Top Glute Strength Exercises - The Barbell Physio

Top Glute Strength Exercises


Top Glute Strength Exercises

Sub-optimal glute strength is one of the most common faults I see in athletes. This can lead to a host of injuries as well as decreased performance.

We’ve previously discussed using the push press as a test of the hip (glute) versus knee dominance in athletes. Analyzing an athlete’s movement while doing high rep push press’s will show their default mechanics. Below left, the athlete is not effectively load her hips and demonstrating a quad dominance pattern. To the right, she is loading her hips to most efficiently develop power.

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The Push Press is a great full body #exercise that allows for transfer of forces from the #hips through the #core and to the upper extremities. It also makes a great assessment tool in athletes to see if they are effectively using their #glutes. In the picture to the left, the athlete is #quad dominant and not effectively loading her hips. To the right, she loads the glutes and hamstrings, which will allow for a more powerful push press. Read more in my #CrossFit Journal article “Hip and Athletic Performance” at #wod #mobility #fitness #workout #barbell #heavysquatsfixeverything #pickitupandputitdown #weightlifting #CSCstrong #biomechanics #getglutes #functionalmovement #CrossFit

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You can read more about this test, and another glute activation test in my CrossFit Journal Article “The Hip and Athletic Performance.”

If your glute strength is sub-optimal, here are the best glute exercises I find work for my athletes. These can be used as part of a program designed to build up strength or as a warm-up drill to get the glutes ready to work.

The Best Glute Exercises

Side-Lying Clams

A very simple, low-level drill, but when you focus on pushing your foot into the wall and keeping the foot flat, this clamshell variation will make your backside burn. Works great as a warm-up drill or as a way for those having trouble feeling their butt muscles work or always cramping in their hamstrings to get back in touch with their glutes.

Frog Pumps

This is another lower level exercise that I’ll transition athletes towards for higher reps making it (1) a great hypertrophy exercise and (2) another great drill for those who tend to feel their hamstrings take over glute exercises.

McGill Side Plank

The gluteus muscles don’t work in isolation, so this exercise from Craig Liebenson is great because it also incorporates more lumbar stabilization at the same time.


Glute Bridge Variation

This simple variation on your standard bridge takes it to the next level. Emphasize a glute squeeze before each repetition and progress to performing with a band across your hips or other resistance.


Side Plank with Hip Abduction

Take your standard side plank and raise/lower the top leg repeatedly. Research on this exercise has shown HUGE gluteus medius and gluteus Maximus muscle activation.

Single-Leg Deadlifts

When performed properly, there are few exercises that work the hips, as well as the SLDL does. Focus on the keys discussed in this video to get the most out of this exercise.

Hip Thrusts

Whether banded, with a barbell, bodyweight, or single-legged, hip thrusts are an awesome exercise to build serious butt strength! The setup position of this exercise with performed by bending your knees without the hips going deep into flexion we can minimize the contributions of the hamstrings and adductors…simply put this forces more work on your butt muscles.

Banded Hip Hinges

By combining weights with a resistance band increasing the hip extension demands, this exercise is a killer glute exercise!


Ready for your four-week glute fix? Check out out BULLETPROOF GLUTES program for four weeks of workouts designed to build up your backside!