Training and Workouts

The very best bodyweight glute exercises

the-best-bodyweight-glute-exercises

I hope this doesn’t come as news to anybody but your glutes serve a bigger purpose than just posing them for Instagram. The gluteal muscle group is responsible for keeping our torso upright, plays a significant role in our moving patterns, and the way our posture looks.

There are three gluteal muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus.

Gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle in the body.

The glutes influence the mechanics of your whole body, thus making it extremely important to develop and strengthen them.

Top 8 Glute Exercises to Strengthen and Shape Your Behind

Can you grow your glutes with bodyweight exercises?

Certainly, especially if you’re a beginner.

To build muscle you need to consistently and progressively overload your muscles, causing them enough stress to initiate hypertrophy (muscle growth).

Every time you put more stress on your muscles than they were previously used to, you cause damage to your muscle fibers. The body naturally reacts by initiating a repair and replace cellular process, in which new myofibrils (muscle cells) are built. The important thing to note here is that damage happens during a workout, repair (growth) happens while you rest. It’s essential that muscle protein synthesis exceeds the muscle protein breakdown.

The myth of the “toned body”

The way you keep challenging and overloading your muscles can vary – you can increase the weight, you can increase the difficulty of the exercise, the volume, or the time under tension.

So, as a beginner, you can easily achieve progressive overload by varying the exercises, switching to more difficult ones, and increasing the reps. As you get stronger and master the bodyweight exercises, it’ll be more effective and pragmatic to add some weight to your training.

The Best Bodyweight Glute Exercises

Side-Lying Hip Raise

side-lying hip raises exercise demonstration.

The side-lying hip raise will target your gluteus medius or in other words – your upper glutes. It’s certainly an exercise you don’t want to underestimate – it might not look like it but it is quite an advanced one. I promise you – it burns!

If you find it to be to hard , give the clamshell exercise a try.

Reverse hyperextensions/glute raises

reverse hyperextensions glute exercise demo.

Lie face down on an elevated surface, allowing your hips and legs to be hanging down. You can do this bodyweight exercise either on a bench or even on the side of your couch.

Bend your legs and use your glutes and hamstrings to lift up your lower body. Squeeze your glutes at the top and return to starting position.

Bulgarian split squat

Bulgarian split squat demonstration.

The Bulgarian split squat is very much like your regular split squat – the only difference is that your back leg is elevated. This makes the movement far more challenging as this adds extra weight for you to lift up. Try to use your back leg only for balance and drive your weight with the front leg only.

Once you get comfortable with the movement and you’re easily keeping your balance throughout, try adding some weight – dumbbells or a kettlebell. It’s one of my all-time faves to target the glutes!

Glute bridge

glute bridge exercise demonstration.

Lie on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your core tight, lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze your glutes hard at top of the movement and hold for a second or two before slowly lowering your hips again.

Add a loop band around your knee for extra resistance and muscle activation.

Elevated glute bridge

bodyweight glute exercise - feet elevated glute bridge

Very much like your regular glute bridge but position your feet on a stable elevated surface. This will make the exercise a little more challenging. Add a cute grumpy cat for moral support.

Single leg elevated glute bridge

one of the best bodyweight glute exercises - single leg elevated glute bridge.

Another variation of the glute bridge – the hardest modification of the bodyweight glute bridge.

Keep the movement controlled the whole time. Don’t overextend your hips – aim for that straight line between your knee, hips, and shoulders.

Don’t forget the cat. The legend says this exercise is only effective with a cat nearby.

 Bodyweight hip thrusts

Bodyweight glute exercise - hip thrust exercise demonstration.

I’ll start with this – if you are not doing hip thrusts…you should be. This is probably the number one exercise to develop and strengthen your glutes. Not only that, but it is also an excellent assistant exercise to improve your squat and increase your deadlift lockout power.

Top 8 Glute Exercises to Strengthen and Shape Your Behind
  • Your pivot point with the bench should be right under your shoulder blades.
  • The feet, in general, should be shoulder-width apart, shins vertical to each other. Toes can point slightly out.
  • Your knees should be at a 90 degrees angle at lockout.
  • Focus on that mind-muscle connection, and try to lift your weight with your glutes.
  • At the end of the movement, squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward, WITHOUT overextending your spine.
  • Keep the control, while lowering your hips and don’t lose the tension in your glutes.

Frog pumps

one of the best bodyweight glute exercises - frog pumps being demonstated by a young woman.

Lie face up on the ground and knees bent. Place your feet against each other, scoot your heels as close to your butt as possible and lift your hips up into a bridge position. Squeeze your glutes at the top.

It’s great that you want to strenghten your glutes but don’t just stop there…

I recently updated one of my Anterior Pelvic Tilt articles and was yet again reminded how important balance is for our bodies. The tiniest deviations in one region can spark a domino effect and lead to major problems in another region. For example, having a flat foot can lead to postural problems and back pain.

While we’re talking about butts here and making them strong and perky with exercise (which is great!), I feel like we should also be reminded that we need to focus on all muscles in equal proportions.

The booty pictures are definitely very trendy right now, but let’s not forget the rest of the less attractive lower body muscles, in order to avoid injuries and keep the body balanced.

A lot of programs right now put a strong emphasis on hip abduction exercises (moving the leg away from the midline of the body) to target the glutes. At the same time, the hip adductors (muscles moving the leg towards the midline of the body) are one of the most overlooked muscle groups. Such discrepancies in strength can increase the risk of an injury.

A systematic review from 2015 showed that hip adductors’ strength is one of the most common risk factors for groin injuries [1].

Ever heard of the Copenhagen hip adduction exercise? If not, it’s a great exercise to strengthen your inner thighs and you should give it a try!

Copenhagen hip adducton exercise

side-lying hip adduction exercise demonstration.

You can modify the exercise by putting not just your foot on the chair (or whatever elevated surface you’re using) but your knee and lower leg. This will make the movement a bit easier.

Of course, there are other exercises targeting the inner thighs like standing hip adduction (YouTube links) and the side-lying hip adduction.

It’s a good idea to include some of these exercises at least once a week in your training program.

That’s about it for today. Let me know what your approach to training your glutes is and if you include any of these exercises in your fitness plan!

6 Comments
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6 Comments

  1. Clarissa Cabbage
    May 14, 2020 at 4:39 am

    Great post! I love body weight exercises and do many of these glute exercises myself. Although the adduction one is a new one to me, thanks for that! I also like the hip bridge march which can be done elevated as well.

    • Lily
      May 14, 2020 at 10:31 am

      Hey Clarissa,

      thank you so much! Glad you found a new exercise for you! 🙂

  2. Baby Boomer Super Saver
    May 14, 2020 at 5:20 am

    What a great group of exercises, perfect to fit in during breaks while working at home. Usually I try to walk daily or do yoga. I will add some of these exercises to my daily routine. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lily
      May 14, 2020 at 10:31 am

      I am glad you liked them and will integrate them in your daily routine! 🙂

  3. Lindsey
    May 20, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    I actually love glute bridges! I have been trying to workout for 30 minutes each day and these exercises that you shared will be super helpful to do in future workouts!

    • Lily
      May 22, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      Hey Lindsey,

      I am glad that you liked them and hope they will provide you good workouts in the future! 🙂

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