6 Glute Strengthening Exercises For the Gym
Let’s face it — as women, most of us want to strengthen our glutes. It’s one of the reasons why ‘leg day’ has become a common fitness term you might have heard at the gym.
You can use glute strengthening exercises to build and sculpt your glutes, and while this might already be reason enough for you to incorporate more leg workouts into your fitness routine, having strong glutes actually has SO many more benefits! It can help make day-to-day activities a lot easier, like walking or climbing stairs, and simply standing upright.
When you learn how to work your glutes, you can avoid injury due to weakened muscles, reduce knee pain, and support your lower back.
By doing glute activation exercises before your leg workout, you can also ensure they fire up properly during your workout and help you to get the most out of every exercise you do!
Here are six glute strengthening exercises you can do at the gym.
Use these glute building exercises at the gym
As I mentioned earlier, make sure to activate your glutes first with some warm up exercises and just like with my at-home glute exercises, pick a few of these exercises and make your own mini circuit.
Aim for 10-15 reps each exercise. Take the time to build up your confidence and get into the correct movement patterns before you start to increase the weight.
You’ll need access to different machines at the gym and some free weights, so make sure to take note of what you will need so that you don’t waste time moving from one piece of equipment to the next.
Now ladies, grab your drink bottle, sweat towel and let’s get that lower body to work!
Sumo Squat (Smith Machine)
This is one of the best glute exercises for women who want to start lifting heavier weights, as the machine holds the bar steady for you so you can concentrate on the movement.
Be mindful that your heels don’t lift off the floor as the bar moves up and down. Really focus on holding a strong core and contracting your glutes.
- Set the height of the Smith machine bar to approximately chin height. Position yourself underneath the bar so that it rests on your shoulders. Place both hands on the bar in an overhand grip (palms facing away from your body) slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Standing underneath the bar with it resting on your shoulders, plant both feet on the floor further than shoulder-width apart. Point both feet slightly outward. Stand up tall and release the bar from its locked position. This is your starting position.
- Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees point toward your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains between a 45- to 90-degree angle to your hips.
- Exhale. Push through your heels and extend your legs to return to the starting position.
Sumo Leg Press
The leg press machine isn’t just to focus on your quads! Moving your feet to a wider, ‘sumo’ stance can help utilise this as a glute building exercise. It also places more emphasis on the hamstrings.
- Sit in the leg press and plant your feet on the foot plate further than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Press the foot plate away from your torso and release the leg press from its locked position. This is your starting position.
- Inhale. Bend your knees and lower the foot plate towards your torso until your knees almost touch your chest.
- Exhale. Extend your knees and press the foot plate away to return to the starting position, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes at all times.
- Repeat, ensuring that you return the leg press to its locked position.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Elevating your back foot helps to really place an emphasis on the glute of your grounded leg. Focus on keeping your front knee behind your toe to maximise glute activation.
- With a bench placed horizontally behind you, safely place a barbell on your shoulders. Plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart and carefully step your right foot backwards, allowing the ball of your foot to rest on top of the bench. Carefully shuffle your left foot forward, if needed. This is your starting position.
- Inhale. Bend both knees to approximately 90 degrees, ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. When done correctly, your front knee will be aligned with your ankle.
- Exhale. Push through the heel of your left foot and toe of your right foot to extend both legs and return to the starting position.
- Complete half of the specified number of repetitions on the same side, before completing the remaining repetitions on the other side.
Using a cable machine allows you to get a good range of motion, so you’ll really be challenging those glutes!
- Connect the ankle wrap attachment and set the cable pulley at the bottom of the pole. Wrap the attachment around your left ankle. Turn to face the cable pulley. Standing a half-step away, plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Rest both hands on the pole at approximately chest height. This is your starting position.
- Inhale. Exhale. Keeping your right leg firmly planted, extend your left leg backwards directly behind your body, ensuring that your foot remains flexed and you maintain an upright position.
- Inhale. Slowly lower your left leg to return to the starting position.
- Repeat, ensuring that you complete an equal number of reps on both sides.
Barbell Hip Thrust
This is one of the best glute exercises for the gym because you can add weight with a barbell! A hip thrust exercise helps to build posterior strength, helping to increase the power of your lower body.
- Begin seated on the ground, with a bench placed horizontally behind you, and your knees bent. Lay a barbell across your hips, holding it with both hands on either side of your hips. You may wish to place a pad or towel around the bar to increase comfort. With knees bent and feet firmly planted on the floor, lean back onto the bench so that it is gently pressing into your upper back. This is your starting position.
- Inhale. Exhale. Holding onto the barbell, press your heels into the mat and raise your hips off the floor until your body forms one straight line from chin to knee, resting your shoulders on the bench and ensuring that your head is an extension of your spine.
- Inhale. Lower your hips to return to the starting position, but without resting your glutes on the mat.
Using the cable pulley to perform a hip extension is a great way to target the glutes and hamstrings. This glute exercise is particularly helpful for people who sit behind a desk or do a lot of driving — it can help to keep both your glutes and hips strong.
- Connect the rope attachment and set the cable pulley at the bottom of the pole. Turn to face away from the cable pulley. Standing one step away, plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart, ensuring that you have one foot on either side of the cable pulley. Place both hands on the rope with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards) and find a neutral standing position, holding the rope directly in front of your body with arms extended. This is your starting position.
- Inhale. While maintaining a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward from your hips until your torso is parallel to the floor.
- Once your torso is parallel with the floor, exhale. Push through your heels and, using your glutes and hamstrings, extend your hips to return to the starting position, ensuring that your arms remain extended and relaxed.
Add some of these glute exercises to your routine!
Your glutes are an important muscle group that can impact a whole range of movements, so adding glute building exercises to your routine can make a difference to the results of your training.
When you’re trying to gain lean muscle, the foods you eat to support your goals is really important too, so focusing on a well-balanced diet will ensure you are maximising your results.
If you enjoyed these exercises, you can find more gym based workouts in the High Intensity Strength with Kayla program in the Sweat app.
What is your favourite glute exercise? Let me know in the comments!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.