Glute Exercises

Karen Frazier

If you want to firm up your rear end, then glute exercises can help you to gain strength, tone and firmness in that region. Glute exercises can be easily performed in a variety of environments - from your living room to the gym. If you are seeking a firmer rear end, then there are a number of glute exercises you can try.

The Role of the Gluteal Muscles

The word "glute" is short for your gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscles are three muscles that make up the buttocks - your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus muscle is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. Its primary function is hip flexion/extension. The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles are primarily responsible for hip abduction and adduction.

While your glute muscles gain some natural strength from your daily activities like walking, bending and squatting, they are often atrophied or out of balance in people who spend much of their time sitting. The muscles of the gluteus balance out the hip flexor muscles; however, daily activity favors natural strengthening of the hip flexor muscles to a far greater degree than the gluteal muscles, which can lead to imbalances. Imbalances between the gluteal muscles and the hip flexors can result in lower back pain and poor posture.

Doing glute exercises can counteract this by strengthening your glutes and rebalancing the strength between the two opposing muscle groups.

Exercises to Strengthen Your Glutes

There are a number of ways that you can exercise and strengthen your glutes. Exercises range in level from beginner to advanced and there are many you can perform at home without specialized equipment.

Glute Exercises for Beginners

The following exercises can be used for beginners and require no special equipment. If there is a way to make the exercise more difficult, that is indicated as well. Beginners should start slowly, with one to two sets of 10 to 15 reps, and work their way up to three sets of 15 reps. Once those can be done with ease, then you are ready to move on to intermediate exercises.

Glute Busters

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet firmly pressed to the floor. Keep your arms at your sides and your lower back pressed firmly on the floor.
  2. Keeping your lower back on the floor, squeeze your gluteal muscles together, causing your buttocks to lift slightly off of the floor.
  3. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds and then slowly release.
  4. Repeat for a set of 10 to 15 reps.
  5. To make this exercise more difficult, perform the exercise with your knees bent and your feet up on a step or exercise ball.

Donkey Kicks

  1. Position yourself on your hands and knees with your abdominals held in tight and your chin tucked to your chest.
  2. Starting with your right leg, bend and lift your right knee and point the sole of your right foot towards the ceiling.
  3. As if you are trying to balance a glass on your right foot, press your knee up to the ceiling until your leg is slightly greater than parallel with the floor.
  4. Lower the knee to parallel, still balancing the imaginary glass.
  5. Repeat for a set of 10 to 15 repetitions (or to exhaustion) and then perform the same exercise using the left leg.

Intermediate Glute Exercise

Once you are able to do the beginning exercises easily for three sets of 15 repetitions, you are ready to move on to intermediate exercises. One of the intermediate exercises is listed above - the glute busters exercise using an exercise ball or step. Another intermediate exercise is listed below.

Step Lunges

  1. Stand upright with your arms at your side, both feet planted firmly on the floor and a step (you can use the stairs) a few feet in front of you. The step should be positioned at approximately the length of your stride.
  2. With your right leg, step forward and place your foot on the step.
  3. At the same time, drop your left knee to the floor.
  4. Using your gluteals, press up and away from the step, rising to a standing position with your right leg positioned slightly below your left knee. Do not put your right foot on the floor.
  5. Lunge forward again using the same motion. Repeat for a set of 10 to 15 repetitions on your right leg, and then repeat on your left leg.
  6. To make the exercise more advanced, lunge to the floor instead of a step and/or use hand weights as you perform your lunges.

Advanced Glute Exercise

Once you can perform intermediate exercises for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, you are ready to move on to advanced exercises. One is listed above as a variation to the step lunges. Another advanced exercise is listed below.

Squats

If you are using a barbell to perform squats, then they need to be done either at the gym with a spotter or at home using a squat rack that can catch the bar if you have difficulty performing the move. Squats can be performed with weights using dumbbells that you hold at your sides, or by resting a straight barbell across your shoulders, depending on the level of difficulty. If you are using heavy weights, a weight belt is strongly recommended to protect your lower back.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Pull in your stomach muscles and tighten your glutes.
  2. Slowly lower yourself into a squatting position where your upper thighs are almost parallel with the floor.
  3. Keeping your back straight, return to a standing position without locking your knees.
  4. Repeat for a set of eight to 15 repetitions

Work Your Way Up for Firmer Glutes

Performing gluteal exercises of progressive difficulty can be invaluable in helping you to not only firm up your rear end, but in balancing out your muscle groups to prevent injury and atrophy.

Glute Exercises