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While the Nineties may have celebrated flat butts, we're in the midst of a different era entirely, where good-looking backsides are all the rage. But here's the thing—strong glutes will never go out of fashion because of their outsized role in upright stability and dynamic movements. Your glutes help you rise from a sitting position and walk up a hill, and they generate immense power for athletes. Weaknesses stem from sedentary modern lifestyles and must be overcome for optimized movement. Whether you're just starting with glute activations or want to level up your butt workouts, we've got suggestions for bodyweight exercises and strength training at home.

Anatomy of the glutes

The buttock area comprises a superficial gluteal muscle group including three main muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. You've probably heard of the gluteus maximus, the largest, heaviest, and strongest muscle in the human body. It is the closest to the surface of the three muscles, so it's the most significant factor in how your bum looks and is responsible for hip extension and the stability of joints, including the knee joint.

The glute max moves your leg back. The gluteus medius and minimus are involved in hip abduction and pelvic stabilization. They move your leg out to the side and are found on the outside of the hip and top of your bum, respectively. The deep gluteal muscle group includes the piriformis, which lies on top of the sciatic nerve and assists with the external rotation of the hip.

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Benefits of strong glutes

Strong glutes are essential to sound musculoskeletal health. These muscles oppose gravity, hold the body up, and offer shock absorption when you walk. Healthy glute muscles can contribute to better balance and improved posture and mobility. A stronger gluteus maximus provides core stability and can prevent lower back pain and knee injuries.

Weak glutes give rise to hip pain. If you want to walk faster for longer and climb stairs without issue, this is the area of the body you'll want to work on.

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Essential glute activation warm-ups

Activating the glutes before exercise can encourage proper form, enhance the effectiveness of your lower body workout, and prevent injuries. You can warm up by walking for ten minutes or performing the clam.

Lie on your left side on a yoga mat with your head relaxed on your arm, and bend both knees and move them forward until your feet line up with your butt. Keep your feet together and lift your right knee towards the roof before lowering it to the starting position. Repeat ten times before switching sides and replicating the movement.

In addition, crab walks and donkey kicks are excellent movements to fire up the glutes.

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Bodyweight glute workouts

You don't need any fancy equipment for glute exercises. Great butts can be built ASAP with a home workout. For a glute bridge, lie on your back gazing straight up at the ceiling with your arms resting by your sides. Bend your knees and rest your feet flat on the mat, hip-width apart.

Now, keeping your feet on the floor, lift your pelvis high until your shoulders and knees form a line. Hold at the top while squeezing the glutes and lower your hips back to the ground. Do 15 reps. Follow with squats and lunges.

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Using props for glute training

Once bodyweight exercises start to feel easy, you can challenge the glutes by increasing resistance with bands or everyday items. For clams and glute bridges, you'd be looping the band around your lower thighs, for example. Look to your pantry for props.

You can do squats holding a full gallon of water with both hands or fill a backpack with cans and lunge, making sure to keep your chest high. You could also squat and lift the backpack above your head as you rise or do a kettlebell swing with the gallon of water. Adding weights in this manner adds a strength training component to your workout for increased muscle building.

Young athlete using kettlebells while exercising squats during sports training in health club. Drazen Zigic/ Getty Images

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Advanced glute exercises

If you've been working out for a while or want to explore more advanced movements for athletic performance, you'll find a wide range of progressions beyond performing basic moves with dumbbells. Single-leg movements are a great place to start. Remember the glute bridge? Well, you can try a single-leg version where you plant just one foot on the ground and lift the other leg straight up before lifting the hips.

Or you could opt for plyometric exercises like split squat jumps to generate more explosive power. This movement is actually more of a lunge and is sure to get the heart racing. Avoid landing on your front toes.

Adult Woman Training Legs Doing Squat and Jumping diego_cervo / Getty Images

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Creating a balanced glute workout routine

For a comprehensive butt workout targeting all three glute muscles, here's how you can structure your workout. Target your gluteus minimus with side-lying leg lifts, fire hydrants, or clams, doing 15 reps on each side.

Target the gluteus medius with single-leg bridges, lunges, and squats. And work the gluteus maximus by doing split squats and glute bridges. Some of these exercises target more than one glute muscle, and you can up the ante with weights and plyometrics as you progress, ensuring you consult with relevant health professionals if you have any health conditions so they can advise about modifications.

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Common mistakes and how to avoid them

Incorrect form allows you to maximize gains and minimize the risk of injury. For example, avoid lifting too high and overarching the lower back during the glute bridge, or you'll be working the wrong muscle. Try not to go through the movement too quickly either, especially as you lower back to the ground.

Up next, the lunge. Make sure your front knee doesn't extend past your toes, or you won't be working your glutes as much, and you'll be putting strain on your knees.

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Tracking progress and adaptations

Before you start working on your glutes, there's a way to check whether they're weak. Use the front-facing camera on your smartphone to assess your movement. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and squat more than once. Do you notice your knee caving in on either side? The side where the knee moves inward indicates the weaker side that would benefit from glute strengthening. You can also put the dumbbells away and try this with a single-leg squat.

Once you've strengthened your glutes, your knee won't cave in, and the movement will be much more stable and fluid. For optimal glutes, more challenging exercises like elevated glute bridges and hip thrusts will come into play.

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Nutrition tips to support muscle growth

Eating protein-rich whole foods during the post-exercise recovery period is the best way to enhance muscle recovery and growth after glute workouts. Eggs, fish, meat, nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, fruits and veggies are examples of whole foods or foods that are unprocessed.

How much protein you need depends on various factors, including your activity level. You can use this online calculator to get an idea of your protein requirements. For reasons of cost and convenience, you may need to pair your whole food intake with a protein supplement.

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Expert insights and additional resources

Physical therapists and experts in the field will tell you that intense glute sessions shouldn't occur daily but every other day. Overtraining or focusing solely on the glutes can lead to imbalances, so work these muscles as part of a full-body training program and stretch after your workouts.

Vary your exercises to activate the gluteus muscles differently and keep your routines interesting. When you feel you've plateaued and the movements have become too easy, check out video tutorials to perfect your technique, look up adaptations on credible medical school and health websites, or consult a qualified fitness professional.

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The bottom line

Targeted glute workouts have multiple benefits besides making your booty look good enough to demand peach emojis from your besties. From better posture and balance to less knee and hip pain, strengthening the glutes, which include the largest muscle in the body, is crucial for better mobility and sports performance.

You don't need specialized equipment to work the glutes effectively, and if you practice consistently, at least two times a week, you should see positive change within three months.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.