How to target your glutes!

A lot of people who come in to see us ask how to increase the size of their bum as well as shaping up and toning the hip and lower body area in general.

The first thing to think about is how much focus you’re giving your glutes in your workouts and in your week. If you’re not focusing on working the glutes then you won’t make progress as quickly.


We recommend using big compound movements after having engaged the glutes with smaller isolation exercises to ensure that all the muscle fibres are activated. So the question is.. when doing lower body work, do you feel it in your butt? Or do you feel it in your legs? If the answer is that you don’t feel it in your bum muscles then you need to focus on some glute activation work prior to your big lifts. The reason is that if you’re only activating a portion of your muscle mass then you won’t be training the muscle fully and effectively, if you’re activating the entire muscle then there’s more scope to make faster progress due to the training effect.



How do you activate your bum muscles?

Using smaller isolation exercises (single joint and single muscle exercises) will help you engage the entire muscle prior to the big lifts. Focusing on creating the neuromuscular connection (brain telling muscle to contract) will help you feel the exercise in the right place as well as improving the quality of contraction, again, leading to a greater training effect and a more effective workout.



Which exercises can you use to activate the glutes?

Clams work the external rotators of the hip joint, mainly your glutes but also the smaller stabilising muscles you'll need for the workout.



Fire Hydrant

This one is pretty similar to the clam but will focus more on hip abduction to target the upper, outer part of your glutes.


Bird Dog

This is another good exercise to prepare you for your workout by activating the bigger glute maximus muscle which makes up most of your bum muscle.


Glute Bridge

Lastly, the glute bridge will target those bigger glute maximus muscles using your body weight to extend the hip joint from the floor.


We recommend 1 set of each of the above exercises for 15-20 reps to start your lower body workout and get those bum muscles working properly!


So once you’ve done your activation now’s the time to move on to the bigger moves. The idea is that we’ve woken up the entire hip and glute musculature, so now you should be feeling the exercises more in your bum muscles and less in your legs. The other benefit to this is the fact that the glutes are the biggest muscle group in the body so we’re not only building muscle but we’re burning tons of Calories at the same time!


What are the best compound exercises to target your bum muscles?

The best exercises for building and toning your glutes and lower body are big movements like squats and deadlifts.

Kettlebell Staggered Stance Deadlift

The squat is one of the fundamental exercises and should be performed on most of your lower body workouts, increasing the reps, weight or total volume from session to session in order to keep progressing. We should be focussing on a rep range of 10-15 reps with a rest period of 30-60 seconds. This methodology will promote muscular growth in the glutes, especially when fully switched on from the activation exercises. Once you’re finding 15 reps easy (and you’re feeling it in the right places) you can start to add on more weight in order to provide ‘progressive overload’.


The idea here isn’t to load on as much weight as possible, but to use a weight where we find it tough but not so heavy that we can’t focus on the correct working muscles. We also need to nail down the technique of these exercises before we start to load on the weight. Why? So we avoid injury and target the right areas with the right movement pattern.


Squat- keep your weight through the heels and chest upright. Try to sit back in the invisible chair behind you and keep those glutes under tension.


If you're struggling with the squat technique we recommend watching the video below and practising your movement pattern. If you're still stuck.. come and see us!


Next up is the deadlift.. now this exercise is quite a lot to take on board in terms of technique so it's definitely worth taking the time to learn it properly. One of the main things to think about is engaging the glute muscles and driving your hips forward to lift the weight. Check out the technique video below and if you're still struggling with the technique then you know where to come!


Once you’ve done your squats and deadlifts you can move into unilateral work such as split squats or lunges to work more of the glute stabilisers. Try adding the next exercises into your workout.


Split Squat


Reverse Lunge

Finally, you can finish with more isolation exercises like hip thrusts, pull-throughs, and cable kickbacks! Isolation exercises will help you focus on and fully exhaust the glute muscles, giving the best stimulus for muscle building.



As with all the exercises in the lists above, you need to fully focus on contracting your bum muscles through the range of movement. If you're still struggling to feel it in the right place we'd recommend spending more time on activation, especially through a range of movement like in a squat or deadlift to get the maximum benefit.


So now you know all the exercises you need to build and tone your bum, you just need to do the hard bit.. actually doing them!


If you need any extra help with the exercises above, or you need extra motivation and accountability to get a bit more consistent with your training.. don't hesitate to get in touch to book your FIRST PT SESSION FREE!


Just click below to make an enquiry

Our private Personal Training Studio is located on Hove Enterprise Centre, on the Hove end of Shoreham Port. Book in a PT session with one of our Personal Trainers to help you reach your goals quickly, safely and effectively. Our studio has 2 floors, stunning sea views and free parking so you've got no reason not to!


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