Strong glutes are essential, not just for aesthetics but also for reducing your risk of injury and lower-back pain. Strong glutes produce mobile hips and a stable core, and they also decrease your risk of knee pain. Developing powerful glutes help us become more agile and lift heavier. Here are five moves to add to your training program that not only will lift your booty but also will strengthen your posterior chain.
The squat targets all the muscles in your lower body, but it shines as a glute builder because of the flexion that takes place at the hips. Plus, as you descend, a deep stretch is placed on your glutes, meaning that they produce a more powerful contraction on the way back up. To perform it correctly, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, dip your hips back as if you are sitting in a chair and lower into a deep squat. Squeeze your glutes and explode out of the bottom, pressing through your heels to a full standing position.
2. Weighted Walking Lunge
When you think of lunges, you typically think of how sore they make your quads. And while lunges do target your quads, they actually do more to target your hamstrings. This is good news because hamstring strength is incredibly valuable when working on developing a better set of glutes. Stand tall with a set of dumbbells at your sides, and step forward with one leg and lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Press up through the heel of your lead leg and bring your feet back together briefly before stepping into your next rep.
3. Barbell Hip Thrust
The hip thrust can look a little embarrassing and feel awkward at first, but this exercise is beneficial because it keeps your glutes under tension throughout the entire move. Although you can do these on the floor, performing them on a bench allows for a greater range of motion. Sit with your upper back against the end of a flat bench and hold a barbell in your hip crease with both hands. Your knees should be bent, feet flat and placed shoulder-width apart, toes forward. Keeping your knees parallel, extend your hips and drive the weight up until your torso and thighs are parallel with the floor. Pause and squeeze your glutes, then return down under control.
4. Bulgarian Split Squat
This version of the split squat typically has your back foot elevated on a bench to place even more emphasis on the quads and glutes of the front leg, helping to correct imbalances and stabilize joints. Stand in front of a bench and lift one leg behind you, placing the laces of your shoe on top of the bench with your knee bent. Most of your weight should be on your front leg, so keep that knee soft to protect your joints and help maintain balance. Bend your standing knee and slowly squat down, tracking your knee over your toes and keeping your torso upright; don’t lean forward. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor, extend your leg to return to the start. Repeat for reps, then switch sides.
5. Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian deadlift remains one of the most underrated — and incorrectly performed — exercises in the gym. Many trainers round their back, but the Romanian deadlift’s main movement is a forward hinge at the hips. This places a full stretch on the hamstrings, which actually cover the knees and the hips, zeroing in on that hard-to-reach glute-ham tie-in at the south end of your butt. Stand holding a barbell with a pronated (palms down) grip, hands slightly wider than hip width, feet narrowly spaced. With a slight bend in your knees and a flat back, bend forward at the hips, shifting your glutes backward. Allow the weight to slide down your thighs past your knees until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Pause briefly and return to the starting position.