activate your glutes workouts exercise

6 Best Exercises to Activate Your Glutes

These workouts will put the 'you' back in glutes

Exercises that activate the glutes help to strengthen the lower body and support movement in daily life.

More precisely, the muscles we call glutes (gluteal muscles) include three different muscles. 

One is the Gluteus Maximus, which makes up a bigger percentage of the butt as it is the biggest muscle. Then there are the Gluteus medius and Gluteus minimus

glutes muscle types

Studies show that exercises that directly activate the glutes by nature have:

  • external load
  • movement velocity
  • level of fatigue
  • the need for joint stabilization

In this post, we’ll go over some of the main exercises and how they help to activate the glute.

Below is the ranking of Gluteus maximus exercises with very high average activation:

Source: Journal of Sports Science & Medicine

Let’s dive in.

1. Step-up

This is one of the best exercises to activate the glutes.

Whether it’s diagonal, lateral, or cross-over, performing step-ups involves extending the hip joint and controlling the femur adduction at the same time.

This combination elicits the highest form of glute activation.

In this specific workout, you’ll need a form of weight like dumbbells and a raised platform or surface area. For example a bench, staircase, or steady sofa.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Place your left foot on the raised platform as you carry your dumbbells in each hand.
  • Move your body up such that you make an angle slightly above ninety degrees with your left knee.
  • Maintain the position for a while.
  • Put your right foot back on the ground and do the procedure again.
  • Switch sides and repeat the procedure.

2. Dumbbell deadlift 


Deadlifts are one of the bilateral exercises that have high glute activation.

In a dumbbell deadlift, for example, the exercise places demands on your gluteus maximus, core, quadriceps, and hamstrings. 

Related: 7 Easy Dumbbell Exercises That Work Your Core

This activation enables your glutes to get stronger.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand straight up as you separate your legs a few inches apart.
  • Place your hands in front of your hips while you hold a dumbbell in each hand. Curve your knees outward.
  • Maintain a straight back as you hinge your hips in front and curve your knees as you push out your butt.
  • Lower the dumbbells in the direction of the floor. At the same time keep your torso maintains a parallel position to the ground.
  • Straighten up as you stand up to get back to your premier position. Remember to have the dumbbells near to your shins as you do this.
  • Wait for a few seconds and squeeze your glutes.
  • Repeat the same process for a few minutes.

3. Single leg hip thrust 

Researchers in the UK investigated how different exercises help to activate the Gluteus Maximus (GMax).

The findings showed that a barbell hip thrust resulted in a higher mean GMax activation than back and split squat. 

Single leg hip thrust is a tougher version of hip thrust and provides better results. 

The process is the same as a hip thrust. But you’ll need to raise a leg along with your hips while keeping one leg on the ground.


4. Deep squats

Squats engage several muscles across the body. 

Squats are load-bearing exercises that require high periods of joint stabilization.

Not only does this help to activate the glutes, but also it strengthens your core muscles and bones.

A deep squat is just like squats but feet little wider than the shoulder, and you need to go as deep as possible.

5. Walking dumbbell lunge

The walking dumbbell lunge focuses on your quads, glutes, and hamstring

Here’s how to do it:

  • As you begin, use light dumbbells on each side.
  • Stand with your feet a few inches apart and hold your dumbbells in your hands while they rest on the sides of your hips.
  • Let out your left leg to create a lunge and let your back remain straight while you keep your torso upright as you do your lunge.
  • Allow your left knee to be directly above the left ankle.
  • Let your right knee linger slightly above the ground.
  • Move forward by stepping on your right foot and repeat the steps using the right foot.
  • Repeat the procedure for a few minutes.

6. Reverse lunge

This dumbbell exercise for glutes targets the gluteus maximus. It also works your core and quadriceps. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand in an upright position as you hold your weights in your hands. Your palms should point inside as you put your arms on the sides of your hips.
  • Move your left foot two steps backward and rest on its ball while you don’t let the heel touch the ground.
  • Make right-angle degrees with your knees by curving them both.
  • Keep a straight back as well as your other body parts. Remember to closely involve your butt and core.
  • Get back to the standing position and redo the whole process again.
  • Change sides and redo all the steps.


Part of how these exercises activate the glutes has to do with the level of fatigue. So when doing any of these exercises, develop a type of circuit routine that works for you.

You can also add these to interval training. This way, at various points, the exercises produce the highest form of fatigue.