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10 Effective Glute Exercises With Weights

Weighted workouts can offer you impressive benefits for many muscles but what are some glute exercises you can do with extra weights?

The way you build muscle in places like your glutes is by engaging these muscles so that they get damaged enough. This may sound counterintuitive but this damaging makes it so your body repairs these muscles, and adds a bit more to be better prepared to exert similar efforts in the future.

By adding weights to exercises you are better able to damage the muscles in a shorter amount of time. If you don’t overdo it, give your body enough nutrients, and give your muscles enough rest this can in turn lead to faster and more glute muscle gain.

The best weight, both quantity and in what form, for glute exercises varies from exercise to exercise and individual to individual. If you are not sure how much weight would be right for you, you can start with light or no weights and slowly build up from there. For each exercise there will be recommended types of weight to add.

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 weights 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 the external weights in your hands, on your shoulders, or on your body.
  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.

You can do weighted lunges by carrying free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates, etc. in your hands. Since lunges do involve some balancing at times you generally want to avoid a single weight you have to hold with 2 hands.

Other weights like a barbell, a medicine ball, a weighted vest, etc. can also be used to make lunges more challenging for your butt muscles.

2. 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 weight 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 added weights.

Most people use a barbell to make hip thrusts weighted but you can also use other weights like a dumbbell, a medicine ball, a sandbag, etc. You could also anchor a resistance band to the ground and make hip thrusts more challenging this way but this can be slightly harder to implement.

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.
  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.

The barbell is the most popular way to add resistance to deadlifts. You can also use other free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, etc. Another option is a resistance band.

4. Glute kickbacks

For glute kickbacks, you will preferably need a cable machine or resistance bands. Ankle weights can work too. To do a glute kickback with a cable machine take the following steps:

  1. Set the cable grip at a setting close to the ground.
  2. Stand with your face toward the cable machine and strap on the ankle band. You can hold the cable machine during the exercise for balance.
  3. Lean forward to about a 45-degree angle to a vertical line.
  4. Move the foot with the strap back and with your knee slightly bent until your leg is stretched at an angle somewhat more vertical than just a horizontal line.
  5. Return your foot to starting position in a controlled motion.

As the name implies, glute kickbacks mainly focus on your glute muscles.

A big benefit of doing glute kickbacks with the cable machine is that it is really easy to adjust the weight.

5. 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 the external weights in your hands, on your shoulders, or on your body.
  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 do weighted step-ups with equipment that still allows you to use your hands for extra balance.

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

6. Donkey kicks

This next exercise is another 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. Add resistance to the leg that will move 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.

Ankle weights are generally the most convenient way to add weight to the donkey kick exercise. You can also hold a dumbbell or medicine ball with the leg that goes upward. Another way you can add resistance is with the help of a resistance band.

7. 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 the external weights in your hands, on your shoulders, or on your body.
  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.

A barbell is generally the most popular way to make squats weighted but you can also use other free weights, a weighted vest, and resistance bands.

8. Lying lateral leg raises

For the lying lateral leg raise and any other glute exercises that take place on the floor, it can be helpful to invest in something like a yoga mat if you have no other soft surface to do the exercise on. To do a lying lateral leg raise take the following steps:

  1. Start lying down on your side with your body in more or less one straight line, adjust for stability.
  2. Raise one leg upward until it is at about a 45-degree angle with the ground. Keep the foot of this leg pointing horizontally.
  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.

Lying leg raises can be a challenge to add extra weight to. You are basically limited to using ankle weights and resistance bands. The benefit of this limited list of equipment does mean that lying lateral leg raises are likely one of the glute exercises you can do at home.

9. Bird dogs

To do a bird dog 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.
  2. Stretch one leg and raise it until it is in a straight line with your body. At the same time stretch the arm of the opposite side and raise it until it is in a straight line with your body. So if you choose your right leg, raise your left arm at the same time.
  3. Lower the raised leg and raised arm again in a controlled motion to starting position.
  4. Repeat with your other leg and other arm.

The bird dog exercise is an exercise that engages a wide variety of muscles including your glutes.

For more glute muscle gain you want to add resistance to your leg movement. You can do this with the help of resistance bands and ankle weights.

10. 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.
  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.

Similar to lunges and squats you can use most of the classic ways to add resistance to make Bulgarian split squats weighted.

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 external weights available.