9 Best Glute Exercises for a Stronger Butt

If you want to build a stronger butt, you'll want to use exercises and activities that target your glutes. The "glutes" are actually three different muscles: the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle), the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus.

You can't always change the shape of your glutes, but you can make them firmer and stronger with the right exercises. The key is working all the muscles from different angles with different exercises and cardio activities.

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4 Exercises for a Stronger Butt

Squats

Squats

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Squats are one of the best exercises to target the gluteus maximus—the largest muscle in the lower body. They also work your hips, thighs, calves, and core.

Squats should be a staple of any basic lower body workout. If the move hurts your knees, try alternative forms of the squat.

How to Do Squats

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart. For added intensity, hold weights at shoulder level or at your sides.
  2. Bend your knees and lower into a squat. Keep your knees behind your toes (imagine that you're sticking your butt out behind you, but keep your torso upright and contracted).
  3. Press into your heels to stand.
  4. Repeat for 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps

If you're up for a challenge, try the Bulgarian split squat. The move requires you to balance on one leg while elevating the other on a bench or sturdy chair. The move shifts the workload onto the quads of the front leg, but the glutes are activated as well.

Lunges

Lunges

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Lunges are a favorite butt exercise. In a staggered stance, you really have to use your glutes to stabilize your body. The stance also forces the glutes on the front of your legs to work even harder.

How to Do Lunges

  1. Stand with your feet staggered, one foot forward and one foot back (about 3 feet apart).
  2. Bend both knees and lunge straight down, sending your back knee toward the floor.
  3. Try not to lunge forward over your front toes. Keep your front heel on the ground.
  4. Press into your heel to stand.
  5. Repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 12 to 16 reps. For added intensity, hold some weights.

Lunges also work other muscles including your hamstrings, quads, and calves.

One of the best things about lunges is that there are many varieties. You can easily mix it up to target your muscles in different ways. For example, elevate your back foot on a step or platform to really challenge both legs.

While lunges are a great move for the glutes and thighs, you'll want to avoid the move if it aggravates any knees problems.

Step-Ups

close-up of three women's legs stepping up onto an exercise step
Alexandr Sherstobitov / Getty Images

Step-ups are another great exercise to work on your butt. To get started, make sure that you choose a platform high enough that your knee is at a 90-degree angle when bent. If that's a little too much, use the second stair on a staircase and hold onto the rail for balance.

How to Do Step-Ups

  1. Stand in front of the step or platform. Place your right foot on the step.
  2. Pressing into your heel, step up, touching your left toes to the step.
  3. Keeping your right foot on the step, bring your left foot down to the floor. Bend your knee into a lunge for more intensity.
  4. Repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 12 to 16 reps on each side. For more intensity, try holding weights or a resistance band under your standing foot.

Push into your heel to lift the body and concentrate all your weight on your stepping leg.

Lower down gently, barely touching the toes of your other leg to the ground. If you take it slow and concentrate on the working leg, you'll really feel this move.

Sidestep Squats With Resistance Bands

Squat With Side Step

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

While the previous exercises mostly target the gluteus maximus, this move targets the smaller gluteus medius and minimus. Don't worry, though, the gluteus maximus is still involved because you're squatting.

To turn this into a great whole-body exercise, hold the handles of the resistance bands with your arms bent for an isometric exercise for the biceps.

How to Do Sidestep Squats

  1. Use a band with medium-light tension. Stand on it, holding both handles.
  2. Take a wide step out to the right into a squat, keeping tension on the band.
  3. Step your left foot in. Continue stepping out and squatting to the right, all the way across the room (or as far as you can).
  4. Repeat the other way or for about 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 steps.

Hip Thrust/ Glute Squeeze on Ball

woman performing hip thrust

 Ben Goldstein / Verywell

The hip thrust on a ball is another great choice for working your glutes. The ball adds some instability and forces your entire lower body to work. Holding weights on the upper thighs adds more intensity to the exercise.

How to Do Hip Thrusts

  • Begin in a bridge position with your head resting on the ball and your butt lifted. If you want, place weights on your thighs for added intensity.
  • Lower your hips to the ground. Try not to let the ball roll around.
  • Squeeze your glutes to lift back to your starting position.
  • Repeat for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps. Try lifting your toes for a more intense move.

Hiking

Hiker looks off from mountain ridge crest
Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images

The previous strength exercises aren't the only strength moves for the glutes, but we often forget that cardio activities can also engage your backside.

Hiking is one of those activities and it also burns a ton of calories. Not only do you work harder because you are hiking uphill, but you'll expend even more energy if there's a change in altitude.

Walking up an incline automatically gets your glutes more involved. If you're wearing a backpack, you're getting even more of a workout.

No hiking trails in your area? Consider cycling. A bike ride is another great way to engage the glutes.

A 140-pound person burns about 390 calories in about an hour while hiking. If you live in a flat area, try raising the incline on your treadmill to mimic trekking up a hill.

Kickboxing

Mixed Race woman kicking heavy bag in gymnasium
Peathegee Inc / Getty Images

Kickboxing is an excellent workout for the entire body, including the hips, glutes, and thighs. Controlled front kicks, roundhouses, sidekicks, and back kicks work your hips, thighs, and butt.

Complex combinations that include punches target your upper body and abs to make them stronger. A 140-pound woman can burn up to 500 calories with 45 minutes of kickboxing.

Hip Extensions

While the previous compound exercises are the go-to choice for working multiple muscles at the same time, hips extensions are perfect for targeting the glutes in a more focused way. You'll also benefit from some core and shoulder activation.

How to Do Hip Extensions

  1. Get on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
  2. Keeping the right knee bent, lift your right leg up until it is level with your glutes.
  3. Lower your leg.
  4. Repeat for 12 to 16 reps on each side.
  5. To add intensity, squeeze a weight in the back of your right knee or use ankle weights.

One-Legged Deadlifts

Deadlifts are good for your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, but this one-legged version is an especially good butt workout. Doing anything on one leg adds intensity and it also involves your stabilizer muscles to keep your body balanced. 

Keep in mind that with deadlifts, proper form is critical. You should also skip this exercise if you have back problems.

How to Do Deadlifts

  1. Holding weights, take your left leg back behind you (about a foot or so) and lightly rest on your toe.
  2. Tip from your hips and slowly lower the weights to the floor as far as your flexibility allows.
  3. Keep your back flat (or with a natural arch). Make sure you keep your abs contracted to protect your back.
  4. Squeeze the glutes of your working leg to bring it back up.
  5. Do 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 16 reps on each side.
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