8 Best Glute Isolation Exercises Essential For Your Butt

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: February 26, 2024
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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.

However, many of my clients have struggled to find the right isolation exercises that make them feel muscles in places they 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.

Quick Summary

  • Some powerful glute isolation exercises are glute kickback, kneeling leg pulses, donkey kicks, fire hydrant, hip bridge, and elevated hip thrust.
  • Plan some of the exercises twice per week and combine them with high-quality post-workout supplements that will condition your body effectively.
  • According to research from the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, strong glutes improve performance in squats, and deadlifts, as well as in jumping, running, and lunging.
  • As a fitness coach, I've seen firsthand that glute isolation exercises can be a game-changer for both beginners and seasoned athletes alike.

Benefits of Glute Isolation

woman in yoga pants

Your butt comprise three key muscles: the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.

Interestingly, their development is greatly impacted by diet, especially protein and healthy fats, which are essential for muscle growth and recovery

In my experience as a fitness coach, I've seen how a well-balanced diet that complements a great glute workout routine can remarkably enhance these muscles' growth in clients.

Below are some of the major benefits:

1. Improved Looks

Everyone here at the office called me in 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 make or break your appearance, even for the gluteus medius.

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

2. Prevent Injuries

The glutes, crucial for hip and thigh movements in daily and gym activities, safeguard your hip joints and lower back from strain, as detailed in Research Gate studies [1].

This upper-lower body link means weakened glutes heighten injury risks by stressing joints and the spine.

In my coaching experience, strengthening glutes has been pivotal in reducing such injury risks for clients.

3. Performance Boost

Research from the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine shows that stronger glutes improve performance in squats and deadlifts, as well as in jumping, running, and lunging [2].

“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.

From my coaching experience, I've observed that glute training not only improves physical form but also boosts confidence and reduces stress.

Combining glute workouts with quad and hamstring exercises leads to a well-rounded and psychologically beneficial routine.

List of Glute Isolation Exercises

Glute Isolation Exercises

These are the compound 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

elevated hip thrust

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

Lay down on an exercise mat with your knees bent and your 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 to help all gluteal muscles, such as the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus.

2. Extended Leg Hip Thrust

Extended Leg Hip Thrust

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 your 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 glute muscles, hold the tension, and then slowly return to the starting position to stretch your gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus.

3. Glute Kick Back

Glute Kick Back

To do a glute kickback, 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 for your hip muscle group.

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

Also Read: Recommended Gluteus Maximus Exercises


4. Kneeling Leg Pulses

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 glute muscles.

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

The great thing about a single-leg exercise like this is that it adds more tension to your muscles, making them more effective.

Related Articles:

5. Donkey Kicks

Woman doing a donkey kick

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 your 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

side 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

Fire Hydrant

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

Hip Bridge

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 hip and other multiple muscle groups 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 kickback (3 sets of 15 reps)
  • Leg Side Circles (3 sets of 45 to 60 seconds)
  • Weighted lunges (3 sets of 15 reps)

It's interesting to note that different body types, such as ectomorphs, mesomorphs, and endomorphs, might find certain exercises more beneficial than others.

Therefore, it's important to tailor your workout to your specific body type for optimal results.


  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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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
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Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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