Trust me when I say this, but your
glutes are working O.V.E.R.T.I.M.E. Seriously. No matter what you’re doing, odds are your butt muscles are involved.
The glutes are one of the biggest muscles in the body. They contribute to your overall strength, and they help you sit, stand, run, walk, jump, and hike, says Kehinde Anjorin, CFSC, NCSF, a certified functional strength coach, personal trainer, and founder of PowerInMovement. “They play a pivotal role in hip and lower back stability, and they’re also your biggest hip extensors,” she adds.
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What’s more, your bum aids in your ability to hinge and squat, while simultaneously working to keep your back strong and pelvic stabilized, helping to lower back discomfort throughout the day, says Anjorin. Plus, strong glutes can make you a better runner—and even help you avoid knee injuries.
What are the glute muscles, and how do you work them?
Here’s a quick posterior primer: Your glutes include three distinct muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus is the largest and provides most of the shape of the buttocks, says Anjorin. It also keeps you upright when sitting and standing, and acts as the lower-body power generator allowing you to run, jump, squat and extend or rotate your leg outward and backwards.
Second in command is the gluteus medius, which sits between the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus, and its main job is to stabilize the pelvis. It also promotes movement of the hip and upper leg including hip abduction, hip external rotation, and hip internal rotation, says Anjorin.
And, you guessed it, the gluteus minimus is the smallest and located right below the gluteus medius. “This muscle helps to produce several movements of the hips and legs including hip extension, hip internal rotation, and hip abduction,” adds Anjorin.
If you’re looking to make major booty gains, variety is key, says Anjorin. Yes, squats will always be a superstar, but incorporating new moves will help you hit all three to tighten, tone, and strengthen *all* the angles.
35 Best Butt Exercises
Now that you have the 411 on the muscles that make up your glutes and what they do, it’s time to get into specifics. The following are the 35 best butt exercises to try in your next workout. Add one into your lower-body days or string them together as a DIY glutes workout.
Time: 15 minutes | Equipment: bodyweight (stability ball, resistance band, and dumbbells optional) | Good for: Glutes, butt muscles
Instructions: Choose at least three moves below. Perform 15 reps of each, then continue to the next exercise. Once you’ve completed all movements, rest for up to one minute. Then, repeat three times for four total rounds.
1. Mini Band Kickback
- Get on hands and knees, and put one end of the mini band around your right foot, positioning the other end on the left thigh, just above the knee.
- While keeping your abs tight, contract the glutes slowly, and kick the right leg back until it’s straight.
- At full extension, squeeze the glutes for an extra second. Carefully bring it back down. That’s one rep.
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2. Reverse Lunge With Knee Drive
- Begin in a low lungeing position with right foot forward, left foot back. Both legs should be bent at 90 degrees, torso parallel to floor, right hand on right thigh, and left arm extended, fingertips on mat.
- Pushing through the right (or forward) leg, take a small jump into the air, lifting your left knee off the floor and driving it upward toward the chest, swinging bent right arm forward until elbow is in line with shoulder.
- Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
3. Heel Elevated Split Squat
- Stand on your right foot, with the left knee bent and foot off the ground.
- Bend your right knee, extending your left leg down until the knee is a few inches off the ground, keeping your arms out in front of you for balance. (Feel free to use a block or ball as a marker of where your knee should land.)
- Slowly return to start. That’s one rep.
4. Butt Kicks
- Start in a standing position with your feet under the hips and hands at your sides.
- Move by bending the left or right leg, raising the heel to the glute. Then, quickly return it to start.
- Repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep.
5. Jumping Jacks
- Begin in a standing position with both hands by your sides.
- Jump and land with the legs open (slightly wider than hip-distance), while also bringing your hands up overhead.
- Jump again, landing with your legs back together and the arms at your sides, then repeat.
6. Kettlebell Swing
- Start with your hips back, knees slightly bent, and torso leaned forward at 45 degrees.
- Hold the handle of a kettlebell with both hands, arms extending straight toward the floor.
- Squeeze glutes, straighten legs, lift torso, and thrust hips forward all in one motion, ultimately swinging the weight to chest height. (Keeping the arms straight and core tight!)
- Then, in reverse, bring the kettlebell between thighs this time when you hinge. That’s one rep.
7. Bear Crawl
- Start in with your shoulders over the wrists, knees under hips and have your entire body elevated a few inches off of the mat.
- Step left hand and right foot forward at the same time, followed by right hand and left foot.
- Keep your back flat and hips stable. Count every three steps forward as one rep.
- Stand facing a box, step, or stairs, and hold the dumbbells in front of your chest.
- Place your left foot on the bench, and keep your right foot on the floor.
- Pushing through the left foot, lift your body up until you’re in a standing position at the top of the bench. Drive the right knee up until it forms a 90-degree angle.
- Pause, then slowly return to start. That’s one rep.
- Start in a standing position with the knees slightly bent.
- Jump sideways, to the left, bringing the right leg behind you and reaching the right arm in front of your body for balance.
- Jump to the right side, bringing your left leg behind you and left arm in front of you. Your chest should stay up and your hips should stay low the entire move. One jump on one side is one rep.
- In a seated position with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, have your arms at your sides, palms pressed into the mat, fingertips facing forward.
- Roll back onto shoulders, lifting your hips off the mat, and extending your legs straight into the air.
- Then, using momentum, roll forward, bending legs to return feet to the floor, and pushing through soles to stand and jump straight up.
- Keep your arms extended at sides and land with bent knees. That’s one rep.
- Start standing with feet together holding a pair of weights at shoulder height, elbows bent in front of body.
- Step right foot forward and bend knees to lower down into a lunge, stopping when both legs form 90-degree angles.
- Press through the right heel to stand and step left foot forward, lowering into a lunge. That’s one rep.
- Start with arms behind head (elbows wide), upper back pressed into a stability ball (or elevated surface, like a couch), legs bent, feet flat on floor, and hips hovering above the floor.
- Lean back into the stability ball and lift hips toward ceiling until thighs are parallel to mat. Return to start. That’s one rep.
- Start standing on the right leg with left leg slightly back behind body, toe pointed and resting on the floor, right arm on hip, and left arm extended straight down at side.
- Engage abs and slowly lean forward, lifting left leg straight back behind your body and lowering torso toward floor until both are parallel to ceiling and left hand is almost touching floor.
- Drive into the right heel to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
- Start standing on the left leg with a weight in right hand, arm extended straight and weight in front of thighs, palm facing toward body, left arm by side and right leg straight and a few feet behind body with heel high.
- Keep a slight bend in the left knee, then lean forward, hinging at the hips with a flat back while lowering the weight toward the floor.
- Drive into the left heel to return to the standing position. That’s one rep.
- Start standing facing a bench or stair, hands on waist and feet under hips.
- Step right foot onto bench or stair and pull left knee up toward chest.
- Reverse movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
- Start standing with a resistance band wrapped around shins, feet under hips, with hands clasped in front of chest.
- Take a big step to the right, then bend knees, sit back, and lower until thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Engage glutes and press back up through heels to starting position. Repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.
- Wrap a resistance band around thighs, then lie down with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms by sides on floor.
- Engage your core, then press into heels and squeeze glutes to raise your hips toward the ceiling—maintain tension on the band the whole time.
- Hold the position for a second before lowering to start. That’s one rep.
- Start lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, arms by sides on floor.
- Engage your core, then press into heels and squeeze glutes to lift hips toward the ceiling.
- Maintain space between chin and chest and keep your upper back on the ground.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds. That’s one rep.
- Start lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Engage your core, then press into heels and squeeze glutes to raise hips until body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders.
- Lift right knee toward chest. Pause, then lower right foot.
- Repeat with the other leg. That’s one rep.
- Start lying on your back with arms by sides, legs bent to 90-degree angles (shins parallel to floor), and feet on a stability ball (or elevated surface, like a couch).
- Push down into feet, upper back, and arms to lift hips off ground a few inches. Return to start. That’s one rep.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold two weights in hands, bend arms, and place them behind shoulders onto back. This is your start position.
- Keep knees slightly bent and torso straight, then slowly hinge forward from hips until upper body is parallel to the floor.
- Hold for a moment, then return to start. That’s one rep.
- Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart and hands by sides.
- Push hips back and bend knees until thighs are nearly parallel to the ground bringing hands to clasp in front of the chest.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds. That’s one rep.
- Start on all fours with a dumbbell tucked in the crease of your right leg.
- Keep that leg bent at a 90-degree angle and foot flexed, then press up through the sole to kick the leg straight up until your knee is in line with your hip and parallel to the floor.
- Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
- Get on hands and knees with a resistance band wrapped around thighs.
- Straighten left leg and raise it into the air until in-line with hips and parallel to floor, foot flexed. This is your starting position.
- Engage glutes to lift your leg up a couple more inches, then lower back to hip height. That’s one rep.
- Stand up tall, then take a large step forward with your right foot, coming on to the ball of your left, arms by your sides. This is your starting position.
- From here, bend knees and lower body until knees are bent to 90-degree angles while bringing hands to clasp in front of chest.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds. That’s one rep.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a weight in front of your chest, elbows pointing toward the floor.
- Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat.
- Push yourself back to start. That’s one rep.
- Start standing facing away from a box (or chair) with weight in left foot, right foot hovering, and arms at sides.
- Engage core, bend left knee, and push hips back to sink down into a single-leg squat until butt touches box, simultaneously extending arms out straight in front of body and right foot out slightly for balance.
- Once your butt taps the box, press through your left foot to return to standing position. Repeat on each side.
- Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, toes forward, arms at your sides.
- Bend knees, stick butt back, and lower down into a squat, bringing hands together in front of the chest.
- Then, explosively jump up as high as possible off the floor, swinging arms straight behind the body for momentum.
- Land softly on the balls of feet and immediately lower into the next squat. That’s one rep.
- Start standing on your left leg with right foot back slightly and right heel lifted.
- Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of your body.
- Push hips back and lower torso forward to 45-degree angle.
- Drive through the left heel to reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
- Start standing tall with feet under hips and arms clasped in front of the chest.
- Engage your core, lift your right foot off the floor, and take a big step back and to the outside of your left foot.
- Then, bend at the knees until the right knee taps the floor behind the left foot.
- Drive through feet to reverse the movement and return to starting position. That’s one rep.
- Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, hands at your side.
- With your right hand, reach down toward your foot, lowering your body until your left knee is bent 90 degrees.
- Immediately repeat on the other side. That’s one rep.
- Stand with weight on your right foot and left leg long behind your body with toes pointed and resting on the floor.
- Slightly bend the right knee, hinge at hips to lower the torso forward, and clasp hands in front of the body. This is your starting position.
- Then, engage through left glutes to kick straight left leg back and up until nearly parallel with floor.
- Slowly and with control, reverse the movement to return to start.
- Start on all fours in tabletop position with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
- Raise your left arm in front of you and right leg behind, forming a straight line from left hand to right foot.
- Hold for a second, then pull arm and leg beneath the torso, so the left elbow and right knee connect.
- Extend out long once more, then return to start. That’s one rep.
- Start standing with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a pair of weights in front of thighs, palms facing body.
- Keeping knees slightly bent, press hips back as you hinge at the hips and lower the weights toward the floor.
- Squeeze glutes to return to standing. That’s one rep.
- Start in a deep hinge position (hips back, knees slightly bent, and torso leaned forward almost parallel to floor), with hands gripping a kettlebell on floor between feet.
- Squeeze glutes and press hips forward to straighten legs and lift weight up keeping it close to shins.
- When the kettlebell reaches the knees, bend your elbows and pull it up to your chest.
- Then, bend knees and sink hips back and down into a squat. Once thighs are about parallel with the floor, press through feet to extend legs and return to standing position. That’s one rep.
8. Step Up
9. Speed Skaters
10. Roll-Up Jumps
11. Walking Lunges
12. Stability Ball Hip Thrust
13. Single-Leg Deadlift
14. Supported Single-Leg Deadlift
15. Step Up
16. Banded Lateral Step-Out Squat
17. Banded Glute Bridge
18. Isometric Glute Bridge
19. Glute Bridge March
20. Stability Ball Bridge
21. Weighted Goodmorning
22. Isometric Squat
23. Dumbbell Donkey Kick
24. Banded Leg Lift
25. Isometric Lunge
26. Goblet Squat
27. Single-Leg Box Squat
28. Jump Squat
29. Staggered Stance Deadlift
30. Curtsy Lunge
31. Lateral Lunge with Reach
32. Standing Glute Kickback
33. Bird Dog
34. Romanian Deadlift
35. Deadlift to Squat Clean
Andi Breitowich is a Chicago-based writer and graduate student at Northwestern Medill. She’s a mass consumer of social media and cares about women’s rights, holistic wellness, and non-stigmatizing reproductive care. As a former collegiate pole vaulter, she has a love for all things fitness and is currently obsessed with Peloton Tread workouts and hot yoga.