Best Glute Exercises (Bridge is a 6!)

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Last updated on February 8, 2023

The glutes are the strongest muscle group in your body. As a result, a lot of the power that you generate comes, quite literally, from your butt. In order to develop powerful and strong glutes you need to be doing the best glute exercises that are specifically targeting that muscle group through its natural anatomical motion. In this article, we focus on the most popular glutes workout to find which ones you should be doing and which ones to give the flick.

What You Need to Know About the Glutes

Your glutes are actually made up of three separate muscles. These are the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. As the name indicates, the gluteus maximus is by far the largest of the three. The gluteus maximus muscle fibers originate on the inside edge of the posterior side of the pelvis just below the spine. They then travel diagonally to attach on the femur (upper leg bone).


The job of the gluteus maximus is to extend the hip joint by pulling the upper leg down and back. It moves the body up from a seated or squatting position. This involves increasing the angle of the hip joint. That joint is the pivot between the upper legs and the torso. Moving either of those body parts will involve hip extension.


The glutes also externally rotate the femur.


Doing exercises for your glutes will not allow you to get rid of fat in that area. So you cannot get ripped glutes by simply doing more glute exercises. Ripped glutes are a result of very strict dieting. Those glute fiber cross striations will only become visible when your body fat percentage gets down around the 5 percent level.


The best exercises for the glutes will involve hip extension, with either the torso or the upper leg being mobile. An effective glute exercise will also involve full range of motion, early phase loading when the hardest part of the exercise is at the beginning and the ability to work each glute unilaterally.


Ok, let’s rate some butt exercises that targets the glutes (glute activator exercises) and you should incorporate as part of your glute training to get stronger glutes.

Back Lunges – Rating: 6

Back lunges are a good glute workout move that uses the femur as the operating lever. They also allow you to work each glue individually. Another benefit of the back lunge is that there is no load on the back so you will not have to worry about spinal compression when you do this exercise.


The backward lunge works your glutes much more than a forward lunge, which puts more emphasis on the quadriceps. You can add resistance to this exercise by holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands.

Glute Bridge – Rating: 5

The glute bridge, also known as hip thrusts, often with a heavy weight resting across your hips, is an extremely popular exercise that is seen in gyms everywhere. However, it is not an ideal glute movement. One problem with it is that it does not allow for a full range of anatomical movement for the glutes. The floor prevents you from extending the glutes back, effectively eliminating at least 20 percent of natural movement.


The other major problem with glute bridges is that the exercise’s resistance curve is back to front. Instead of the early phase loading where the hardest part of the movement comes at the start position of the exercise, it provides late phase loading. This is also a bilateral rather than a unilateral exercise, preventing you from working either side of the glutes separately. There is even a degree of reciprocal innervation because of the activation of the muscles that move the tibia. These muscles are antagonistic to the glutes. When they are activated, the glutes effectively shut down.

Squats – Rating: 6

Contrary to what most people think, the squat does a better job of working the glutes than it does the quadriceps. However, it is not the best exercise you can do for your glutes. It provides you with all of the spinal loading issues that are inherent with packing a heavy load on your back. The fact that your tibia doubles under the femur also significantly reduces the effective load on the glutes. This means that you have to load even more weight on your back to get an effective load.


Squats do not allow you to work your glutes individually, which is the ideal. Also, with the squat there is no resistance at the end of the range of motion. This also applies to other versions of this movement such as the Bulgarian Split Squat or split squats.

Multi Hip Machine Glute Extensions – Rating: 10

The glute extension of the multi hip machine is the single best exercise that targets the gluteus for a stronger butt. The problem is that many gyms will not have a machine on which to do this movement. Regardless of this, it is possible to innovate in order to replicate the movement as best as possible.


The exercise involves standing alongside a rotational resistance machine and placing your closest knee over a roller set at hip height. You then push down to move your glutes through their full range of motion.


This exercise has many advantages over the more commonly seen glute movements. For a start, there is no weight on the torso so you do not have to worry about spinal compression as you would squats or deadlifts. This is also a unilateral exercise, so you are able to focus on each glute individually. You can use a heavier weight when working each side individually than when you do a bilateral exercise.


The range of motion on the multi hip machine glute extension is far superior than any other glute exercise. In addition, the resistance curve of the exercise is more ideal as it allows for early phase loading, where the hardest part of the exercise is at the beginning of the movement. Unlike the squat, there is also a level of resistance at the end of the range of motion.

Wrap Up

The best exercise for an effective butt workout to really engage your glutes is the glute extension of the multi hip machine. If you have access to this piece of equipment, consider yourself lucky and stick to this exercise exclusively. If not, look for ways to adjust what you have to simulate the movement. Failing that, the next best workout to train your glutes is the back lunge. if you want to really strengthen your glutes do these exercises.


Our site has exercises for women and men, both for your lower and upper body, written by experts so that you have the best knowledge for your fitness objectives (for example lowering body fat).


This includes how to exercises (for example how to do different squat variation – front squat, sumo squat, pistol squat, goblet squat; different lunge variation – reverse lunges, the walking lunge, curtsy lunges; the sumo deadlift, donkey kicks, the kettlebell swing, the single leg Romanian deadlift, hip abductions). Best exercises for you to do (best workouts for stability balls, best workouts for resistance bands, best leg exercises); and nutrition guides.

Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

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