The Science Behind Growing Your Glutes: 5 Awesome Glute Workouts That Pretty Much Anyone Can Do


Or, to be scientifically fancy, the gluteal muscles. As Wikipedia so gracefully describes the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus “Its thick fleshy mass, in a quadrilateral shape, forms the prominence of the buttocks.”

It doesn’t hurt (or maybe it does) to have toned and well-rounded glutes. I’m no master lifter, but there are some basic things I’ve learned that should be universally known if you want to get your ass in gear (pun intended).

In case you wanted to know what a butt is made up of.

1. 20 minutes on the Stairmaster

The Stairmaster is my holy grail cardio machine. If you told me those were words I’d be typing five years ago I’d laugh at you. Aside from the fact that you’re a good 3 feet higher up than everyone else in the gym so you feel cooler, climbing the never-ending stairs is a great leg workout.

To quote Aaron Dorksen’s At Home Fitness blog:

Just maintaining balance engages core muscles with every step, and the act of climbing the stairs buildings strength and endurance. …Stairmaster Stepmill engages every major muscle in your lower body as many as 120-plus times/minute: glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. High reps build strong, lean muscle.

So as you climb the stairway to glute heaven (now we’re doing Led Zeppelin butt puns?), pick the speed you’re comfortable with. I prefer starting a bit slower at around 70 steps per minute, then peaking at 85, and finishing off at 70.

2. Glute activation

You pretty much only need a raised surface for this. I like to make the gym guys mad by stealing one of their heavier dumbbells. The motions I do to activate my glutes are completely dependent on me consciously squeezing my glutes at the peak of each movement. If you forget to do this, you may end up putting unneeded strain on your hamstrings or quads. I only say this to save you from unwanted thunder thighs.

I bought these resistance bands and mainly use the red one for my glute activation movements. They give the extra push you need and are easy to just throw in your purse, or man purse, or to not offend anyone, satchel.

3. Smith machine squats

The day I watched this back was the day I learned I make extremely weird faces while lifting heavy things. I personally prefer using the smith machine for safety reasons, because I’m definitely not at the point where I feel comfortable squatting with free weights (I think I would tip over and have to take a trip to the hospital).

The trick to this, I’ve learned, is to basically imitate a “sitting” motion. You want your knees to remain behind your toes, creating a right angle (not acute!), and to be lifting with your heels. Same goes for lunges if you throw those in. If you squat with your knees forward, you’re going to be working your quads much, much more than your glutes. You can indeed do lunges with the smith machine as well, which I totally didn’t not include that in this video because my form looked terrible – cough, cough.

What to keep in mind while squatting.
What to keep in mind while squatting.
Stop on your right foot, DON'T FORGET IT.
Stop on your right foot, DON'T FORGET IT.

4. Hip Thrusts

Pelvic thrusts! Wooo!

These DIRECTLY target the booty. A simple PSA: I have yet to figure out how not to awkwardly get myself under and out from under the heavy barbell. I end up awkwardly shuffling under it for about a minute until I get in the position I need to be in. Anyways, grab a yoga mat or some sort of cushioning to create a barrier between yourself and the weight, unless you want some serious bruising in your FUPA. Again, squeeze your glutes at the top of each exercise, and you’ll definitely feel the pain/gain the next day.

5. Deadlifts

When I first saw someone doing deadlifts, I was like “how on earth do these work the butt?” Sure enough, by the grace of gravity, these are one of the best glute exercises of all time. How? Instead of putting the strain of the weight on your back (seriously, it would rip your back up), you’re lifting with your legs, in particular, your glutes. As long as you keep this in mind, you will not ruin your back for life. As it turns out, you can also do deadlifts with barbells. Either way, if you’re new to these, please, oh please, start with a lighter weight. Around 30-40 lbs. will be great for a trial run, after that, go nuts.

Overall, nothing feels better than getting a glute workout done. After the fact, when I plop myself into my Civic parked in the gym’s parking lot, I engorge in the literal best protein bar I’ve ever tasted. It doesn’t taste like you accidentally bit into your vitamin pill; it actually tastes sort of like Aunt Jemima’s maple syrup. They’re called ONE Protein bars, and I snag them here on Amazon (I swear this is not sponsored, I just genuinely like these). I either grab the maple donut flavor (how could you pass up anything donut flavored?) or the birthday cake flavor. Honestly, all of the flavors I have tried are pretty decent, except for the cinnamon bun ones that frankly taste like urine. Regardless, though, these babies only have 1g of sugar and up to 22g of protein, so I’m all in.

I’ll conclude this post with a bit of advice. If you’re having trouble getting into the habit of getting to the gym in general, just remember, it’s been scientifically proven that it takes about 66 days to form a habit. I can absolutely attest to this, as after the first few months, I woke up automatically including gym time into my day to day routines. Best of luck to everyone and their booty building journies!