Christiana Mikesch
Published by Christiana Mikesch
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: February 2, 2021

While there are many compound exercises that will automatically activate your glutes, you sometimes need to pay a bit more attention to fix a flat or flabby booty.

But many of my clients have struggled to find the right isolation exercises that make you feel muscles in places you didn’t know existed.

To help you reshape your butt, our team has come up with a selection of glute exercises that rely on your body weight.

That means you can easily add them to your existing exercise routine or do them at home when you have a few minutes to spare.

Benefits Of Glute Isolation

woman in yoga pants

The three main muscles you need to target in your butt are called gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.

I know, they sound more like ancient Roman emperors, right?

But what the maximus and minimus refer to is the size of the muscles. The good news is that isolation exercises for your glutes will target both, and they have three major benefits.

1. Improved Looks

Everyone here at the office called me vain for making this the first benefit, but I think it’s fair to say that everyone prefers their butt in good shape.

And because your glutes take up such a prominent position between your back and thighs, it can really make or break your appearance.

And the more you can isolate the glutes in your routine, the more defined those muscles will become.

2. Prevent Injuries

The glutes are so large because they play a key role in moving your hips and thighs in so many everyday and gym movements [1].

Whether you go for a walk, climb stairs at the office, or do squats at the gym, your glutes will help protect your hip joints and lower back from a lot of strain.

Because of this connection between the upper and lower body, weakened glutes can quickly become an injury risk due to increased stress on joints and the spine.

3. Performance Boost

With stronger glutes, you won’t just be able to perform better at squats and deadlifts, although those are the obvious ones for bodybuilders [2].

But you’ll also notice better performance for jumping, running, and lunging exercises.

So, spending some more targeted time on your glutes could bring about plenty of other performance benefits.

“Pro sports scouts are ass men. That’s because a strong butt is critical to any exercise requiring speed and strength.” - Kristen Dold, freelance writer at MensHealth.com.

List Of Glute Isolation Exercises

Glute Isolation Exercises

These are the exercises that we recommend to clients. You won’t need to do all of them; just pick 3 or 4 and rotate them from week to week.

1. Elevated Hip Thrusts

Man doing elevated hip thrusts

The hip thrust is a great way to introduce low-impact glute isolation, and it’s simple to get started.

Lay down on an exercise mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Lift your right leg straight up in the air, followed by lifting your hips up until your body and thighs are in a straight line and you’re in a single-leg glute bridge position.

Make sure you fully squeeze your glutes before you return to the starting position. Do about 10 to 15 reps on each side.

2. Extended Leg Hip Thrust

Woman Doing Hip Thrusts in a Bench

You’ll need a workout bench or a chair with a comfortably padded surface to lean your shoulders on.

Place your feet on the ground and shoulders on the bench so that you can push up your hips into a bridge-like pose.

As your hips get to the highest point, squeeze your glutes, hold the tension, and then slowly return to the starting position.

3. Glute Kick Back

woman doing a glute kick back

For this, you’ll need a cable machine with an ankle strap attached and set up for the lowest point on the machine.

Stand about 2 feet away from the machine, so there’s already a bit of tension on the cable.

Lean slightly forward to hold onto the machine, and then pull the single-leg back straight and as high as you can.

From the fully extended position, slowly return to the starting position.

You’ll also feel this a bit in your hamstrings, and don’t forget to switch legs.

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4. Kneeling Leg Pulses

Woman doing kneeling leg pulses

Set yourself up on all fours, and then lift one leg back while balancing on your hands and one knee.

Now, raise your stretched out leg up as far as you can and then back down again, and don’t forget to fully squeeze your glutes.

You can do this as a reasonably fast move where you measure the time rather than reps.

The great thing with a single-leg exercise like this is that it adds more tension on your muscles to become more effective.

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5. Donkey Kicks

woman doing donkey kicks

The donkey kick exercise is a good one to follow the leg pulses above as you have a very similar setup.

Your starting position is on all fours, with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips.

Lift your left knee off the ground and kick the leg straight back until fully extended and your left foot is above your body level, then return to the starting point again.

6. Leg Side Circles

woman doing leg circles

You’ll need a bit of flexibility in your hips for this one, but if you can do it, then it will be very effective.

Start on all fours and then point one leg straight out to the side, so it’s at a right angle with your upper body.

Now move your foot and leg in a circular way and keep going for as long as you can.

7. Fire Hydrant

woman in a fire hydrant position

I’ll let you take a wild guess why it’s called the fire hydrant.

The starting position is on all fours again, and from here, you lift up one leg to the side while keeping your knee at a right angle.

If you struggle to get your knee to about hip-height, then you might need to do some stretching to loosen your hips and get the most out of this exercise.

8. Hip Bridge

woman in a hip bridge position

The final exercise recommendation starts off with you laying down on the ground with your knees bent, so your feet are flat on the ground.

Place your arms next to your body and then push up your pelvis in a hip thrust motion.

As you push up, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can and then slowly release down again.

The starting position is on all fours again, and from here, you lift up one leg to the side while keeping your knee at a right angle.

If you struggle to get your knee to about hip-height, then you might need to do some stretching to loosen your hips and get the most out of this exercise.

Sample Glute Muscles Workout

I mentioned above that you don’t want to spend a whole training session just on your glutes.

Instead, try to integrate it with your quads and hamstrings.

Here’s what an integrated glute workout might look like.

  • Standing calf raises (3 sets of 10 to 12 reps)
  • Leg extensions (3 sets of 10 to 12 reps)
  • Leg curls (3 sets of 10 to 12 reps)
  • Romanian deadlift (3 sets of 10 reps)
  • Extended leg hip thrust (3 sets of 15 reps)
  • Glute kick back (3 sets of 15 reps)
  • Leg Side Circles (3 sets of 45 to 60 seconds)
  • Weighted lunges (3 sets of 15 reps)

Your own exercise routine might look very different from this. I just wanted to show how easy it is to modify a routine to include some of these isolation exercises.

Are You Going To Try These Glute Isolation Exercises?

If you haven’t been focusing enough attention on your glutes, or there’s still some flabby stuff you want to get rid of, then plan some of the above exercises twice per week.

Otherwise, once a week is plenty to keep your muscle definition.

And make sure that you share your results with us on social media.


References:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258445715_Activity_and_Functions_of_the_Human_Gluteal_Muscles_in_Walking_Running_Sprinting_and_Climbing
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7039033/

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