Your glutes—gluteus maximus (your ass)—is the biggest, most powerful muscle on your body. It has been granted with important jobs, such as keeping your body erect, as well as smaller jobs like walking up stairs. Despite its size and importance, many of us have underdeveloped glutes. Some people even think their glutes are completely “shut off” (a concern I hear from clients).
But as physiotherapist Stephanie Clark, from Coquitlam Wellness in British Columbia, Canada says, your glutes are not shut off. “If your glutes were actually shut off, you probably wouldn’t be able to walk or stand,” she said. “There may be asymmetries and compensatory muscle recruitment patterns, but your glutes are most definitely working.”
They might be working, but they’re likely weak.
Alas, here are six exercises to help get your glutes firing, and build strength to iron out those asymmetries, so you can build that booty into the powerful machine it has the potential to be.
In case that isn’t motivating enough, haven’t you heard well-developed, muscular asses are sexy? Just saying.
1. Warm-Ups for Your Glutes: Glute Bridge Variations
Real simple. Lay on your back with your feet on the ground and your knees bent. Raise your hips as high as you can and squeeze your butt cheeks together.
Other glute bridge variations include:
- Marching Glute Bridges
- Single-Leg Glute Bridges
- Glute Bridge Holds
- Banded Glute Bridges
- Banded Glute Bridge Holds
Pick two or three to add to your warm up and log 20 to 30 reps of each, or hold for 1 to 3 minutes.
2. Warm-Ups for Your Glutes: Clamshells
Attach a circular band around your thighs just above your knees, lay on your side, bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. Keep your feet together and raise your top leg as high as you can. Control the movement as you raise and lower your top leg—the slower the better. You’ll probably feel like you’re in an 80’s aerobic video, but I promise you your glutes will turn on.
Log 20-30 clamshells on both legs in your warm up.
3. Warm-Ups for Your Glutes: Bird Dogs
On all fours, slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg. Focus on getting both long and high. Hold for two seconds at the highest point, and then slowly lower back down to the ground. Make sure you’re squeezing the bum cheek of the leg you’re raising.
Add 20 per side to your warm up.
4. Strength Building Exercises For Your Glutes: Single-Leg KB or DB RDLs
Stiff-legged, single leg Romanian deadlifts are tremendously powerful for the glutes. Keep these slow and controlled.
Can you do 5 sets of 8 reps per side with 30 to 40 percent of your body weight?
5. Strength Building Exercises For Your Glutes: Weighted Step-Ups
Holding onto a DB or KB in each hand, step onto a box that’s level with your hip (ie. your knee should be at the same height as your hip as you step-up).
Can you do 5 sets of 8 reps per side holding onto 25 percent of your body weight in each hand?
6. Strength Building Exercises For Your Glutes: Lunges Of All Sorts
The tried and true lunge—the king of the glutes!
There are so many variations you can do here to mix it up, such as:
- Walking Lunges
- Reverse Lunges
- Farmer Carry Walking Lunges
- Front Rack Reverse Lunges
Don’t be scared to load up on these bad boys! Here’s a challenge: try working up to a max load 15-meter back rack or front rack walking lunge. You will feel your ass screaming at you the next day.
Remember, your bum is the biggest muscle in your body. If trained properly, it should also be the strongest.