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Glute Workouts for Women

Sculpt This, Not That: Gorgeous Glutes

Use these tips to perfect your rear view.

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Psst! Want to know a secret? All leg workouts are glute workouts

That’s because the quadriceps, hamstrings and glute muscles function together synergistically, meaning that if you’re doing a squat, a leg press, a lunge or the like, all your lower-body muscles are firing to get the job done. That being said, there are certainly ways you can effectively target your glutes just a little bit more on your lower-body training days.

The following workout combines four high-impact, major-results exercises with some additional tweaks found in our “Sculpt This, Not That” section to get your rear in gear.

The Great Glute Workouts

Strength

Complete all sets and reps of one move before continuing to the next. Rest as needed.

Exercise Sets Reps
Smith-Machine Squat 4 15, 12, 10, 8
Leg Press 4 15, 12, 10, 8
Romanian Deadlift 4 10-12
Barbell Hip Thrust 3 12-15

Fat Burning

Perform the moves back-to-back with little to no rest in between. Rest no more than 30 seconds between rounds and complete four total rounds.

Exercise Sets Reps
Smith-Machine Squat 4 15, 12, 10, 8
Leg Press 4 15, 12, 10, 8
Romanian Deadlift 4 10-12
Barbell Hip Thrust 3 12-15

Smith Machine Squat
Smith-Machine Squat

Smith-Machine Squat

Stand inside a Smith machine with the bar positioned across your upper back and traps. Space your feet just outside shoulder-width apart with your legs and feet turned out slightly from your hips. Lift your chest and keep your focus forward and your back straight as you bend your knees and hips to squat down, as if sitting in a chair. When your thighs just break parallel, drive through your heels and extend your knees and hips to return to the start.

Sculpt This, Not That: Take advantage of the fixed bar in the Smith machine and shift your feet  12 to 18 inches forward so they are slightly in front of your hips rather than underneath them. This variation increases the involvement of the glutes and hamstrings by taking the quads from beneath your direct center of gravity, leaving your posterior chain to assume the load.  

Leg Press
Leg Press

Leg Press

Sit squarely in a leg press machine and position your feet on the sled shoulder-width apart with your legs and feet turned outward slightly from your hips. Unlatch the sled from the safeties. Keeping your chest up and your lower back pressed into the pad, bend your knees and slowly lower the sled under control as far as you can without your glutes beginning to peel off the pad. Pause briefly and then forcefully extend your knees and hips to press the sled back to the top, stopping just short of locking out your knees.

Sculpt This, Not That: Instead of putting your feet in the center of the sled, place them higher so your toes are almost at the top edge. As with the Smith-machine squat where your feet are placed forward of your body, this position really engages the glutes and hamstrings by taking the otherwise-dominant quadriceps out of the direct line of resistance. (Don’t believe us? Try it and you’ll feel the difference instantly.)

Romanian Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift

Romanian Deadlift

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell in front of your upper thighs directly above your toes in an overhand or mixed grip. Brace your core to maintain the natural arch in your lower back and keep your spine straight as you push your glutes rearward, hinging forward from your hips. Lower the bar in a straight line, keeping it close to your thighs and shins as you descend. Lower as far as you comfortably can without allowing your back to round, or until your torso is roughly parallel with the floor. Reverse the steps and rise back to the start, squeezing your glutes at the top.

Sculpt This, Not That: If the bar moves out and away from your body, you’ll put unwanted strain on your back. Keep it as close as you can to your thighs, knees and shins throughout to best target your glutes and protect your spine. 

Barbell Hip Thrust
Barbell Hip Thrust

Barbell Hip Thrust

Sit on the floor alongside a flat bench and position your upper back against the edge. Roll a loaded barbell over your legs and up to your hips and hold it steady with both hands. Bend your knees and slide your heels close to your glutes with your feet flat on the floor and spaced shoulder-width apart. Drive through your heels and press your hips up, simultaneously pivoting against the edge of the bench with a straight back, until your head, hips and knees align. Pause briefly and then slowly lower to the start. 

Sculpt This, Not That: Foot position is key to glute activation: If your feet are too close together, you’ll engage your quads rather than your posterior chain. They also should be near enough to your glutes so you can drive straight down into the floor with your heels rather than pushing forward into your toes, which shifts the work into your quads and feet.