What’s the Best Exercise for My Glutes?

Glutes?? Derriere, backside, trunk, the big house, bum, OK… I’m talking about your butt.. Personal Trainers are constantly asked to help make them bigger, smaller, higher, tighter, more like J Lo’s… you get the picture.

So, a couple of quick concepts about training your glutes: They are a hip extensor, meaning that they move the thigh from the front to inline with the hip. Picture driving the leg down as you climb a hill or stand up out of a chair.

There is no spot reducing. Training your glutes, whether you’re using a high number of repetitions or low, will not help reduce the fat in that area. Fat loss is burning more calories than you take in. And, while you lose fat relatively evenly throughout the body, the areas that carry the most fat will be the last areas to appear lean (sorry, it’s just the way it works). Beyond losing body fat, the best way to shape the backside is to do resistance training exercises. This could be body weight, free weights, tubing, machines, etc.

Let’s get right down to it.

What IS the best exercise for your glutes? This can certainly be debated. It could be the back squat, the front squat, Romanian deadlift, or, as is my choice, a variation of a lunge. I like the reverse lunge because it utilizes one leg at a time and its lift phase is pushing up and forward, much like activities in “real life.”

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) offers free video demonstrations of many common exercises including a great demonstration of the reverse lunge.

Video demonstration of the reverse lunge from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Whether you want to lose size, gain size, or change shape, you can change how your backside looks. I’d love to hear about your favorite exercises and about your progress.

Mark Nutting, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT-AR*D, National Strength and Conditioning Association’s 2009 Personal Trainer of the Year, holds 12 certifications in the field and has 30 years experience in personal training. A national presenter and an educator of Personal Trainers, Mark’s areas of expertise include weight loss, post-rehab conditioning, and brain fitness. Mark contributes regularly to the Guiding Stars Blog.

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10 years ago

My vote is for the single leg hip thrust, or the barbell hip
thrust. Position the shoulder blades on the side of a bench, with
butt on the floor. For the single leg, raise on leg and drive the
heel of the planted foot through the floor, fully (or even hyper
extending) the hip. With the barbell version, position a barbell
with a pad on the middle over the hips and do the same motion as
the single leg hip thrust, but with both legs this time. Can be
loaded surprisingly heavy, once the trainee is competent in the