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9 Dumbbell Glute Exercises For A Stronger Butt

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

Dumbbells are handles with weights attached to them, they are one of the most popular types of gym equipment, and for a good reason. Dumbbells can play a role in many exercises for a wide variety of muscles. You can even train your glutes with dumbbells.

The best dumbbell 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 light or no dumbbells and slowly build up 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. Lunges

Lunges are a popular exercise that engages your glutes. Even though its bodyweight form can already be hard enough, you can easily add dumbbells to this exercise. To do two walking lunges take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width. Hold one or two dumbbells in your hands.
  2. 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).
  3. 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 dumbbells you make lunges more challenging for your glutes. In turn, this can lead to faster and more muscle growth.

Since lunges do involve some balancing at times you generally want to go for one dumbbell in each hand instead of one dumbbell in two hands. By doing weighted lunges this way you can still move your arms for balance.

2. Donkey kicks

This next exercise is a glute isolation exercise. To do a donkey kick take the following steps:

  1. Start with your face facing the floor with your hands on the ground, your arms stretched, and your knees on the ground. Clamp a dumbbell between the upper leg and calves of the leg that will go up.
  2. Move one foot upward until the upper leg of this side is in 1 line with your body. Keep your knees at 90-degree angles throughout the movement.
  3. Lower this leg back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
  4. Repeat with your other leg.

The theme of this list is dumbbells but if you prefer you can also use other types of resistance like ankle weights, resistance bands, or a medicine ball for donkey kicks to make this a glute exercise with weights.

3. Deadlifts

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

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width in front of one or two dumbbells. You can set them up for a grip angle that is comfortable for you.
  2. Slightly fold your knees and tilt your upper body forward to grab the dumbbell(s) on the ground.
  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.

After that, the deadlift is traditionally an exercise that is done with relatively heavy external weights. You may need two dumbbells to make this exercise challenging enough.

4. 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 dumbbell 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 dumbbell.

5. 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. Stand in front of the stable object with your back towards it. Keep about a leg distance between you and the box. Hold one or two dumbbells in your hands.
  2. Move one leg back and put the foot of this side on the object. The top of your foot should lean on the surface of the object.
  3. 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.
  4. Push yourself up again into the position of step 2.
  5. Repeat the same number of repetitions on the leg of the other side to keep your muscle distribution balanced.

The Bulgarian split squat looks similar to 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 dumbbells available.

6. Clams

Clams are a glute exercise that takes place on the ground. This exercise also engages your outer thigh muscles. To do a clam take the following steps:

  1. Start lying down on your side with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Clamp a dumbbell between the upper leg and calves of the leg that is in the high position.
  2. Raise the knee of the leg that is in the higher position upward until the leg is at about a 45-degree angle with the ground. Keep your feet together during the movement.
  3. Lower this leg back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
  4. Repeat the same number of repetitions with the other leg.

Clams are often done with resistance bands as resistance but you can certainly use dumbbells too to grow your glutes faster.

7. Step-ups

For step-ups you need a stable object or platform strong enough to stand on. The plyo box may be a good option depending on how much pressure you want to put on it. Something like a concrete platform works too. Once you have a suited object or platform, to do two step-ups take the following steps:

  1. Stand upright in front of the object facing toward it with your feet at shoulder-width. Hold one or two dumbbells in your hands.
  2. Raise one foot and put it on the surface of the object. Make sure your sole is entirely on the surface.
  3. Raise your body by exerting pressure with the leg of the foot that is on the object.
  4. Put your second foot next to the other one.
  5. Step down with the first foot.
  6. Step down with the second foot.
  7. Do a repetition with the other foot first.

Similar to lunges you preferably want to do weighted step-ups with two dumbbells so you can use your hands for extra balance.

Step-ups mainly strengthen your glutes and quadriceps (upper front leg) muscles.

8. Fire hydrants

To do a fire hydrant take the following steps:

  1. Start with your face facing the floor with your hands on the ground, your arms stretched, and your knees on the ground. Clamp a dumbbell between the upper leg and calves of the leg that will go up.
  2. Move one leg sideways until your upper leg is at about a 45-degree angle with the other upper leg. Keep your knees at about 90-degree angles during the movement.
  3. Lower this leg back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
  4. Repeat with your other leg.

Fire hydrants target your outer thigh and glute muscles. Even more so with the added resistance from the dumbbell.

9. Squats

Squats are one of the, if not the most, popular leg exercises, and for a good reason. They are great for building leg muscles. This includes your glutes. To do a squat take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width. Hold one or two dumbbells in your hands.
  2. 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.
  3. Push yourself up again into starting position by stretching your legs.

To make squats challenging enough to get in a good glute workout you likely want to use relatively heavy dumbbells. The most convenient way to do squats with heavy dumbbells is by holding one dumbbell in each hand and letting your arms hang down beside your body.