7 Best Glute Exercises for Mass (and a Bigger Booty)

Looking for the best glute exercises for mass so you can get a sculpted, bigger bum? Apart from the aesthetic benefits you may be after, strengthening your glute muscles is essential for aiding movement in everyday life and preventing injury, especially to your back.

Your glutes (which include the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus) form the body's largest and strongest muscles.

Strengthening these muscles can also improve your posture and athletic performance, in addition to relieving back pain and reducing the risk of injury, according to the website of Unique Fitness, a New York-based gym and fitness center.

"Hip extension is a fundamental movement in daily life and athletic activities" and the gluteus maximus is "the primary muscle responsible for hip extension," said a March 2020 study published in The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.

Hip muscle control plays a key role in maintaining a strong and stable back. A December 2015 study published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science explained: "The ability to actively control the muscles of the hip plays an important part in lumbar segmental stability.

"As a function of the gluteus maximus muscle, the sacroiliac joint [where your lower spine and pelvis connect] delivers loads from the trunk to the lower limb, and if this joint moves excessively, it results in pressure on the joints and disks between the L5–S1 vertebral body, sacroiliac joint, and pubic symphysis, which leads to functional failure of the sacroiliac joint and low back pain.

"This causes the gluteus maximus muscle to contract, creating a self-locking mechanism, thereby providing stability to the sacroiliac joint," the study said.

Luckily there are plenty of effective glutes exercises for mass and booty growth.

The Best Glute Exercises

The exercise that may trigger the "highest level of GMax [gluteus maximus] activation" is the step-up, possibly due to the stabilization required when performing the move, according to the aforementioned March 2020 study.

Bilateral exercises, such as the hip thrusts, squats, deadlifts and lunges, can provide a "very high level" of GMax activation.

Below we unpack how to correctly perform these moves and other great glute exercises for mass, according to fitness experts.

1. Step-Up

Kristin Traskie, a personal trainer certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), told Newsweek the step-up exercise involves the following moves:

  • Stand with your back straight and with a step, plyo box or bench positioned directly in front of you.
  • Step up with the right foot, pressing through the heel to straighten your right leg.
  • Bring the left foot to meet your right foot on top of the step.
  • Bend your right knee and step back down with the left foot.
  • Bring the right foot down to meet the left foot on the ground.

You should aim to do three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.

"Make sure you are protecting your knees by not pushing the knee of the active leg past your toes when stepping up. Keep your knee in alignment by not allowing the active knee leg to collapse in or out," Traskie explained.

Once your strength level increases and you improve on form, you can begin adding weight by holding dumbbells or a barbell while doing the move, she said.

A man on a plyo box.
A man on a plyo box at a gym, which can be used for the step-up move. iStock/Getty Images Plus

2. Weighted Hip Thrust

For this move, start by sitting on the floor with your back along the edge of a bench, your knees bent and feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart.

"The scapulae (shoulder blades) should be resting against the edge of the weight bench in the center of the bench," Traskie said.

Perform the following moves to complete the hip thrust exercise, as outlined by the ACSM certified trainer:

  • Place a barbell across the hips (a plate or dumbbells can also be used instead).
  • Squeeze your glutes, pressing through the heels of the feet and pressing the bar straight up until the hips are in line with your shoulders and knees.
  • The bench should be supporting the mid-scapula area. Maintain a tight core, with your chin slightly tucked in.
  • Slowly lower the bar down until your hips are just a few inches off the floor.
  • Squeeze the glutes and lift again.

Throughout this move, keep your hips moving the entire time with a slight pause/contraction of the glutes at the top of the range of motion (ROM). Most of your body weight should be in your heels and you should be able to wiggle your toes inside your shoes, Traskie said.

As with the previous glute exercise mentioned, you should aim for three sets of 10-12 repetitions and progress the load as your strength level increases.

Traskie advised those who have never done a hip thrust before should start by using only their bodyweight for this move or start on the ground with a glute bridge instead.

But once you've mastered proper form, you can add weight by carefully placing a dumbbell, plate or barbell across your pelvic area when doing the hip thrust move. The extra resistance will help your glutes get stronger, the personal trainer said.

A person doing a weighted hip thrust.
A person doing a weighted hip thrust move using a bench. iStock/Getty Images Plus

3. Sumo Squat

Rena Oliver, a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)-certified personal trainer at Crunch Fitness, told Newsweek that squats, as well as hip thrusts and deadlifts (more on this later) are definitely the best exercises to get a bigger bum.

However, these moves "grow the booty back," she explained. Those who want to "make the glutes round out as well" will need to perform other exercises, such as lateral movements and the sumo stance, according to Oliver.

"That way the smaller gluteal muscles on the outskirts of the glutes, like the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, are being worked and will help give shape around the hips.

"Other muscles, such as the inner and outer thighs, also get worked more with these exercises rather than traditional squats and deadlifts," she added.

Here is how to do a sumo squat, as outlined by Oliver.

  • Start in a standing position with both feet in a wide stance and turning outward about a 45-degree angle. You can either perform this exercise using just your body weight or holding a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell on the back for an added challenge.
  • Make sure your glutes are already engaged. As you release the glutes, allow the body to sink directly down into a squat, with the knees driving out in the direction of the toes.
  • Once you've reached a 90-degree angle between your thighs and shin, squeeze the glutes to raise the body back to starting the position.

Oliver noted you'll know your stance is too narrow if your knees go over your toes at the bottom of the squat, while your feet are standing too wide apart if you're unable to achieve full range of motion, the NASM-certified personal trainer said.

People doing a squat with barbell.
People doing a sumo squat holding a barbell on their backs. iStock/Getty Images Plus

4. Sumo Deadlift

Here is how to perform a sumo deadlift, according to Oliver.

  • Start by standing in a wide stance with both feet turned out at about a 45-degree angle, with the glutes engaged and and the weight (either dumbbell, barbell or kettlebell) held by both hands, hanging in front of you, held by both hands.
  • As you release your glutes, allow the hips to hinge back as the weight grazes down the front of your legs and your body weight distributes to the back of the legs. "Make sure the knees follow the angle of the toes and don't cave in forward," she warned.
  • As soon as you feel that stretch in the glutes and hamstrings, squeeze the glutes to return to the starting position. Don't let the chest drop or lock the knees during this movement.

As with the previous move, you'll know your sumo stance is too narrow if your knees go over your toes at the bottom of the squat, she said.

A man doing a sumo deadlift.
A man doing a sumo deadlift at a gym. iStock/Getty Images Plus

5. Side Lunge

Begin the side lunge move in a standing position, with hands on your hips and follow the steps below, as outlined by Oliver. To make this exercise harder, you can either hold a dumbbell at the shoulder of the working leg, or place a barbell on your back.

  • Take a wide step to the side with the toes pointed forward.
  • Gradually shift your weight to the foot that stepped out by bending the knee and allowing the hips to sink back, almost as if you are sitting in a chair. Be careful not to let the chest drop or heels come up.
  • Once you've hit a 90-degree angle between your thigh and shin, push off the foot that stepped out and use the momentum to step back into starting position.
A woman performing a side lunge move.
A woman performing a side (lateral) lunge move. iStock/Getty Images Plus

6. Curtsy Lunge

The curtsy lunge begins in the same standing position as the side lunge, with hands on the hips.

Then follow the steps below, as outlined by Oliver. Hold a dumbbell with both hands or a barbell on the back to make this move more challenging.

  • Pick up one foot to step diagonally back. Make sure your hips remain facing forward. "If the hips twist when you take the step back, then you've crossed past the point of what is natural for your body," the Crunch Fitness personal trainer explained.
  • Gradually bend both legs until the back knee (the stepping leg) is a few inches from the ground.
  • Squeeze the glutes to straighten the legs and step back to starting position.

Side lunges and curtsy lunges can be done as separate exercises or "pair them together to create a compound movement—doing one side lunge then taking it right into a curtsy, then repeat," Oliver advised.

A man doing a curtsy lunge.
A man doing a curtsy lunge. iStock/Getty Images Plus

7. Lateral Band Walk

Choose a resistance loop or band that is challenging for your fitness level. "Resistance loop levels vary by color and brand, so again select a level that is right for you to start and then over time you may be able to progress," advised Traskie. This exercise can also be performed without a resistance loop.

Perform the following steps to complete the lateral band walk, as outlined by the ACSM-certified personal trainer.

  • Place the loop just above the knee, around both legs and stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position. Keep your spine elongated. Do not round your back.
  • Take a step sideways to the right as far as you can, while maintaining proper form and pressing into your heels. Use your outer thigh muscles (abductors) to maintain proper knee alignment by pressing into the band the entire time.
  • Take 10 to 12 steps to the right (or as space allows) and 10 to 12 steps to the left. Then repeat.

Repeat the move for three sets or time yourself for 30 seconds and progress the length of time and/or loop resistance as your strength level increases.

Keep your hips level during this move and avoid tilting the hips frontwards, backwards or sideways. Also keep your feet in line with your shoulders, with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet, Traskie explained.

A woman wearing resistance band and squatting.
A woman using a resistance band while in a squat position. iStock/Getty Images Plus

How Often Should Glute Exercises Be Done?

To build your glutes, you should train them at least twice a week on non-consecutive days, according to Traskie.

Oliver explained that depending on the intensity level, you can train your glutes one to two times a week.

"If it was a very heavy leg day you're going to want three to five days in between to allow the body to not only restore its energy, but repair and build the muscle as well," she said.

When Will I See Results With Glute Workouts?

There is no exact time frame for when a person can expect to start seeing results with these glute moves, Traskie said. The answer depends on the individual's consistency of workouts, genetics, nutrition and other factors. However, in a general sense, an individual can expect to start seeing results in about four to six weeks.

Oliver said you'll feel the results first before you see them. "The general rule of thumb is you will feel stronger and be able to do more weight/harder exercises within the first four weeks of your workout regimen."

In the four weeks that follow (meaning week five through eight), other people (your friends and family) will start noticing the changes. But the individual won't notice "significant changes" until weeks nine to twelve, Oliver explained. "The results will come, but it does take patience and discipline."

She also noted that in order to grow muscle, your body needs extra fuel to build the muscle. "So make sure you are in a caloric surplus. Your body will not be able to build a booty if you are burning more calories than you are consuming," the personal trainer advised.

A woman doing a forward lunge move.
A woman doing a forward lunge move. iStock/Getty Images Plus