9 Intense Glute Isolation Exercises for a Stronger, More Toned Butt!

By
Mike Kenler
October 19, 2020

What are the 'Glutes'?

The gluteal muscles make up our buttocks. Our glutes are comprised of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus.

The gluteus maximus is one of the strongest muscles in the body. As you can see, it is the biggest of the three gluteal muscles. The gluteus maximus provides most of the shape, power, and explosiveness of the glutes and it is mainly responsible for movement of the thighs and hips.

However, all three gluteal muscles play important roles in movement. The gluteus medius aids in hip rotation and stabilization and the gluteus minimus helps to extend our hips.

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Benefits of Glute Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises specifically target one particular muscle group. This enables us to strengthen our glutes without simultaneously targeting other muscles like our quads or hamstrings. Specifically training the glutes can be a smart training method for many reasons.

1. Injury Prevention

Our glutes are relatively large muscles in the human body. They are responsible for moving our hips and thighs, as well as providing stability to the pelvic region. When we under-train the glutes, we risk injury to our knees, hamstrings, hips, and lower back. 

For example, weak glutes are the primary cause of rounding the lower back during a deadlift. This is a surefire way of injuring our back. When we do glute isolation exercises, we ensure that our glutes are strong enough to support our body during vigorous exercise. 

2. Better Athletic Performance 

Strengthening our glutes doesn’t just help us perform better in exercises like the deadlift or squat. Strong glutes are essential for almost any athletic movement — running, jumping and lunging all depend on sturdy gluteal muscles for explosiveness and stability.

If we neglect our glutes, we are only limiting our athletic potential!


3. Improved Aesthetics 

Let’s face it. Nearly all of us would prefer to have a sculpted and toned butt. While reducing body fat largely depends on our dietary choices, we can also build muscle in our glutes to improve the appearance of our backside.

Here’s the good news — isolation exercises are the best exercises to accomplish this goal.

9 Intense Glute Isolation Exercises

1. Leg Extended Hip Thrust 

The leg extended hip thrust is a powerful bodyweight glute isolation exercise.

Lie on your back with your knees bent, your arms by your sides and your palms facing down. Straighten one leg and squeeze your glutes to thrust your hips up towards the ceiling.

Pause at the top and slowly return to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat!

2. Back Elevated Hip Thrust 

You will need a bench, couch, or some other elevated surface for this hip thrust variation.

Position your upper back on the elevated surface and plant your feet on the ground. Contract your abs and glutes to thrust upwards until your body is roughly parallel with the ground.

Squeeze your glutes hard at the top and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat!

3. Donkey Kicks 

Donkey kicks can be performed nearly anywhere.

Assume a starting position on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders. Brace your abs and extend one leg backwards as far as you can.

Squeeze your glutes and slowly return to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat!

4. Fire Hydrants

The fire hydrant is a simple bodyweight glute isolation exercise that mainly targets the gluteus medius.

Assume a starting position on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders.

Keeping your leg bent, lift one leg out to the side, stopping at hip-height. Return to the starting position. Repeat!

5. Glute Kickbacks

Glute kickbacks can be used to train each side of your glutes unilaterally.

To begin, set the pulley machine to the lowest possible position. Secure the ankle attachment in place and assume a standing position in front of the cable machine.

Holding onto the machine for stability, contract your glutes to kick your leg back as far as possible. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the rep and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat!

6. Hip Bridges

The hip bridge is an essential bodyweight glute exercise that everyone should add to their repertoire.

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, your knees bent, and your palms facing down.

Contract your glutes to raise your hips off the floor as high as they can go. Squeeze your glutes hard at the top and then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat!

7. Leg Back Toe Down Pulses 

Much like the donkey kicks, leg pulses are useful because they require no equipment and are relatively simple to perform.

To begin, assume a starting position on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders.

Extend one leg straight behind you with your toes facing downwards. Squeeze your glutes to pulse your leg and up down. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions and switch legs!

8. Lying Hip Abductions 

Lying hip abductions mainly target the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus.

To begin, lie on your side with your legs out straight and your upper body supported by your forearms. Squeeze your glutes to raise your top leg as high as you can.

Pause at the top and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions and switch legs!


9. Leg Out Side Circles

The leg out side circle may look simple, but you will definitely feel the burn during this glute isolation exercise.

Assume a starting position on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders. Extend one leg straight out to the side with your toes facing forward.

Squeeze your glutes to move your foot in a circular motion. Make sue to switch directions of the circle and to switch legs!

Looking for a Killer Glute Workout?

Follow along to this intense 5 minute at home hip and glute workout!


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Mike Kenler
Director of Writing | Certified in Plant Based Nutrition at T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

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