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7 Effective Barbell Glute Exercises

Barbell workouts can offer you impressive benefits for many muscles but what are some glute exercises you can do with barbells?

A barbell is a long bar that can hold weight plates. It is one of the most popular types of gym equipment, and for a good reason. Barbells can play a role in many exercises for a wide variety of muscles. They are especially helpful for training your leg muscles which includes your glutes.

The best barbell weight for weighted glute exercises varies from exercise to exercise and individual to individual. If you are not sure which weight would be right for you, you can start with just the bar or no barbell and slowly add weights from there.

Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, your injury risk is generally also higher when you do exercises with more weight/resistance. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.

1. Hip thrusts

Hip thrusts are similar to glute bridges but instead of doing them on the ground, you will need a bench or any other stable object of the right height. To do a hip thrust take the following steps:

  1. Sit right in front of the bench or other object you will use with your back slightly over the edge. Make sure the object is stable. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width in a position where your knees will be at a 90-degree angle in the next step. Hold a barbell on your body at the hip level.
  2. Move up your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  3. Slowly lower your body again.

Hip thrusts isolate your glute, also known as your butt, muscles. Even more so with the extra weight from the barbell.

2. Back squats

Squats are one of the, if not the most, popular leg exercises, and for a good reason. Back squats are the same exercise but with a barbell, possibly with weight plates, on your shoulders. To do a back squat take the following steps:

  1. Find a squat rack and place the barbell at about chest height. Add the desired number of weight plates. If there are any safety bars adjust them to the right height.
  2. Stand under the barbell, push your shoulders up so that the barbell rests on your higher back, and hold it there with your hands.
  3. Unrack the barbell and take a few steps back so that you have room to squat. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
  4. Slowly lower your hips by bending your knees. How far depends on different factors like knee health but at your lowest point you want your hips to be at or lower than your knee height. You will likely have to bend forward for balance but keep your back in a straight line throughout the movement.
  5. Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your legs.
  6. Rerack the barbell after your desired number of repetitions.

Back squats are great for building leg muscles. This includes your glutes. Especially with a heavy barbell they also engage your core muscles.

3. Deadlifts

This next exercise engages glutes, other leg muscles, and back muscles. To do a deadlift with a weighted barbell take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width in front of a weighted barbell.
  2. Slightly fold your knees and tilt your upper body forward to grab the barbell on the ground. Place your hands at about shoulder width.
  3. Stretch your knees and tilt back your upper body at the same time until your upper body and legs are stretched in one straight line. When doing a deadlift it is very important to keep your back in a straight line during the exercise.
  4. Slowly move back into the position of step 2.

Good technique is important in any exercise to avoid injuries but especially so for deadlifts. Before trying to deadlift the heaviest weights it is smart to improve your technique first by starting with light or no weights at all.

If you have trouble making deadlifts challenging enough due to a lack of available weight plates, you can also consider doing the one-legged deadlift.

4. Bulgarian split squats

For this next exercise, you want a step, bench, or any other stable object at about knee height. Once you have that, to do a Bulgarian split squat take the following steps:

  1. Find a squat rack and place the barbell at about chest height. Add the desired number of weight plates. If there are any safety bars adjust them to the right height. Put the stable object at a safe distance behind you but also not too far.
  2. Stand under the barbell, push your shoulders up so that the barbell rests on your higher back, and hold it there with your hands.
  3. Unrack the barbell and take a few steps back. Move one leg back and put the foot of this leg on the object. The top of your foot should lean on the surface of the object.
  4. Slowly lower your hips by bending the knee of your stretched leg until your hip is at about the height of your knee of the previously stretched leg. Use your arms for balance if needed.
  5. Push yourself up again into the position of step 2.
  6. Repeat the same number of repetitions on the leg of the other side to keep your muscle distribution balanced.
  7. Rerack the barbell after your desired number of repetitions.

The Bulgarian split squat looks similar to squats and lunges but because one leg is raised, more weight rests on the other. This makes that Bulgarian split squat potentially a better glute exercise if you do not have a lot of heavy weight plates available.

Keep in mind that you only have half the force available of a regular squat. Adjust the weights accordingly.

5. Good mornings

To do a good morning with a barbell take the following steps:

  1. Find a squat rack and place the barbell at about chest height. Add the desired number of weight plates. If there are any safety bars adjust them to the right height.
  2. Stand under the barbell, push your shoulders up so that the barbell rests on your higher back, and hold it there with your hands.
  3. Unrack the barbell and take a few steps back so that you have room to squat. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
  4. Tilt your upper body forward as far as is comfortable with a good posture (but not farther than a horizontal line). At the same time bend your knees a small amount.
  5. Return to the position in step 3 in a controlled motion.
  6. Rerack the barbell after your desired number of repetitions.

The good morning may look similar to the squat but you go a lot less through your knees. This can be helpful if you have any issues with your knees. The good morning exercise engages your glutes, lower back, core, and hamstrings.

6. Lunges

Lunges are a popular exercise that engages your glutes. Even though its bodyweight form can already be hard enough, you can also do it with the extra resistance from a barbell. To do two walking lunges take the following steps:

  1. Find a squat rack and place the barbell at about chest height. Add the desired number of weight plates. If there are any safety bars adjust them to the right height.
  2. Stand under the barbell, push your shoulders up so that the barbell rests on your higher back, and hold it there with your hands.
  3. Unrack the barbell and move to a location where you have room to do walking lunges.
  4. Take a big step forward so that you get into a position where both of your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Your front foot should be flat on the ground, your back foot should only touch the ground with the ball of the foot (front).
  5. Move your back foot forward and get into the same position as step 2 but with your other foot in the front. Make sure you use your leg muscles and not the momentum of your arms to do this movement.

By adding a barbell you make lunges more challenging for your glutes. In turn, this can lead to faster and more muscle growth.

You can certainly use a barbell but because lunges do involve some balancing at times you generally want to use weights that allow you to balance with your hands. Examples of more convenient equipment to do weighted lunges include dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, a weighted vest, etc.

7. Back extensions

For the next exercise, you will also need a back extension machine. This is a machine with a place you can anchor your legs behind and a pad to lean on with your hips. Once you have that to do a back extension take the following steps:

  1. Place the barbell in front of the back extension machine where your upper body will hang and be able to reach it.
  2. Take place in the hyperextension machine. Make sure you are locked in place safely.
  3. Bend down and pick up the barbell and hold it against your chest.
  4. Move your upper body upwards until your back is in a straight line. Keep your movements slow and controlled throughout the exercise.
  5. When done lower your upper body and place the barbell back onto the ground.

Back extensions engage your lower back and glutes. Since your lower back is a body part with a relatively high injury risk you want to be careful about adding a lot of weight to the exercise.

Make sure your technique is great before using a barbell and pay extra attention to your technique when doing so.