Build Strong Glutes With This Seven-Move Lower-Body Pump

Woman performs barbell hip thrust
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Squats will always have their place in a lower-body strength workout, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of glutes exercises. For a well-rounded legs day session, and well-rounded glutes generally, you need to look beyond the squat and harness the muscle-building potential of hip thrusts, deadlifts, lunges and banded walks. 

Ollie Campbell, certified personal trainer and founder of Priority 6 in Oxfordshire, England, has done just that to deliver a comprehensive glute-building workout that will light up the muscles of your posterior chain. The seven-move session combines a tri-set, a superset and a spicy pulse-raising finisher that will target your glutes from every conceivable angle.

How To Perform This Glute-Focused Workout

This workout is made up of seven exercises in total, split into three phases. The first phase is made up of a tri-set of exercises, meaning you’re required to complete a set of all three moves without resting before you take a breather for 90 seconds. 

Once you complete three rounds of this tri-set, move on to the second phase—a challenging superset. Here you have two exercises that you need to complete back to back before you rest for another 90 seconds. Repeat this superset four times. 

Last but not least Campbell has included a seven-minute AMRAP finisher. For this, the challenge is to complete as many rounds as possible of two moves. Keep a running total of the rounds and reps you complete so you have a target to beat next time. 

Got it? Good. Time to get stuck in. 

1A Kas barbell hip thrust

Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 0sec 

Named after fitness coach Kassem Hanson, this variation of a hip thrust focuses on the glute muscles. The main point of difference is a reduced range of motion to keep the muscles under tension for longer. 

Sit against a bench with a loaded barbell over your hip crease and feet flat on the floor. Hook your shoulder blades over the bench and drive your hips up to lift the weight until your shoulders, hips and knees are in line and your torso and thighs are parallel to the floor. 

Here’s where the move differs. The aim is to keep your knees over your ankles throughout the move. Lower your butt only as far as you can without your knees traveling back, then drive your hips high to engage your glutes. Perform all reps with a powerful squeeze at the top. 

1B Barbell hip thrust

Woman performs hip thrust in gym

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Sets 3 Reps 10 Rest 0sec 

Following the Kas hip thrust, perform the traditional movement. It’s the same set-up, but this time you want to lower your butt all the way to the floor, allowing your knees to travel back slightly, then drive your hips up powerfully to complete one rep. Lower the weight slowly, and thrust up powerfully, with a one-second pause at the top of each rep.

1C Dumbbell sumo squat pulse

Man performs squat holding dumbbell in front of his chest

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Sets 3 Reps 20 Rest 90sec

For the third move in this tri-set, hold one end of a heavy dumbbell in both hands against your chest and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your chest facing forward, push your hips back and bend at the knees to lower into a squat as far as you can. From here, gently pulse up and down, a quarter rep at a time. Each quarter rep counts as a full rep here. Keep your heels glued to the floor as you work through all 20 reps.

2A Staggered-stance dumbbell Romanian deadlift

Woman performs split-stance Romanian deadlift with dumbbell in gym

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Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 0sec 

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and line up the toes of your back foot with the heel of your front foot, holding dumbbells. Retract your shoulder blades and engage your core, then hinge forward at your hips to lower the weights to around mid-shin height. You should feel a greater strain in the hamstrings of your front leg. Drive up powerfully, squeezing your glutes hard at the top of the move, then continue into the next rep. Perform all the reps on one side, then switch sides. 

2B Cossack squat

Man performing side lunge holding dumbbell

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Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 90sec

Stand with feet wide apart, toes pointing out slightly. Hold a light dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, elbows high to help keep your torso upright. Bend one knee and move your torso to that side to lower into a lateral lunge, making sure your knee tracks over your foot to protect the joints. Keep your other leg straight as you lower. Straighten the leg to return to the center position, then continue into a lateral lunge on the other side. If you have the flexibility, you can swivel on the heel of the straight leg as you descend into each rep, pointing your toes up, to get even lower. Just go easy, because this puts a great deal of strain on the adductor muscles on the inside of the thighs that are commonly overlooked. 

Seven-Minute AMRAP

Complete as many rounds as possible of the following two moves, paying attention to the required reps for each. Rest as little as possible and keep a running count of the rounds and reps you tick off so you have a score to beat next time. 

3A Lateral banded walks  

Woman warms up with resistance band crab walk movement

(Image credit: Puhimec / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Reps 30 each side 

Loop a mini resistance band around your legs, just above your knees. Lower into a half squat, keeping your knees wide apart and chest facing forward. Staying low, side-step for 30 reps, ensuring you keep maximum tension in the band throughout, then switch sides. If space is limited, alternate steps left and right. If you’re doing this right, your glutes should be on fire toward the end of each set. 

3B Kettlebell swing

Man performs kettlebell swing in gym

(Image credit: Hirurg / Getty Images)

Reps 20 

Hold a kettlebell handle in both hands with your arms extended and your feet just wider than hip-width apart. Keeping your back flat and shoulder blades retracted throughout, hinge forward at the hips to let the kettlebell swing back between your legs, then drive your hips forward to power the weight up to eye level. Squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the move, then allow the weight to swing down between your legs, hinging at the hips, and go straight into the next rep.

Lucy Gornall

Lucy is an experienced health and fitness journalist, and was formerly health editor for TI Media’s portfolio of women’s titles. Lucy qualified as a level 3 personal trainer with Train Fitness in 2016, and also holds qualifications in pre- and post-natal fitness, as well as in nutrition for exercise.