Best Gluteus Maximus Exercises (Get Firm & Big Glutes)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: April 30, 2024
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As an experienced personal trainer, I recognize the crucial role of the gluteus maximus in daily activities and athletic performance.

Yet, my findings show that it’s often overlooked.

Here, you'll find tried-and-tested exercises, each chosen for its effectiveness in targeting the entire gluteal area, not just the gluteus maximus.

Whether you’re getting started in fitness or are a seasoned athlete, my research indicates that you’ll see challenging training that will help you strengthen and sculpt your glutes.

I'll also share insights into the importance of glute training, tips, and how to complement your exercise routine with nutrition and recovery strategies.

Quick Summary

  • The best gluteus maximus exercises include hip thrust, Bulgarian split squats, step-ups, side-lying hip abduction, reverse lunges, single-leg squats, and more.
  • The best glute exercises target not just the gluteus maximus but also other body parts, enhancing overall fitness and functionality.
  • According to ResearchGate, a well-rounded glute workout should include at least 3–5 different exercises for balanced development and strength.
  • As a personal trainer, I believe that prioritizing form over weight and incorporating a variety of exercises is key to effective glute training.

Best Glute Exercises

A person doing gluteus maximus exercise in outdoor

The best glute exercises for muscle mass don’t focus only on the gluteus maximus. Instead, according to ResearchGate, they build strength in other parts of your body, improving your overall fitness and functionality [1].

Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are a staple in my clients' glute strengthening routines, targeting the gluteus maximus directly.

How to perform it:

  1. Start by sitting on the ground with a bench directly behind you. Have a loaded barbell over your legs.
  2. Lean back against the bench and locate your shoulder blades on the upper edge.
  3. Start by driving through your feet and extend your hips vertically. The barbell should rest above your hips.
  4. Extend and reverse the motion to return to the starting position.

Related: How to Do Hip Thrusts Correctly


A fit person doing step-ups

Step-ups are a functional exercise that targets the muscles in your legs and glutes, including the gluteus maximus. They simulate the motion of climbing stairs.

How to perform it:

  1. Stand in front of a box or step with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step up with your right foot, driving force through your heel to extend your right leg fully.
  3. Meet both feet on top of the box.
  4. Step down with the same foot you started the motion and repeat.

Side Planks with Hip Abduction

This exercise strengthens the core, targets the gluteus maximus, and improves balance.

How to perform it:

  1. Begin in a lateral plank posture with your feet stacked.
  2. Lift your top leg and keep your hips raised and your body straight.
  3. Lower your leg and repeat. Switch sides after finished.

Reverse Lunges

A person doing reverse lunges at the gym

Reverse lunge exercises target the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and quadriceps.

How to perform it:

  1. Assume a standing position with your hands placed on your hips.
  2. Step backward with your right foot, lowering your body into a lunge position.
  3. Push your left foot and hips forward to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Single-Leg Squats

This exercise, A.K.A the pistol squat, targets the glutes, hamstrings, and quads, improving balance and coordination.

How to perform it:

  1. Stand on one leg with the other leg straight in front of you as high as possible.
  2. Lower your body while keeping the extended leg off the floor.
  3. Squat as deep as you can and push back up to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Related Articles:

Side-Lying Hip Abductions

A person doing side-lying abductions

This exercise targets the gluteus medius, a weak muscle that, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), may lead to issues if not adequately trained [2].

How to perform it:

  1. Position sideways with your legs stacked and knees bent.
  2. Lift the top leg while keeping your pelvis stable.
  3. Lower the leg back down slowly. Repeat on the other side.

Front Planks with Hip Extension

This dynamic plank variation targets the gluteus maximus and the core muscles.

How to perform it:

  1. Start with your forearms and toes on the floor in a traditional plank position.
  2. Lift one leg and keep the knee straight.
  3. Lower your leg back down and repeat with the other leg.

Killer Gluteus Maximus Routine

A person doing lunges for glute muscles

This intense workout routine ensures you’ll train the gluteus maximus muscle and surrounding fibers.

I’ve developed this routine, and its key is having a killer warm-up followed by a not-that-intense workout and finalizing with a well-deserved rest.

Advanced Warm-Up Routine

  • Jump Rope: 3 minutes
  • High Knees: 20 reps per leg
  • Glute Bridge: 20 reps
  • Walking Lunges: 10 reps per leg
  • Bodyweight Squats: 15-20 reps
  • Lateral Band Walks: 10-15 reps in each direction
  • Bird Dogs: 10 reps per side


A person doing glute muscle workouts at home
  • Step-Ups: 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
  • Side Planks with Hip Abduction: 3 sets of 10-15 reps per side
  • Reverse Lunges: 4 sets of 10-12 reps per leg
  • Hip Thrusts: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
  • Single-Leg Squats: 3 sets of 8-10 reps per leg
  • Side-Lying Hip Abductions: 3 sets of 15-20 reps per side
  • Front Planks with Hip Extension: 3 sets of 10-15 reps per leg

Cool Down

End your workout with a cool-down exercise to help your body recover and reduce the risk of injury or the tendency to execute the worst exercise.
This can include static stretches for your lower body and deep breathing exercises.

What is the Gluteus Maximus?

The gluteus maximus is a strong muscle within our physical structure in the buttocks region.

Its primary roles include hip extension, outward rotation, and lateral (sideways) hip movement.

“The gluteus maximus muscle is the largest and most powerful muscle in the gluteal region of the body. It is the most superficial of the three gluteal muscles, covering all of the others except for a small part of the gluteus medius muscle.”

- Geoffrey Guttmann, Ph.D

It's vital for activities like standing up from a seated position, climbing stairs, running, and maintaining a standing position.

Importance of Having a Glute Training in Your Workout Routine

A person doing glute lunges for muscles at the gym

Training the gluteus maximus is essential for several reasons:

  • Improved Performance: A strong gluteus maximus enhances athletic performance, contributing to faster sprints, higher jumps, and improved endurance.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury: A strong gluteus maximus prevents injuries by reducing muscle imbalances, stabilizing the pelvis, and reducing stress on the lower back. Weak glutes contribute to knee, hip, and lower back injuries.
  • Improved Posture and Alignment: Strong glutes align your pelvis properly, promoting better posture. This can alleviate tension and strain in the lower back and neck.

How Glute Exercises Help Your Body

A person doing glute workouts at the gym

As a personal trainer, I've seen firsthand how incorporating bodyweight exercises to target the glutes benefits my clients beyond just strengthening their gluteus maximus.

Let me share with you how this approach has positively impacted their overall physical health:

  • Improved Core Strength: Many glute exercises engage your core, strengthening your abdominal and lower back muscles.
  • Enhanced Mobility: Regular glute training improves overall flexibility and range of motion.
  • Calorie Burning: Glute exercises, especially weight-bearing, burn body fat and calories, contributing to weight loss.
  • Better Balance and Stability: Glute exercises require balance to avoid injuries. That’s why they improve your overall stability and coordination.

Glute Training Tips

A person doing lunges at the gym
  • Prioritize Form Over Weight: The exercise movement quality is more important than the weight you lift.
  • Incorporate Different Exercises: Include compound and isolation exercises in your routine for a well-rounded approach.
  • Remember Other Glute Muscles: While the gluteus maximus is the largest glute muscle, the gluteus medius and minimus are also crucial for hip stability and movement.
  • Consistency is King: Aim to train your glutes 2-3 times weekly for better results.

Nutritional Support for Gluteus Maximus Development

To strengthen and grow the gluteus maximus, focus on a balanced diet rich in protein, essential for muscle repair and growth.

  • Include lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and plant-based sources like beans and lentils.
  • Carbohydrates are vital for energy; opt for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to ensure a steady supply.
  • Healthy fats from avocados, nuts, and olive oil support overall health.
  • Hydration is crucial, so drink plenty of water.
  • Consider supplements like whey protein or BCAAs for additional support.

Meal planning should involve pre and post-workout nutrition, emphasizing protein and carbs for muscle recovery and energy. Regular, balanced meals throughout the day aid consistent nutrient supply.


Should You Train Glutes Daily?

No, you shouldn’t train your glutes daily unless it’s a lightweight workout. Your muscles need to recover and grow after a workout, so rest at least 48 hours before another intense training. Working out your glutes 2-3 times weekly is enough.

Which Exercise Hits the Three Gluteal Muscles?

The exercise that hits the three gluteal muscles is the Hip Thrust. It targets gluteus minimus, medius and maximus. Still, squats, lunges, and deadlifts also work out those three muscles.

How Many Exercises Are Enough to Have Strong Glute Muscles?

The number of exercises enough to have strong glute muscles depends on each person, their goals, and how the body responds to each training. However, a well-rounded glute workout should include at least 3-5 exercises targeting the gluteus maximus from various angles. This helps ensure balanced development and strength.


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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.
Learn more about our editorial policy
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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