Glute Exercises for the Gym: Enhancing Your Workout Routine

Whether you’re gearing up for another leg day or dedicating your session solely to sculpting your derriere, one thing’s for certain: You want a few tried-and-true glute exercises up your sleeve to strengthen and shape your backside while enhancing your athletic performance.

So, which exercises should you include on glute day—and what else should you consider when adding glute exercises to your workout regimen?

From squats to glute kickbacks, we’re sharing all our favorite glute exercises and offering a few tips and tricks to support you at every stage of your fitness journey.

Essential Glute Exercises

There are a few must-have exercises in most gym-goers’ lower body workout routines: squats, lunges, and hip thrusts. These basic yet integral movements play a fundamental role in strengthening your glutes (and other muscles in your lower body, like your hamstrings and quadriceps).

With such comprehensive exercises, it’s important to master the basic actions of each movement. This ensures you’re effectively targeting the intended muscle groups and setting yourself up for success when incorporating other variations of squats and lunges into your routine.

Not to mention, correct form greatly reduces the risk of injury.

Below, we’re sharing a quick and concise guide to essential glute exercises—gym edition:

#1 Squats

As a baby, you have to learn to walk before you can run, and the same can definitely be said for squats. It’s crucial to master bodyweight squats before incorporating any gym equipment.

So, if you’re new to squats or took a brief hiatus and need a refresher, here are the fundamentals of perfecting a bodyweight squat:

  • Step 1 – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, turning your toes slightly outward.
  • Step 2 – Engage your core muscles before bending into the squat. If you’re uncertain about your form, imagine a large dog about to pounce on your abdomen in greeting. As you brace yourself, this should create a tight feeling in your stomach. And don’t forget to maintain steady breathing while tightening your abdominal muscles.
  • Step 3 – Lower your body into the squat by bending your knees. As you descend, focus on keeping your chest up and your back straight. Stop the movement when your thighs are parallel to the ground or slightly lower. If you’re unsure of your form, look at your knees. They should be in line with your toes (not in front of them).
  • Step 4 – Push through your heels to elevate yourself back into your starting position, squeezing your glutes as you reach the beginning of the movement.

#2 Lunges

There are numerous lunge variations to try, including (but not limited to) stationary, walking, reverse, and curtsy lunges, and they all concentrate on different areas of your lower body. So, which one should you start with?

If you’re relatively new to this exercise, we recommend starting with forward lunges to gain a solid grasp of how to perform the movement correctly. The forward lunge is a team player when it comes to targeting all of the primary muscles in your lower body, including your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

For a more glute-focused lunge, the reverse lunge reigns supreme. So, with feet shoulder-width apart and your core engaged, follow these steps to master the form of reverse lunges:

  • Step 1 – Step backward about two to three feet with one leg, depending on the length of your legs.
  • Step 2 – Lower your body, bending both knees until they’re at a 90-degree angle. (This is the perfect chance to check if your knee lines up with your ankle). If they’re aligned, your form is in great shape.
  • Step 3 – Use the heel of your front foot to propel yourself upward, activating your glutes as you re-enter the starting position. As you come up, bring your back foot forward to meet the front foot.
  • Step 4 – Repeat steps one through three on the other leg.

#3 Hip Thrusts

This fundamental lower-body exercise is an excellent way to activate your glutes at the beginning of your workout routine (especially if you incorporate resistance bands into the movement).

We’ll start with the basics of body weight hip thrusts, and then give you a few different hip thrust variations to help maximize your glute gains:

  • Step 1 – Gently place your upper back on an elevated surface, like a weight bench or exercise ball.
  • Step 2 – Find the proper position for your feet by lifting your hips. When your shins are parallel to the floor, you’ve found the right spot to plant your feet and bend your knees.
  • Step 3 – Begin the glute thrust by engaging your core and pushing through your heels. Activate your glutes as you lift your lower body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Step 4 – Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement for one to two seconds before slowly returning to the starting position.

Once you’re comfortable with bodyweight hip thrusts, there are plenty of variations to try, including:

  • Adding weight to the movement with the help of a dumbbell or barbell across your hips
  • Incorporating a resistance band by placing it above your knees for extra glute activation
  • Performing single-leg hip thrusts by lifting one foot off the ground as you complete your repetitions

Incorporating Progressive Overload With Glutes Exercises

Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at performing the beginner variations of these and other glute exercises. But eventually, you might feel like you’ve hit a plateau with your progress. When this happens, you can continue challenging and developing your glutes through a method known as progressive overload.

This training principle involves gradually increasing the intensity of an exercise to further enhance muscle strength and size. There are several overload techniques you can easily add to any of your glute exercises, including:

  • Increasing the weight
  • Adding more repetitions
  • Performing additional sets
  • Reducing the amount of time between rest periods

While the idea of incorporating all four strategies may seem tempting, remember that slow and steady progress is key. That said, aim for small, gradual additions to your current weights, sets, or repetitions. For example, if you want to increase the number of reps in an exercise, consider adding three more repetitions to your current set, rather than a hefty number like eight.

Selecting Equipment Based on Fitness Level

Increasing the strength of your glutes is a marathon, not a sprint, and the exercises you incorporate into your workout will depend on your current fitness level. You’ll know you’re ready to tackle more challenging glute exercises (with new and exciting equipment) when you notice a lack of progress in muscle size, muscle strength, or workout intensity.

Not sure what types of equipment to incorporate into your glute workout? Here are some pointers based on your fitness level:

  • Beginners – If you’re just starting, we recommend beginning with bodyweight glute exercises, such as squats, lunges, donkey kicks, and hip thrusts. In addition, resistance bands are an excellent tool to activate your glutes.
  • Intermediate – After you’ve mastered bodyweight exercises, you can incorporate dumbbells for numerous exercises, from goblet squats to dumbbell lunges. Barbells are another valuable addition to glute-focused exercises like hip thrusts, barbell squats, and deadlifts.
  • Advanced – While some gym machines may seem intimidating initially, they’re easy to learn and can effectively target specific muscle groups, such as your glutes. The Smith Machine is particularly useful for lifting heavier weights during hip thrusts and various other lower-body exercises. And with the cable machine, you can easily adjust the tension and resistance for exercises like glute kickbacks and hip abductions.

Nutrition Tips: Keys to Supporting Muscle Growth and Recovery

Many people assume that the key ingredient in increasing the size of their muscles is working out. They often don’t realize that their diet also plays a crucial role in their body’s ability to increase strength, repair muscle tears, and build new muscle fibers.

One of the best ways you can support your glutes (and all muscles) as they recover and grow from each workout is by maintaining a wellness-oriented lifestyle. That means:

  • Prioritizing protein – While everybody requires different dietary needs, aim to eat a source of protein with every meal, such as fish, eggs, dairy, and lean meats.
  • Timing your meals – Eat a balanced meal containing protein and complex carbohydrates an hour or two before your workout. The carbs will provide your body with the fuel it needs to function at maximum capacity.
  • Including healthy fats – Don’t be fooled by fat’s bad rap. Healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados are beneficial for producing the hormones responsible for muscle growth, repair, and overall metabolism.

Strategies for Staying Motivated

Even the most dedicated fitness enthusiasts hit an occasional speed bump along the way. If you need ways to keep yourself motivated on your glute-growing journey, look no further:

  • Track your progress – Use an app or simply log your workouts in the notes section of your phone, including which exercises you performed, how many sets of each, and the amount of weights used. Watching your improvements is a surprisingly strong motivator to continue pushing yourself.
  • Mix up your routine – Incorporating a progressive overload strategy is a surefire way to stay engaged in your workouts. Another way to keep you on your toes is to sprinkle in a few exercises that are new to you. This can prevent boredom and burnout and balance your muscle development.
  • Work out with a friend – A workout buddy can provide accountability, support, and motivation. What more could you ask for?

Finesse Your Glute Fitness Game With Chuze Fitness

Incorporating glute exercises into your routine can be a game changer for not only your physical well-being but also your mental state of mind. When you feel better, you radiate positivity, tackling challenges (in and out of the gym) with newfound confidence.

No matter what stage of the fitness journey you’re in, Chuze Fitness welcomes you with open arms. Whether you prefer group fitness classes or you’re ready to jump right in and tackle the free weights or Turf Area, we provide everything you need to power up your whole body, from your glutes to your mindset.

Find a Chuze Fitness near you and start growing those glutes today.


NASM. Progressive Overload Explained: Grow Muscle and Strength Today.

Cleveland Clinic. The Best Ways to Fuel Your Workouts Might Surprise You.

Chemical & Engineering News. Hormones Reveal the Secret Life of Fat Cells.

Reviewed By:

Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. She’s had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.


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