Glute Workouts for Women

All About That Bass: Band and Deliver

Personal trainer and computer programmer Kelly Von Schleis shares her “secret code” for great glutes in this exercise-band-and-dumbbell workout.

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If building a better booty has felt as challenging and frustrating for you as trying to code a computer, well, you’ve come to the right place.

Certified health coach and personal trainer Kelly Von Schleis — who by day customizes software for hospitals as an IT healthcare consultant — has perfected a number of glutes-focused workouts while working with online clients across the fitness spectrum, from newbies to advanced athletes alike. 

Here, the Los Angeles-based, fabulously fit computer programmer, who also specializes in Pilates, boxing, HIIT, and gymnastics training, shares one of the best she’s ever developed: a five-move routine that she promises will torch calories while shaping and toning your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core. 

“I personally attain the best glute activation when I add a resistance band just above my knees with these weighted exercises, which adds force and helps isolate the glutes by keeping tension in the band,” Von Schleis explains. “You’ll also get extra benefits from each move by adding isometric holds or pulses on the last rep of each exercise.”

Equipment required: Exercise bands, set of dumbbells

Suggested warm-up: 12 air squats, 20 alternating forward lunges, 20 alternating runner’s lunges to plank, and 12 squat jumps

Workout overview: Do each of the following five exercises back-to-back, circuit style, for three rounds in total. Place a resistance band around your legs so it sits just above the knee and keep it there for the duration of the workout. Pyramid up the weight you use each round. “I see increased benefits for myself and clients when progressively loading the exercise with heavier dumbbells each set, which has resulted in some eye-catching booty development,” Schleis says.

Kelly Von Schleis’ Band & Booty Circuit

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Side-to-Side Squat 3 12, 10, 8*
Dumbbell Swing 3 12, 10, 8
Sumo Stance Dumbbell Squat 3 12, 10, 8#
Glute Bridge Pulses 3 20, 15, 10†
Dumbbell Squat + Heel Raise Holds 3 12, 10, 8

* Hold the last rep of each set for five seconds in the narrow-stance, full-squat position.
# After the last full rep of each set, do five small “pulse” reps.
After the last full rep, do an isometric hold in the top position until failure.

Dumbbell Side-to-Side Squat
Dumbbell Side-to-Side Squat

1. Dumbbell Side-to-Side Squat (Right-Narrow-Left-Narrow)

How-to: Assume a squat position, feet placed slightly wider than your hips, chest up and eyes focused forward, holding a dumbbell on each shoulder. From here, step to the right a few inches — as much as the exercise band will allow — and slowly and steadily lower yourself down into a full squat, reaching a point where your thighs are parallel with the floor. Return to a standing position, bringing your feet together in a narrow stance just inside shoulder width, and then lower yourself into a squat. Repeat a third time to the left, and then a fourth again in a narrow stance. Those four squats equal one full rep. 

Kelly’s pointers:As you sit back into the low squat, you want to keep your chest up and shoulders back. Push through the outside of the heels to add tension and help prevent your knees from buckling in, which is a common error. If you can’t see your toes when you’re in the lowermost position, your knees are coming too far forward.”

Dumbbell Swing
Dumbbell Swing

2. Dumbbell Swing

How-to: Stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width, holding a dumbbell at one end with both hands in front of your hips. From here, squat down by bending both knees and lower the dumbbell down between your legs, then swing it up and out in front of you as you straighten your legs to drive it up. At the top, your arms will be outstretched in front of you and the weight will be about nose height. In one continuous motion, allow the dumbbell to come back down to the start position as you bend your knees to ready yourself for the next rep.

Kelly’s pointers: “Let your legs do the work! After you swing the weight backwards between your knees, thrust your glutes with a smooth forward movement. Never lock out your knees at the top of the swing, ‘pop’ the hips straight ahead, and clench those glutes together with all of the force you’ve got. Continue the movement with controlled momentum from rep to rep without pausing.”

Sumo Stance Dumbbell Squat
Sumo-Stance Dumbbell Squat

3. Sumo-Stance Dumbbell Squat

How-to: Stand holding the end of a dumbbell in each hand in a vertical (not horizontal) position in front of your hips, with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, knees unlocked, and your toes turned out slightly. Keeping your head neutral, abs tight and torso upright, bend at the knees and hips to slowly lower your body, as if you were going to sit down in a chair. Pause when your legs reach a 90-degree angle, then forcefully drive through your heels, extending at your hips and knees until you return to standing.  

Kelly’s pointers: “Stance is key. Start with feet just wider than hip-width and adjust to your own sweet spot — too narrow and you won’t challenge those adductors or hamstrings, too wide and you’ll jam up at the hip joint in the bottom of the exercise. ‘Crush a walnut’ between your cheeks at the top and shoot the hips forward as you exhale. Your glutes should feel like they’re catching fire when you hold the final rep of each set for five seconds!”

Glute Bridge Pulses
Glute Bridge Pulses

4. Glute Bridge Pulses

How-to: Lie on the floor and place your feet flat, knees pointed upward. Lift your hips up until your knees, glutes and shoulders form a straight line — do not hyperextend at the top. Hold the bridge position for 3-5 seconds before lowering yourself slowly down. 

Kelly’s pointers: “Keep your feet screwed flat to the floor, and imagine you’re trying to clench a quarter between your cheeks the entire movement. On the final rep of each set, hold yourself as high as you can, with tiny ‘pulses’ in your glute muscles and thighs pushing the knees outward until failure. You should be shaking like a saltshaker while you hold that rep.”

Dumbbell Squat and Heel Raise Holds
Dumbbell Squat and Heel Raise Holds

5. Dumbbell Squat + Heel Raise Holds

How-To: Assume the same starting position as the side-to-side squat with the dumbbells on your shoulders and feet placed slightly wider than your hips. From here, lower yourself down into a full squat, taking a four-count to do so. Explode upward out of the bottommost position and raise upward so you’re up on your toes with your heels elevated off the floor. Hold that topmost heel raise for a three-count, then lower your heels to the floor and repeat.

Kelly’s pointers: “When you’re exploding up, it should feel like you’re about to shoot a basketball. ‘Push’ into your big toes to raise your heels while keeping your knees and heels straight, and try to reach your tallest point possible for the heel hold. Your calves will be screaming at you by the end. If you want to turn this into a full-body exercise, consider adding a shoulder press with the dumbbells as you stand up.”