Working on your backside? Basic squats are great for making your tush burn, but eventually, you will plateau. A basic squat also only works the backside from one angle; and the glutes are made up of a number of muscles, such as the hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and glutes medius. In order to get that shapely butt you want, you can’t just focus on the gluteus maximus but the entire posterior chain.
Fortunately, you don’t need to do hours of research for the best glute exercises of 2019, because we’ve listened to them here! Check them out below:
Barbell Hip Thrust
- Muscles Worked: Glutes and hamstrings
- Sets & Reps: 3-4 sets, 6-20 reps, depending on weight and intensity.
- How To Do It: Sit on the ground with you back against bench and have your feet firmly planted in front of you (shoes or barefoot). Rest a padded barbell on your lap. From there, keep the lumbar spine long, knees stable, and start to raise the barbell by extending and pushing upwards through the hips. Use the glutes too. Continue lifting through the butt and hips until your body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the knees (flat like a tabletop). Slowly descend back to the ground.
Glute and Hamstring Extension
- Muscles Worked: Glutes and hamstrings
- Sets & Reps: Start with 3 sets, 15 reps. Work up to 4-5 sets, 15-25 reps while holding a 10-15 pound plate. Aim for a controlled pace, around 2-3 seconds on the way down, 1-2 seconds on the way back to start.
- How To Do It: Start standing at the back extension pad. Lean forward, toes slightly turned outward, knees slightly bent. From there, while keeping the back flat, hinge downward through the hips. You ideally want to form a 90-degree angle over the top of the back extension chair with your tailbone pointing up. Once you reach this position, squeeze through the glutes, maintain your posture, and rise back up. Squeeze the glutes again to hold your standing position.
Lunge With Arm Reach
- Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, quadriceps, core
- Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets, 6-10 times each leg. You can eventually add resistance with a medicine ball, resistance bands, or dumbbells.
- How To Do It: Begin in standing position with a long spine, feet under hips. Arms extend forward at chest height. Begin the lunge on the right side, stepping forward. Carry your weight with you. As your foot comes down, you lean slightly forward, reaching both hands forward past the knee (don’t go lower than knee height). Return to standing by pushing through the right foot and driving the body backwards to stand. That’s a single rep.
- Muscles Worked: Glutes and hamstrings.
- Sets & Reps: 3 sets, 10-12 reps on each leg.
- How To Do It: Stand upright near the bench, holding dumbbells at your sides. Place one foot on the step/bench. Push off the top foot and step up onto the step/bench so both feet are planted. Step down with the opposite foot you started with. Repeat.
Note: Keep a controlled cadence. Worry less about speed and more around controlling the movement. Never let the knee slip too far beyond the toes.
Uni-Leg Chair Squat
- Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, quadriceps
- Sets & Reps: 2-4 sets, 10 reps each leg.
- How To Do It: Start sitting close to the edge of a chair, preferably one with a lower seat. Arms are crossed at chest height. One foot is stable on the floor, and the other leg is lifted off the ground about 8 inches. Engage the abs, lean the chest slightly forward, and start to stand. Do not let the lifted foot drop to the ground. As you rise, shift your weight back so there is energy from the crown of the head to the tailbone. Your supporting knee will not fully extend. Maintain the “squat.” Balance in this position for about 3 seconds before returning slowly to the seated position.
Quadruped Hip Extensions
- Muscles Worked: Hamstrings
- Sets & Reps: 1-2 sets, 8-12 reps with each leg.
- How To Do It: Start on the hands and knees (quadruped position) with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Fingers are pointed forward. Stabilize the core. While keeping the core engage, start to lift one left up towards the ceiling. Keep the knee bent, trying to achieve a 90-degree angle between your raised foot and backside.
Note: Do not let the back sag or arch. Keep your shoulder blades moving in towards the spine. If you want to make this more challenging, you can loop a resistance band around your thighs.
- Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes
- Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets, 10-12 reps each leg.
- How To Do It: Imagine a sprinter, first, so you understand how the arms move opposite of the legs. Stand tall, feet shoulder-width apart. As you step back with the right leg, the right arm moves forward. Go low in the reverse lunge and hold for about 3 seconds. Keep the back straight. Next, drive through the right knee, pump through the arms, and push off the ground. You will land back in the reverse lunge position. Make sure the left knee is not past the toes in lunge.
Note: The lunge shouldn’t be a step forward but rather a brief lift off from the ground. Focus on the coordination of the arms and legs rather than explosiveness.
- Muscles Worked: Glutes
- Sets & Reps: 2 sets, 20 reps on each side.
- How To Do It: Stand parallel to a chair, barre, or countertop. Place your arm against the surface of said chair, barre, or counter and bend both knees slightly. Engage the core. As the knees bent, you lift the outside leg so the body goes forward, becoming nearly level with the countertop/chair/barre and the back thigh is almost parallel with the floor. Place the outer hand on the inside thigh for stability. Resist curving or arching the back. Lift the raised leg up and down, pulsing. Keep the hips from sagging during these movements.
Heavy Barbell Squat
- Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes (all muscles of the posterior chain)
- Sets & Reps: Start with 2-3 sets, 5-8 reps with heavy weight.
- How To Do It: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance. Toes are slightly turned out. Lead with the hips and lower the butt down to hip level. Power through the heels, squeeze the butt, and drive yourself back up to standing.
Box Step Squat
- Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes
- Sets & Reps: 1-2 sets, 10 reps
- How To Do It: Standing, bring your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Toes point forward. Press your palms together in front of your chest and squat down. Thighs are parallel with the floor. Step your right foot to the right side. Left foot follows, bringing you back to the beginning squat. Next, the left foot goes to the left and is followed by the right. Repeat to the right once more. That sequence equals 1 rep.
Bridge With Leg Extension
- Muscles Worked: Gluteus maximus
- Sets & Reps: Start with 5 reps on each side, holding for 5 counts. Advance to 8 reps/8 counts then 10 reps/10 counts.
- How To Do It: Lie supine, knees bent. Feet are flat on the floor. Hands at your sides. Perform a pelvic tilt for stabilization then start raising the hips off the floor, creating a straight diagonal line from the knees to the shoulders. Hold the position and breathe. From there, straighten one leg, maintaining alignment. Repeat with your other leg. Clench the glutes. Keep the hips lifted for the entire exercise.
- Muscles Worked: Glutes, core, hamstrings
- Sets & Reps: 2 sets, 15 reps.
- How To Do It: Lie supine with heels in the foot cradle under the anchor point for the straps. Arms are at your sides. Press through the glutes to lift the low back from the floor. This is start. Now, pull your heels towards the glutes, lifting the hips more. Lower to start. That’s 1 rep.
Note: If you don’t have TRX straps, use a stability ball.
Inclined Rear Leg Extension
- Muscles Worked: Glutes, hamstrings, core
- Sets & Reps: 10-15 reps per leg.
- How To Do It: Start standing. Begin to hinge forward from the hips, lowering your hands to the ground. Place hands shoulder-width apart. Extend the right leg up and back, squeezing through the glutes. Slowly lower the extended leg down to tap the toes. Return to fully extended position. Repeat.
Butt Sit Kick
- Muscles Worked: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core
- Sets & Reps: 2 sets, 10-15 reps, alternating legs
- How To Do It: Standing upright in a curtsy lunge position. Left foot is forward. Squat down, placing your left knee on the ground. Brace the core as you sit back onto your glutes and extend/kick the left leg. Bring the left foot back to the ground, shift onto the right knee, and stand up, bring the right foot out to the side. That’s 1 rep.
Note: If you have trouble getting upright, use your hands.
Single Leg RDL Circuit
- Muscles Worked: Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, core
- Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets, 8-12 reps on each leg.
- How To Do It: You will need to do this exercise 3 ways: Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) with a barbell or dumbbell, with a low cable, and a high cable. Have this set up before you start. When ready, grab the barbell/dumbbells and stand on the left leg. Keep the spine naturally arched. Hinge forward at the hips, pushing the tailbone back as the chest moves forward. Lowering, bend the supporting knee and lift the right leg behind you for counterbalance. Return to start, keeping the back straight. Lower the right leg. Once you finish the with barbell/dumbbell, get the low cable. Repeat. Then get the high cable. Repeat.
Single Leg Ball Squat
- Muscles Worked: Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps
- Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets, 10-20 reps per leg
- How To Do It: Find a wall. Place an exercise ball at the small of your back. While standing on one leg, press the ball with your back against the wall. Squat down slowly, tucking the lifted leg underneath you as you move. Make sure the knee of the supporting leg stays in line with the ankle, behind the toes. Stop when the leg reaches a 90-degree angle. Hold for a count then lift back to the starting position.
Note: You shouldn’t be parallel to the wall but slightly angled towards it to begin, allowing for full ROM.
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Single Leg Wall Lunge
- Muscles Worked: Biceps, Quadriceps, Glutes
- Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets, 8-12 reps on each leg.
- How To Do It: Grab some dumbbells. Stand in front of the wall, back towards the wall. Press one foot against the wall, keeping that knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Lower down and forward into a ¾ squat/forward lunge position. Keep the knee of the front foot in line with the ankle. Perform a biceps curl as you lower, ending the contraction at the lowest point of the squat/lunge. As you press back up, release the biceps curl. Remember to keep the foot pressing into the wall while returning to the 90-degree angle. That’s 1 rep.
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