Imagine this: You’re at the gym, struggling through another set of squats, wondering if you’re really targeting your glutes or just punishing your thighs. You glance over and see someone effortlessly executing a perfect glute bridge, their glutes engaged, their form is straight out of a textbook (or The Prehab App!). They seem to know a secret that you don’t. What if I told you that understanding and incorporating the right glute exercises can transform your workouts and lead to stronger, more defined glutes? That’s where this journey begins to teach you the best glute exercises and why.

The Importance of Strong Glutes

Your glutes are more than just the muscles that fill out your jeans. They play a crucial role in overall body strength, stability, and injury prevention. Strong glutes improve posture, enhance athletic performance, and reduce the risk of lower back and knee injuries. They are also crucial for running, providing power and stability with each stride and even everyday tasks such as going up and down stairs!



lower extremity performance lunge directions prehab guys

Looking to level up your glute gains? Check out all of the exercises mentioned above and more In our Lower Extremity Performance Program. Not only will you build confidence in your glutes but also your entire lower extremity! Get started with your free 7-day trial today! 

The Best Glute Exercises and Why

There are countless ways to train your legs, but not all leg exercises will fall into the category of the best glute exercises. One key reason is that some exercises, like squats and leg presses, engage multiple muscle groups and rely heavily on the quads and hamstrings, which can detract from glute activation if not performed with the proper technique. Additionally, exercises such as glute bridges and hip thrusts are specifically designed to isolate the glutes, providing a more concentrated and effective workout.


glute med


These movements emphasize hip extension, a primary function of the glutes, ensuring that these muscles are fully engaged and worked through their full range of motion. Lastly, exercises like rear foot elevated split squats and lunges can correct muscle imbalances and enhance glute engagement by requiring balance and unilateral strength, making them superior choices for a comprehensive glute workout. If you’re finding that you’re having difficulty performing glute-based exercises at the gym due to pain, check out the video below to get a better understanding of what is going on.

Alright, let’s get into these best glute exercises and more importantly WHY they are the best of the best!



Best Glute Exercise #1: RDL

Among the countless amount of leg exercises, the Romanian deadlift (RDL) stands out as one of the best for targeting the glutes. This exercise emphasizes the hip hinge movement, which is crucial for effective glute activation.


deadlifting with back pain prehab guys

By focusing on the eccentric phase of the lift, where the glutes are lengthened under tension, the RDL maximizes muscle engagement. Additionally, this movement minimizes knee involvement, thereby reducing quad dominance and ensuring that the glutes and hamstrings are the primary drivers. The RDL’s ability to target the posterior chain makes it an exceptional exercise for building strong, well-developed glutes.


Best Glute Exercise #2: Single Leg RDL

The single-leg Romanian deadlift (RDL) is one of the best glute exercises due to its ability to target and isolate the glutes while also enhancing balance and stability. This exercise also emphasizes the hip hinge movement, and by performing it on one leg, you increase the demand on the glutes to maintain stability.


Prehab Membership The Prehab Guys


The single-leg RDL also helps correct muscle imbalances, as each leg works independently, ensuring that both glutes are equally engaged and strengthened. The unilateral nature of this exercise challenges your core and stabilizing muscles, contributing to overall functional strength and improved athletic performance. Variations of the single-leg RDL like the split stance RDL and b-stance RDL fall into this category as well.



Best Glute Exercise #3: Glute Bridges

The glute bridge is one of the best glute exercises due to its ability to isolate these muscles effectively. This exercise focuses on the hip extension movement, which directly engages the gluteus maximus, leading to optimal activation and muscle growth. Unlike many compound leg exercises that also involve the quads and hamstrings, the glute bridge minimizes the involvement of other muscle groups, ensuring that the glutes are the primary drivers of the movement. The glute bridge can be easily modified with added weights or by performing single-leg variations, making it versatile for different fitness levels and goals. Its simplicity and effectiveness make the glute bridge a staple in any glute-focused workout regimen from beginner to expert level.



Best Glute Exercise #4: Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is one of the best glute exercises since it generates high levels of glute activation. Unlike a regular glute bridge, which is performed on the floor, the hip thrust is typically done with the upper back elevated on a bench, allowing for a greater range of motion and increased resistance. This setup maximizes hip extension and places more emphasis on the glutes, leading to enhanced muscle engagement and growth. Research by Bret Contreras, PhD, known as “The Glute Guy,” has shown that hip thrust significantly outperforms other glute exercises in terms of muscle activation. In his studies, Contreras demonstrated that the hip thrust activates the gluteus maximus to a greater degree than traditional exercises like squats and deadlifts, making it an essential movement for anyone looking to build stronger, more developed glutes (Contreras et al 2015).



Best Glute Exercise #5: Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats

The rear foot elevated split squat, also known as the Bulgarian split squat, places a significant load on the glutes by emphasizing hip extension and stabilization. Elevating the rear foot increases the range of motion and depth, enhancing glute engagement and activation. The angle of the torso and position of the knee play crucial roles in determining muscle recruitment. To maximize glute activation, maintain a slight forward lean with the torso and ensure the front knee stays behind the toes. This setup shifts the emphasis from the quads to the glutes. Additionally, the rear foot elevated split squat helps correct muscle imbalances by working each leg independently, ensuring both glutes are equally strengthened. This unilateral exercise also improves balance and stability, as the glutes must work harder to maintain proper form.



Best Glute Exercise #6: Lunges

Exercises like walking lunges and reverse lunges are among the best for targeting and strengthening the glutes due to their dynamic nature and the emphasis they place on hip extension and stability. Walking lunges involve forward motion, which engages the glutes effectively as each step requires hip extension and balance. Reverse lunges shift the focus to the posterior chain as stepping backward into a lunge position increases the activation of the gluteus maximus and improves hip mobility. Additionally, both walking and reverse lunges help correct muscle imbalances by working each leg independently, ensuring balanced glute development. These exercises also improve overall lower body stability and coordination, making them essential components of any glute-focused workout routine.


Closing Thoughts

Incorporating these glute exercises into your fitness routine can lead to significant improvements in strength, stability, and overall fitness. Remember, it’s not just about aesthetics; strong glutes are essential for functional movement and injury prevention. While exercises like the squat are no doubt great leg exercises, the exercises in this article do a better job of isolating the glutes through hip hinging and hip extension. So, next time you’re at the gym, give these exercises a try and notice the difference in your performance. Which glute exercise will you master first?



lower extremity performance lunge directions prehab guys



  1. Contreras, B., Vigotsky, A. D., Schoenfeld, B. J., Beardsley, C., & Cronin, J. (2015). A comparison of gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and vastus lateralis electromyographic activity in the back squat and barbell hip thrust exercises. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 31(6), 452–458.

About The Author

Ryan Nosak, MS, CSCS

[P]rehab Writer & Content Creator

ryan nosak the prehab guysRyan was born and raised in Throop, Pennsylvania and he has worked in the world of fitness since he was 15 years old. Ryan realized he had a deep affinity for strength training and how it can alter the human mind, body, and spirit. He began his coaching career in high school by coaching his friends through strength training sessions, which inspired him to pursue a career in strength and conditioning.

Ryan spent 10 years as a Division 1 strength and conditioning coach with stops along the way at Penn State, Tennessee State, Vanderbilt, Robert Morris, Charlotte, and DePaul. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and operates his own training practice, RyNo Strength, out of Studio DelCorpo in Chicago, IL. He specializes in fat loss, body composition, strength, and sports performance training programs.

Ryan received his Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from Penn State and a Master’s in Sport Management from Western Carolina University. In his free time, Ryan enjoys training for bodybuilding, eating at amazing restaurants in Chicago, and spending time with his wife, daughter, and dog.


Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

About the author : Ryan Nosak MS, CSCS, SCCC

Leave A Comment

Related posts


Select a Child Category

Latest Blogs