Target All Three Glute Muscles With This Six-Move Workout

Woman performs hip thrust in gym
(Image credit: Ziga Plahutar / Getty Images)

The glutes are among the biggest and most important muscle groups in the human body—but how often do you actually train yours? 

“They are literally involved in every physical step we take,” says Evie Cant, a personal trainer at F45 Camden in London, who we asked to design the ultimate glute workout. “Whether you’re an athlete or not, it’s vital to incorporate plenty of glute-strengthening exercises in your regular fitness routine.” 

The glutes are made up of three individual muscles—including the large and powerful gluteus maximus—and therefore require an array of exercises that target them from varying angles to develop well-rounded strength and stability.  

“Primarily, your glutes help keep you upright by stabilizing your upper body,” says Cant. “The gluteus maximus, medius and minimus work together to maintain the right pelvic alignment, so we can do things like push our feet off the ground when running or keep our balance when standing on one leg.”

Here Cant has combined six multi-joint, compound exercises into a full-blooded glute workout. Ready to put your back into it? Let’s go. 

How To Do This Six-Move Glute Workout

“This workout is best done at the gym, where equipment is plentiful,” says Cant. However, you can also practice the moves at home with just your bodyweight—especially if you’re relatively new to weightlifting.

Perform four sets of each exercise before moving on to the next. Rest one minute between sets. Once you’re confident with each lift, you can add load with dumbbells or a barbell. Start light and build gradually. 

1 Step-up

Man performs step-up exercise holding dumbbells in gym

(Image credit: Ildar Abulkhanov / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 1min

Place a box against a wall. Hold a dumbbell in one hand and step onto the box, leading with the opposite foot. Drive up to stand tall on the box, then reverse the movement to return to the floor. Complete all reps leading with one foot, then switch the dumbbell over to your other hand and repeat with the other foot. Use the wall for balance, should you need to.

Cant says: “Lean into the move slightly by hinging your hips back and keep the leg that touches the ground far from the box. This will help target the glutes.” 

2 Hip thrust

Woman performs hip thrust in gym

(Image credit: Hirurg / Getty Images)

Sets 4 Reps 10-15 Rest 1min

Sit on the floor with a barbell across your lap and lean back against a weight bench. Press your shoulders into the bench and drive through your feet to raise your hips, keeping your hands on the barbell to keep it steady. Lift until your thighs are in line with your torso. Keep your chin tucked into your chest and squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the move, then slowly lower to tap the floor with your bum and repeat. 

Cant says: “Externally rotate your feet slightly and tuck your chin into your chest to ensure you don’t arch your back as you lower.” 

3 Staggered deadlift

Split-leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift

(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 1min

Stand in front of a barbell with your feet staggered, so one foot is slightly behind the other with the heel of the back foot lifted. This will help target the glutes on the same side as your front foot. Keeping your back flat, hinge at your hips to grasp the bar. Drive the weight through your front foot to raise the bar until standing, then lower slowly. Repeat all reps on one side, then switch feet. 

Cant says: “This is a deadlift, not a lunge, so keep your feet close together and focus on hinging at your hips rather than bending your knees.”

4 Bulgarian split squat

Woman performs Bulgarian split squat holding a dumbbell in the goblet position in front of her chest with her rear foot elevated on a weights bench

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 1min

Stand facing away from a box or weight bench with a dumbbell in each hand and position the top of one foot on the box or bench behind you. Bend your front leg to lower into a deep lunge, keeping your chest upright. Aim to lower until you can tap your back knee to the ground, then drive up until your front knee is straight. Complete all reps on one side, then switch legs. 

Cant says: “Lean forward slightly and think about moving your bum towards your back heel to make this move more glute-focused.” 

5 Bent-leg lying hip abduction

Sets 4 Reps 10 each side Rest 1min

Lie on your side with knees slightly bent and one leg stacked on top of the other. Hold a weight plate on top of your thigh to add resistance, and stretch your other arm in front of you to provide balance. Now raise the top leg to target your glutes on one side, then lower under control. Repeat all reps on one side, then switch. 

Cant says: “Positioning the weight plate closer to your knee will make it harder. Closer to your hip will make it easier.” 

6 Deficit sumo squat

Sets 4 Reps 10-15 Rest 1min

You’ll need two small boxes for this exercise and two kettlebells. Position the boxes slightly wider than shoulder-width apart so there is a large gap between them. Stand on the boxes, holding a kettlebell in each hand, with arms straight. Externally rotate your feet slightly and lean forward, hinging at the hips to lower the weights between the boxes. Lower as far as you can while keeping your back flat. Drive your hips forward to return to standing. 

Cant says: “The boxes provide a deficit that allows you to deepen this movement and target the glutes more than with a conventional sumo squat.” 

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.