5 Best Exercises To Build Upper Glute Muscles

Looking to sculpt your upper glutes and enhance your overall physique?

Dive into these top 5 exercises: Barbell Hip Thrusts, Dumbbell Lateral Lunges, Goblet Sumo Squats, Standing Hip Abductions with Ankle Weights, and Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts for targeted muscle growth.

Keep reading for a detailed guide on how to perform these exercises effectively and safely.

Barbell Hip Thrusts

Barbell Hip Thrusts are a powerhouse move for anyone looking to seriously enhance their upper glute strength and shape.

This exercise not only targets the gluteus maximus but also engages the entire posterior chain, providing a solid foundation for both aesthetic and functional benefits.

Why Barbell Hip Thrusts are a must for your upper glutes

Barbell Hip Thrusts stand out for their unmatched ability to isolate and engage the upper glutes. This exercise:

  • Directly targets the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your glutes, encouraging hypertrophy and strength.
  • Improves your posterior chain's power, which is crucial for better performance in sports, lifting, and everyday activities.
  • Enhances the shape and lift of your buttocks, contributing to a more balanced and aesthetically pleasing physique.
  • Offers functional benefits, such as improved hip mobility and lower back health, by strengthening the muscles around your pelvis.

Step-by-step guide to performing Barbell Hip Thrusts safely and effectively

  1. Setup: Sit on the ground with a bench behind you. The bench should be stable and at a height where, when you lean against it, it hits just below your shoulder blades. Have a barbell with appropriate weight placed over your hips (using a padded barbell or a squat sponge for comfort is recommended).
  2. Positioning: Lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades are near the top of it. Place your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart, with your knees bent. Your feet should be close enough to your butt to allow for proper form but not so close that you feel strained.
  3. Execution: Brace your core and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips and the barbell upwards. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees at the top of the movement. Ensure your chin remains tucked, looking forward or slightly down to maintain a neutral spine.
  4. Hold and Lower: Hold the top position for a second, squeezing your glutes tightly. Then, lower the hips back down to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Tips for adding weight and progressing with this exercise

  • Start Light: Begin with a weight that allows you to maintain good form. Gradually add weight as you become more comfortable with the movement.
  • Progressive Overload: Aim to gradually increase the weight you lift over time. This can be done by adding small amounts of weight each week or every other week, as long as you can maintain proper form.
  • Volume and Frequency: As you progress, you can also increase the volume (more sets or reps) or frequency (number of times per week) of your hip thrust workouts to continue challenging your muscles.
  • Variations: Once you've mastered the barbell hip thrust, consider trying single-leg hip thrusts or using bands for added resistance to keep challenging your glutes.

Dumbbell Lateral Lunges

Dumbbell Lateral Lunges are a dynamic exercise that targets the often-neglected gluteus medius while also enhancing hip mobility and adductor flexibility.

This lateral movement not only diversifies your lower body routine but also addresses important muscle groups for a well-rounded fitness regimen.

The role of Dumbbell Lateral Lunges in targeting the gluteus medius

The gluteus medius is crucial for stabilizing your pelvis and providing support for your hip and thigh movements.

Dumbbell Lateral Lunges specifically target this muscle by requiring it to engage actively to control the sideways motion and stabilize your body during the exercise.

This targeted activation:

  • Enhances lateral movement capabilities, which are essential for various sports and daily activities.
  • Improves the strength and stability of your hips, reducing the risk of injury.
  • Balances muscle development around the hip area, contributing to better posture and lower body aesthetics.

Detailed instructions for executing Dumbbell Lateral Lunges with proper form

  1. Starting Position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand by your sides. Keep your back straight and your core engaged throughout the movement.
  2. The Lunge: Step out to the side with one leg, keeping the other leg straight. As you step out, hinge at the hips and bend your knee to lower your body down, keeping the dumbbell close to your sides. Go as low as you can while maintaining balance and ensuring your bending knee does not go past your toes.
  3. The Push-Back: Push off with your bent leg to return to the starting position. Ensure you engage your gluteus medius and core to bring yourself back up.
  4. Repeat: Perform the desired number of reps on one side before switching to the other leg.

Discussion on the benefits of improved hip mobility and adductor flexibility

Incorporating Dumbbell Lateral Lunges into your workout routine offers significant benefits beyond muscle targeting:

  • Enhanced Hip Mobility: Regularly performing lateral lunges increases the range of motion in your hip joints, which can lead to improved performance in other exercises and daily movements.
  • Increased Adductor Flexibility: The adductors are stretched during the lowering phase of the lunge, which can help alleviate tightness and improve leg mobility.
  • Injury Prevention: By strengthening and increasing flexibility in the hips and adductors, you're less likely to suffer from common lower body injuries.
  • Functional Movement Support: Improved hip mobility and adductor flexibility support functional movements, such as walking, squatting, and bending, making everyday activities easier and more efficient.

Goblet Sumo Squats

Goblet Sumo Squats are an effective variation of the traditional squat that places a greater emphasis on the glutes, particularly the upper glutes, along with the inner thighs and hamstrings.

By adopting a wider stance and holding the weight in front of the chest, this exercise not only challenges your lower body in a unique way but also promotes significant strength and muscle development.

How Goblet Sumo Squats engage the upper glutes

Goblet Sumo Squats are particularly effective for targeting the upper glutes due to the wide stance and external rotation of the hips, which:

  • Increases the activation of the gluteus maximus, with a particular emphasis on the upper portion, as you rise from the bottom of the squat.
  • Engages the gluteus medius and minimus to a greater extent than traditional squats due to the need for hip stabilization throughout the movement.
  • Distributes the load in a manner that emphasizes glute activation over the quadriceps, making it an excellent choice for those looking to enhance glute strength and size.

How to perform Goblet Sumo Squats with the correct stance and weight position

  1. Starting Position: Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your chest, with both hands. Ensure your grip is secure, and the weight is positioned so that it does not strain your arms or shoulders.
  2. The Descent: Keeping your back straight and chest up, initiate the squat by bending your hips and knees. Ensure your knees track over your toes and do not cave inward. Lower yourself down as if sitting back into a chair, going as low as your flexibility allows without compromising your form.
  3. The Ascent: Drive through your heels to return to the starting position, focusing on engaging your glutes and pushing your hips forward to stand up. Keep the weight close to your chest throughout the movement to maintain balance.
  4. Breathing: Inhale as you lower down, and exhale forcefully as you push back up to the starting position.

The advantages of a wider stance for lower body strength and glute activation

The wider stance of the Goblet Sumo Squat offers several advantages:

  • Enhanced Glute Activation: The external rotation and abduction of the hips required in this stance more deeply engage the glutes, particularly the upper and outer regions, for a more comprehensive lower body workout.
  • Improved Inner Thigh Engagement: This stance places greater emphasis on the adductors, or inner thigh muscles, contributing to better balanced muscle development and increased leg strength.
  • Increased Hip Mobility: Regularly performing Goblet Sumo Squats can improve hip flexibility and range of motion, beneficial for both athletic performance and daily activities.
  • Safety and Accessibility: The front-loaded weight position helps maintain a more upright torso, reducing the strain on the lower back and making it a safer option for many individuals, including those with limited mobility or back issues.

Standing Hip Abductions with Ankle Weights

Standing Hip Abductions with Ankle Weights are a simple yet powerful exercise that can significantly impact your upper glute strength and overall balance.

This move, easily performed at home or in the gym, focuses on the lateral movement of the leg away from the body, directly targeting the gluteus medius and minimus.

It's an excellent choice for those looking to sculpt their upper glutes and improve stability without the need for heavy gym equipment.

The importance of Standing Hip Abductions for upper glute and balance improvement

Standing Hip Abductions play a crucial role in:

  • Strengthening the Upper Glutes: This exercise specifically targets the upper portions of the gluteus medius and minimus, essential muscles for hip stabilization, lateral movement, and the rounded appearance of the glutes.
  • Enhancing Balance and Stability: By challenging your ability to maintain balance on one leg while moving the other, this exercise improves your core strength and overall stability, which is beneficial for athletic performance and daily activities.

A guide to performing this exercise at home with minimal equipment

  1. Equipment Needed: All you need is a pair of ankle weights. Start with a lighter weight and gradually increase as you get stronger.
  2. Starting Position: Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Ensure you have something nearby to hold onto for balance, like a chair or a wall.
  3. Execution: Firmly secure an ankle weight around the lower part of one leg. Shift your weight to your standing leg. Slowly lift the weighted leg out to the side, keeping your toe pointed forward and your body straight. Lift the leg as high as you can without tilting your torso to the side.
  4. Controlled Movement: Hold the lift at the top for a moment, then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position. This movement should be controlled and deliberate, focusing on engaging your glute muscles throughout the exercise.
  5. Repetition and Sets: Perform 10-15 repetitions on one side, then switch to the other leg. Aim for 2-3 sets on each side.

Variations to keep the exercise challenging and effective

  • Increase Weight: Gradually adding more weight to the ankle weights will continuously challenge your muscles and encourage growth and strength.
  • Pulse at the Top: Once you've lifted your leg to its highest point, add small pulsing movements for an extra challenge before lowering back down.
  • Standing Hip Abduction with Bands: If you're ready for a different type of resistance, use a resistance band placed just above your knees instead of ankle weights. This variation changes the resistance dynamic and can help further engage the glutes.
  • Incorporate Movement: Instead of standing next to a support, try performing the exercise without holding onto anything to challenge your balance further.

Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts

Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts (SL RDLs) are a challenging and effective exercise that isolates the upper glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, promoting balance, coordination, and unilateral strength.

By focusing on one leg at a time, this exercise helps identify and correct imbalances in strength and flexibility, making it a valuable addition to any fitness regimen.

Why Single-leg Romanian Deadlifts are excellent for upper glute development

SL RDLs specifically target the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the gluteal group, in a way that few other exercises can match:

  • Isolated Glute Engagement: The single-leg aspect of this exercise forces the glute muscles on the working side to engage deeply to stabilize and lift, leading to concentrated muscle development.
  • Improved Muscle Symmetry: By working each leg independently, SL RDLs help correct strength imbalances between sides, contributing to a more symmetrical muscle development.
  • Increased Core Stability: Performing a deadlift on one leg requires significant core engagement, further enhancing the exercise's benefits for overall stability and posture.

Instruction on maintaining balance and form during the exercise

  1. Starting Position: Stand on one leg, with a slight bend in the knee of the standing leg. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in the opposite hand of the working leg.
  2. Execution: Hinge at the hips to lower the weight toward the ground, extending the free leg behind you for balance. Keep your back flat and core engaged throughout the movement. The arm with the weight should move in a straight line close to your leg.
  3. Balance Tips: Focus on a point on the floor ahead of you to help maintain balance. Keep the movement slow and controlled, resisting the urge to rush through the exercise.
  4. Return to Start: Squeeze your glutes to pull yourself back to the starting position, maintaining balance and control throughout the movement.

Strategies for incorporating this exercise into your routine for maximum benefit

  • Progressive Overload: Start with a light weight to master the form and gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable with the exercise.
  • Frequency: Incorporate SL RDLs into your lower body or full-body routines 1-2 times per week, allowing for adequate recovery between sessions.
  • Supplementary Exercises: Pair SL RDLs with exercises that target different aspects of the glutes and lower body, such as squats, lunges, and hip thrusts, for a well-rounded workout.
  • Balance Training: As balance is a key component of this exercise, include balance-focused activities or exercises in your routine to improve your performance in SL RDLs and overall functional fitness.

Practical Tips for Upper Glute Training

When it comes to enhancing the size and strength of your upper glutes, a strategic approach that encompasses training frequency, rest and recovery, and nutrition is essential.

Achieving the best results requires not just hard work but also smart planning and consistency.

Training Frequency for Upper Glutes

For optimal upper glute development, striking the right balance in your training frequency is crucial.

Engaging in targeted glute exercises two to three times per week allows for sufficient stimulation while providing adequate recovery time.

It's important to remember that muscles grow during rest periods, not while you're working out.

Therefore, allowing at least 48 hours between intense glute workouts is vital to give your muscles the chance to repair and grow stronger.

Including a variety of exercises that target the glutes from different angles can help maximize muscle engagement and development without overtraining.

Rest and Recovery in Muscle Building

Rest and recovery are as crucial as the workouts themselves in any muscle-building regimen.

During rest periods, your body repairs the micro-tears in muscle fibers caused by weight training, leading to muscle growth and increased strength.

Lack of adequate rest can lead to overtraining, fatigue, and even injuries, all of which can hinder your progress.

Incorporating active recovery days, where you engage in light, non-strenuous activities such as walking or yoga, can help maintain mobility and circulation, aiding the recovery process.

Ensuring you get enough sleep is also paramount, as growth hormone levels, which play a significant role in muscle repair and growth, spike during deep sleep.

Dietary Suggestions to Support Muscle Growth and Recovery

Nutrition plays a foundational role in muscle growth and recovery. Consuming a balanced diet rich in protein is essential for muscle repair and growth.

Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, and including a variety of sources such as chicken, fish, lean beef, eggs, and plant-based options like beans and lentils can help meet your body's needs.

Carbohydrates are also important, as they replenish glycogen stores used during exercise, providing the energy necessary for your next workout.

Healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil are crucial for hormonal balance and overall health.

Additionally, staying hydrated is vital for optimal muscle function and recovery.

Finally, considering the timing of your nutrient intake can further enhance recovery, with post-workout meals or snacks containing both protein and carbohydrates being particularly beneficial for muscle repair and glycogen replenishment.


In conclusion, building stronger, more defined upper glutes requires a blend of targeted exercises, adequate rest and recovery, and a nutritious diet tailored to muscle growth.

By maintaining a consistent workout routine, prioritizing rest, and fueling your body with the right nutrients, you can achieve noticeable improvements in strength and aesthetics.

Remember, the journey to enhanced upper glute development is a marathon, not a sprint, requiring patience, dedication, and smart training strategies.