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What are Glutes?

Muscles, along with fat, make up the main bulk and shape of the buttocks. There are many muscles in the buttocks region, but the main ones that contribute to the shape of the buttocks are;

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus

Muscle can be trained through exercise to become bigger. Since the superficial gluteal muscles are close to the outer layer of skin, changes in the size of these muscles will be visible beneath the skin.

Gluteal muscles

Gluteus Maximus

The largest muscle in your body, and arguably the most powerful, the Gluteus Maximus makes up most of the muscle bulk in your backside.

Training this muscle will do wonders for the way your butt looks. Stronger muscles naturally have to be larger, and a larger Gluteus Maximus will give you a rounder and more shapely butt. A well-toned Gluteus Maximus also prevents a saggy butt!

The Gluteus Maximus is responsible for extension of the hip in a backwards manner – think swinging your leg back behind your torso, as in Banded Leg Kickbacks, Donkey Kicks, or even when walking (though inactive glutes in many people cause other muscles to take over this motion). Gluteus Maximus activation also occurs strongly during moves like Squats, Deadlifts, and Hip Thrusts/Glute Bridges.

Gluteus Medius

The Gluteus Medius muscle sits as a deeper layer of muscle beneath the Gluteus Maximus and is also sometimes referred to as your upper glutes.

Gluteus Medius is responsible for abduction and rotation of the hip. What does this mean? Abduction occurs when you move your leg out sideways away from your body – in Banded Side-to-Sides, for example. Lateral rotation (towards the outside of the body) of the thigh uses Gluteus Medius and you can feel this by trying a few Clamshell exercises.

Training the upper glutes can help to balance out butt shape and round out the overall buttocks appearance.

Gluteus Minimus

The Gluteus Minimus is the smallest of the three gluteal muscles, but it still plays an important role in the appearance of the butt. It is located even deeper and directly beneath the Gluteus Medius

The Gluteus Minimus largely works together with the Gluteus Medius to perform abduction of the leg. It also is responsible for medial rotation (towards the body center line) of the thigh.

Best Exercises for Glutes without using Weights


Squats are probably the most popular and effective exercise for growing your glutes.  The closer you get to squatting at 90 degrees, the more glute activation you will have.  As you are pushing up, make sure to push through your heel for more glute activation.  In fact, with most lower body exercises, pushing through the heel will guarantee higher glute activation             . squat for bigger glutes

Make sure to keep your head and chest up and sit back on your heels as if your are about to sit in a chair.  Squat as low as you can to 90 degrees, point toes slightly outwards, legs shoulder width apart and push up through your heels.  Do not lock your legs out at the top.

There are multiple variations for squats.  For example, a Sumo Squat, legs out wide in a plie position with toes pointed outward, will lower and outer glutes.  Again, do not lock legs out at the top.

Close Leg Squats with feet almost touching, toes pointed forward, will engage the upper glute area.  To make it a little more challenging, you can also use a resistance band



While performing lunges, you can do these either stationary or walking lunges.  The 2 key points to performing lunges correctly are to not allow your front knee to bend past your toes.  You want the front leg to be as close to a 90 degree angle as possible.  The second important key is to push up through the heel.

Lunges for bigger glutes

To make lunges more challenging, you can kick your back leg up as you are pushing up to add a little more glute activation.  You can also use a resistance band to make it more challenging.  Lunges are a great glute workout at home that is easy to perform and requires no weights.

Glute Bridges/Hip Thrusts

Glute Bridges or Hip Thrusts are another excellent glute workout at home that will definitely round out your butt.  Lie on your back, knees bent and push your pelvis up toward the ceiling, focusing on pushing through your heels.  Squeeze the buttocks through the entire movement, hold at the top for a couple seconds and lower back down but don’t touch the ground.  This will keep your glutes activated and on fire, feeling the burn.

hip thrust for glutes

This picture shows the use of a resistance band to make this exercise a little more challenging.

Banded side-to-sides

To perform this exercise, you will need a band to place either, around your ankles or around your legs just above the knees.  You can this type of band here

With your knees slightly bent, you will lunge side to side as far as you can.  This will activate the upper, outer glute area and you will definitely feel the burn.  You can add small variations like kicking you leg out to the side or kicking it back behind you to hit different areas of the glutes.

Banded side step for glutes

Donkey Kicks

Donkey Kicks are done on your hands and knees.  You will kick one leg up to the sky.  There are a couple of variations.  You can keep your leg straight and lift it to the sky.  Or you can bend it and focus on pushing your heel up to the sky.  These will hit all 3 of the glute muscles with these variations.

Donkey kick for glutes

Fire Hydrants

These are also performed on your hands and knees.  But instead of kicking a leg back or up, you will kick it out to the side.  Again, this can be performed using a straight leg or bending it at a 90 degree angle and lifting it out to the side.  Make sure to keep your back straight and you hips parallel to the ground.  You don’t want to twist the waist or hips, just merely use your glutes to lift your leg.

Again, these will definitely make you feel the burn and activate the outer glute area.

fire hydrant exercise for glutes

The glutes are a very large, dense muscle group that requires consistency, time and resistance if you have that ability.  These 6 glute exercises without weight can be performed at home and help you achieve that more shapely and rounder butt that looks great in a pair of tight jeans lol