8 Simple Exercises to Develop Stronger Glutes

STACK Expert Z Altug says "it's imperative to focus your training on developing your glutes" and offers 8 best exercises.

The gluteal muscles are the largest muscle group in the body. Some people even classify them as the strongest, but that term is relative. The heart and jaw are also right up there in their feats of strength.

Regardless, it's imperative to focus your training on developing your glutes. Here are the eight best exercises to get started.

RELATEDWhy Your Glutes Won't Get Stronger

Gluteal Squeeze

  • Purpose: Strengthen the hips (especially for the gluteus maximus).
  • Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Squeeze the gluteal muscles for two seconds, then relax for two seconds. Count the two seconds out loud to avoid holding your breath.
  • Sets/Reps: 1-2  x 10, with 5-10-second holds and 5-10 seconds rest.

Bird Dog

  • Purpose: Strengthen the hips (especially for the gluteus maximus).
  • Start on your hands and knees. Slowly raise your right arm and left leg so they are level to the floor. Turn your left foot slightly outward so you feel your gluteus maximus tightening. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
  • Suggested Sets/Reps: 1-2 x 10 of 10-second holds.

Double-Leg Squat Series

  • Purpose: Strengthen the hips and legs.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Looking straight ahead, slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor while simultaneously raising both arms out in front of you like you are guarding an opponent in basketball or skiing down a hill.
  • Try to keep your knees behind your toes, maintain a normal arch in your lower back and keep your core tight. Once you master perfect technique using your body weight with this simple exercise (feet side by side), try the following progressions:

Progression 1 - Using your body weight only or a weighted vest, perform multi-foot position Squats (e.g., right foot in Front Squat, left foot in Front Squat).

Progression 2 - Hold a kettlebell close to your body hanging toward your feet and perform a Squat.

Progression 3 - Hold a kettlebell at chest height close to your body and perform a Squat.

Progression 4 - Hold a kettlebell in one hand and perform a Single-Leg Squat.

Progression 5 - hold a kettlebell in one hand and perform a partial Lunge Squat.

  • Sets/Reps: 2-3 x 10-15

Single-Leg Squats

  • Purpose: Strengthen the hips and legs.
  • Stand facing a step and hold on to a rail. Slowly step up and down on one side. Repeat with the opposite leg. Alternate version: perform the Step-Ups from the side, and progress by varying the step height from 4 or 6 inches to 8 inches.
  • Suggested Sets/Reps: 1-2 x 10-15

Side-Step Walking

  • Purpose: Strengthen the hips and legs.
  • Start in a squatting position with your feet slightly wider than hip-width as if you were guarding an opponent in basketball.
  • Take five to 10 steps to the right. Your step lengths should be approximately 50 percent of the starting position distance between your feet.
  • Keep your knees aligned with the second toe. Repeat five to 10 steps to the left.
  • Once you master perfect technique using your own body weight, try the following progressions:

Progression 1 - Place an elastic band around your thighs, just above the knees.

Progression 2 - Place an elastic band around your ankles.

Progression 3 - Place an elastic band around the front of your feet and don't allow your feet to turn inward.

  • Sets/Reps: 2-3 x 5-10

Side-Lying Straight-Leg Abduction

  • Purpose: Strengthen the hips and core.
  • Start by lying on your right side with your top leg straight and bottom leg bent. Place your top hand on the floor or mat in front of you for good support. Slowly raise your top leg up to approximately 40 degrees for the designated sets/reps.
  • Keep your hips level and don't over-arch your back.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • To increase the difficulty, place an elastic band around your thighs (just above the knees) or an ankle weight just above your ankle.
  • Sets/Reps: 2-3x 0-15

Side-Lying Bent-Leg Abductions

  • Purpose: Strengthen the hips and core
  • Start by lying on your right side with both knees bent 90 degrees and hips bent 45 degrees. Place your right arm under your head and your left arm on the floor in front of you for stability. Slowly raise your top leg up to 30 degrees of abduction, then lower slowly for the designated sets/reps. To increase the difficulty, hold the 30-degree hip-abducted position for five to 30 seconds as a single repetition.
  • Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-15

Supine Bridge

  • Purpose: Strengthen the hips and core
  • Start by lying on your back with your knees bent  90 degrees and feet hip-width apart. Place a small, soft ball between your knees and squeeze with no more than 50 percent effort.
  • Lift your hips off the floor approximately 4 inches, then slowly lower them while relaxing the squeeze between your knees.
  • To increase the difficulty, hold for five to 10 seconds as a single set.
  • Sets/Reps: 2-3x10-15

RELATED: 4 Glute Exercises You're Not Doing

References:

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Boren K, Conrey C, Le Coguic J, et al. "Electromyographic analysis of gluteus medius and gluteus maximus during rehabilitation exercises." International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2011;6(3):206-223.

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Distefano LJ, Blackburn JT, Marshall SW, et al. "Gluteal muscle activation during common therapeutic exercises." Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2009;39(7):532-540.

Ekstrom RA, Donatelli RA, Carp KC. "Electromyographic analysis of core trunk, hip, and thigh muscles during 9 rehabilitation exercises." Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2007;37(12):754-762.

Jang EM, Kim MH, Oh JS. "Effects of a bridging exercise with hip adduction on the emg activities of the abdominal and hip extensor muscles in females." Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2013;25(9):1147-1149.

Lieberman DE, Raichlen DA, Pontzer H, et al. "The human gluteus maximus and its role in running." Journal of Experimental Biology. 2006;209(Pt 11), 2143-2155.

McBeth JM, Earl-Boehm JE., Cobb SC, et al. "Hip muscle activity during 3 side-lying hip-strengthening exercises in distance runners." Journal of Athletic Training. 2012;47(1):15-23.

Selkowitz DM, Beneck GJ, Powers CM. "Which exercises target the gluteal muscles while minimizing activation of the tensor fascia lata? Electromyographic assessment using fine-wire electrodes." Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2013;43(2):54-64.

Swinton PA, Lloyd R, Keogh JW, et al. "A biomechanical comparison of the traditional squat, powerlifting squat, and box squat." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2012;26(7):1805-1816.

Youdas JW, Foley BM, Kruger BL, et al. "Electromyographic analysis of trunk and hip muscles during resisted lateral band walking." Physiother Theory Pract, 29(2), 113-123.

Webster KA, Gribble PA. "A comparison of electromyography of gluteus medius and maximus in subjects with and without chronic ankle instability during two functional exercises." Physical Therapy in Sport. 2013;14(1):17-22.


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Topics: GLUTES | EXERCISE | SPORTS | KETTLEBELL | PHYSICAL THERAPY | GLUTEUS MAXIMUS