For a lucky few, squats, deadlifts and lunges are more than enough to build a poppin' posterior. For us regular folks, building massive glutes will take a booty workout plan loaded with isolation exercises.
In this post, we will go over several of the best exercises for glute mass building. We'll also give you an example workout program to strengthen and develop a set of athletic, perky cheeks.
How Often Should You Train Glutes?
Determining what training frequency and volume needed for increasing glute hypertrophy can be challenging. Every lifter will respond to training in different ways. Some people do well with high frequency, others heavy weight and low volume. As long as you are providing enough stimulus via progressive overload, you'll continue to make progress.
Glutes, generally speaking, respond well to higher frequency. If they're a priority for you, hit them twice a week MINIMUM.
At the end of this short article we have included 2 different glute workouts for mass. The very first is a 2-day weekly program with 2-3 days in between each session. Sessions include both compound as well as isolation exercises, both in greater volume.
The second is a 4-day routine, that has fewer overall sets as well as volume per session than the 2-day program.
Try both and see how your body responds!
What Exercises Should You Do For Gaining Mass in the Glutes?
Below are 15 of the best glute exercises that can be used pack on glute size and strength. We've broken them up into 3 groups:
The first, are the big compound exercises that allow heavier weights to be used. These place high amounts of stress on the glutes so should be done first in the workout.
The second group is made up of assistance movements, and should be performed with maximum squeeze at the top. Focus on creating a mind muscle connection.
Last but not least we'll discuss glute activation and/or burnouts. Do them before your workout to prime or "wake up" your muscles before training. They can also be done as burnouts at the end of your workout to maximize hypertrophy.
Pro Tip: Not sure what some of these are? Type a quick search into instagram for thousands of video demos!
Below are 5 compound glute exercises that place high eccentric stress on the glute muscles. Go hard and heavy on these to build muscle strength and hypertrophy.
Hip Thrust/Glute Bridge
The Barbell Hip Thrust (or the Barbell Glute Bridge based off of your personal preference) is the ultimate glute builder. If the Back Squat truly is the King Of The Lower Body, the Hip Thrust is the queen. Any decent glute program will have one of these in it. There's dozen's of variations so it's hard to get bored!
Back squats are one of the most effective exercises for building the lower body. While they are not a glute focused movement, they can provide an excellent stimulation for strength and hypertrophy. There is a trade off however- few people have solid technique. Combine that with the ability to move heavy weight and the likelihood of injury skyrockets.
If you're well trained and experienced, the squat is a great addition to any program. If not, we'd recommend skipping it in favor of the hip thrust.
Romanian deadlifts are a glute and hamstring dominant workout. They can also be done unilaterally (one side at at time) for added muscle development. Overall a great posterior-chain movement!
Bulgarian Split Squats
The glutes are highly active in the Bulgarian split squat. This is seen in the eccentric phase for hip stability and control, but also at deeper ranges of hip flexion. Wider splits can also increase hamstring and glute engagement. It's a safe and easily loaded exercise that will challenge you strength, endurance and balance.
Lunges come in a wide variety of styles and variants. They can be done to raise unilateral glute development, strength, and also increase hip/knee stability. Variations like crossover lunges, reverse lunges, and walking lunges all especially target the glutes.
Below are four (4) exercises with a high focus on getting a squeeze at the top. AKA building a mind muscle connection which can raise glute activation and overall development.
Cable Pull Throughs
Like the hip thrust, the cable pull through allows a lifter to maximally contract the glutes at the top of every rep. Since cable machines apply constant loan, it increases "time under tension," building even more muscle.
Cable Abduction With An Ankle Strap
This exercise is one of our favorites to target the gluteus medius (side booty). Stand next to a cable machine and strap the ankle cuff to the ankle farthest from the machine. Stand on the opposite leg and raise your cuffed leg straight out to your side for abduction.
This is an amazing glute, hamstring and lower back movement, but it's a little tricky!
Perform a regular back extension BUT:
-point your feet out at 45 degrees
-Let your upper body hang down so that your upper back rounds
-Squeeze and initiate the movement from your glutes, not your lower back
-feel the crazy burn and contractions.
Single Leg Hip Thrust
This is a great way to deal with muscle imbalances or instability that might be slowing glute development.
Set up as you would for a barbell hip thrust but without the barbell. Pick one foot up off the floor. Raise one leg off the floor and extend it in front of you, and have the other planted close to your butt. Brace your abs, and drive through your heel to raise your hips up until they're level with the floor.
Below are 3 of our favorite glute activators (if you do them in the beginning of your workout) or burnouts (if you end with them). A resistance band makes a world of difference for these.
Banded Glute Bridge With Abduction
Throw a band on above your knees, perform a regular glute bridge. At the top of the movement, push your knees out as far as you can (abduction). Return to the start.
This will burn your glutes out like nothing else!
Banded Pulse Squats
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. While keeping your chest up and knees out, push your butt back and descend to slightly above parallel.
On the way up, stop short of lock out to keep the tension on your glutes.
With the bottom of your feet touching each other and your knees out, raise the hips up. When you go up, your knees will want cave but keep them out during the exercise.
Below is two-day glute workout program for mass. Note that this program emphasizes lots of volume (set/reps) and intensity. Because of that, soreness will be higher. 1-2 rest days in between sessions is key.
Barbell Hip Thrust – 3 sets of 10 repetitions
Back Squat (below parallel) – 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
Romanian Deadlift – 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
Cable Machine Abductions 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
Single Leg Glute Bridge – 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions
Banded Pulse Squats – 3 sets of 20 repetitions
Bulgarian Split Squat – 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions per leg
Barbell Hip Thrusts – 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions
Back Extensions 3-4 sets of 15 repetitions
Frog Pumps – 3 sets of 30+ repetitions
Below is an example of a high frequency, four-day glute workout program to build mass and strength. Keep in mind that this program has significantly less training volume on each day than the 2-day a week version. This is to prevent overtraining/burnout/injuries from such high frequency.
Banded Clam Shells-- 2 sets of 10 repetitions per side
Barbell Glute Bridge-- 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions
Single Leg Hip Thrust-- 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions
Front Squat – 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions
Side Lying Banded Leg Raise – 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions per leg
Barbell Hip Thrusts – 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions
Back Extensions – 4 sets of 15 repetitions
Bulgarian Split Squat – 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions per leg
Cable Pull Throughs – 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions (heavy)
Banded “Pulse” Squats – 3 sets of 45-60 seconds (aim for 30+ repetitions)
Trying to only to grow your glutes, but not the rest of your legs? We've got you.
Everyone has their own opinions and preferences when it comes to training for aesthetics. As it should it be! Your body = your rules.
Some only have the goal of a flat stomach. To them nothing else matters.
Some people prefer to build large muscular thighs, others... not so much.
And some people, well, they just want to build a set of monster glutes.