7 Best Glute Building Exercises

Feb 24, 2022
Mark Carroll

My 7 FAVOURITE glute exercises that I always program! As a coach, it’s very common to be asked “what’s the best glute exercise to do for growth?”. In reality, it’s not really about what the best exercise is for your glutes, but actually the best group of exercises that work best when programmed together!

For many people, glute growth or strength gains is a hard task – big glutes do not come naturally to most. In saying that, it doesn’t mean that growing some killer glutes is completely unachievable for many – absolutely not!

With the right programming, dedication and diet (and no, I’m not talking about a deficit, I’m talking about a SURPLUS), glute growth and optimisation can be easily achieved by anyone! 

Okay let’s get into the good stuff. These 7 exercises are what I have used and still use for many of my clients, male or female, who have seen amazing results with their glutes:

  1. High Box Step Up – Eccentric Focused: If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen me post multiple times about how step ups have the highest glute activation of all glute exercises… it’s the GOAT. We have a greater glute emphasis with the higher step and also increase the intensity with slow eccentrics by lowering yourself for 3-4 seconds.
  2. Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift: From experience with my clients, I find that a lot of people will feel a greater load in their glutes with a trap bar over a regular barbell due to the handles being by their sides.
  3. Kas Glute Bridge: These are a big favourite of mine! I am yet to find another exercise that light up your glutes in the shortened position as much as these do. I am forever thankful for @coach_kassem for teaching these to me!
  4. Smith Machine Hip Thrust – Drop Sets: The smith machine is a bit of a love/hate relationship for me BUT, when it comes to thrusting with a smith machine I am a big fan! Plus, when we are adding in intensity techniques, like a drop set in this case, it’s so much easier to drop plates off the smith machine as compared to a normal barbell.
  5. Straddle Lift: When it comes to straddle lifting for glute mac emphases, we want to make sure that we are NOT in a sumo stance. We need to be in a more regular foot stance for these to take away from the adductors and put more power in the glutes.
  6. Floating Deadlift: Whether you’ve heard me refer to these as floating deadlifts or deficit deadlifts, they’re all the same and all great for glutes! By creating the extra deficit between our feet and the ground, it requires us to bring our glutes down further before lifting which therefore creates greater tension in them over the lower back.
  7. Leg Press – 1 & ¼ Reps: If you’re wanting the most glute max emphasis, your feet need to be high and narrow to bring them through a larger range of motion. The 1 & ¼ reps are  fantastic here in the bottom of the rep to further bias the glutes in that lengthened position.

Now, I’m not saying that these 7 exercises are the be-all-and-end-all. I’m just saying that these are the top 7 that I use with my clients when focusing on glute growth and/or strength gains. 

Are you doing any of these exercises? If not, make sure you give them a go! Your glutes will be burning but it’s a good thing.

Yours in health & fitness,

Coach Mark Carroll