best glute isolation exercises

Best Glute Isolation And Strengthening Exercises To Build A Bigger Butt

by Jeremy Campbell - Last Updated April 23, 2019

If you’re following a workout regiment centered around big compound movements like the bench press, squat, and deadlift and think they are all you need for solid muscle hypertrophy, you are sadly mistaken.

To build the most muscle possible, you need to make sure you’re adding in some isolation exercises to your workouts! In particular, if you are looking to build a bigger butt, you should be working some glute isolation exercises into the mix.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle you have in your body. It’ll pay dividends to put some focus on strengthening and growing this muscle! In this article, we are going to go over some of the best glute isolation exercises you can add to your workout to get results.

Best Weighted Glute Isolation And Strengthening Exercises

Woman in front of a barbell

To really add mass to the glutes, you want to focus on isolation exercises where you can add on extra weight. Bodyweight exercises work okay for a while, but soon you’ll hit a wall.

Below are the 5 best-weighted glute isolation and strengthening exercises.

Barbell Hip Thrust

Per “The Glute Guy” himself Bret Contreras, the barbell hip thrust is the single best exercise to put on size and strengthen the glutes. The barbell hip thrust indirectly works other muscles, including the quads, hamstrings, and calves, but the glutes are the main movers in this exercise.

This exercise is great because you can really pile the weight on. Add a few sets of these, once or twice a week, to your routine and you’ll be seeing results in no time!

How to Do the Barbell Hip Thrust

  1. Start in a seated position on the ground in front of a bench, with a loaded barbell centered over your legs. Once you start adding more weight, you’re going to want to use a pad between you and the bar.
  2. Roll the bar into position so that it is right above your hips. Lean back into the bench so your shoulder blades are right at the top of it.
  3. To begin the lift, push through your feet, extending your hips away from the ground. The weight should come up off the floor on your hips, and your weight should be evenly supported by your feet and shoulder blades. Push up as far as you can, and then hold it at the top for a second or two.
  4. In a controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the bottom.

Barbell Glute Bridge

Another great glute isolation exercise to add to the mix is the barbell glute bridge.

At first glance, this may look similar to the hip thrust, and it is, but it has the added advantage of time under tension.

When you hold a weighted bridge for any length of time, you’ll know why this exercise is on this list! This is a great exercise to really target and focus on activating the glutes.

I recommend following Barbell Hip Thrust with some lighter sets of these, to really get a good glute workout in.

How to Do a Barbell Glute Bridge

  1. Start in a seated position on the ground in front of a bench, with a loaded barbell centered over your legs. Once you start adding more weight, you’re going to want to use a pad of some sort between you and the bar.
  2. Roll the bar into position so that it is right above your hips. Lean back into the bench so your shoulder blades are right at the top of it.
  3. To begin the lift, push through your feet, extending your hips away from the ground. The weight should come up off the floor on your hips, and your weight should be evenly supported by your feet and shoulder blades. Push up as far as you can, and then hold it at the top for 10, 20, 30 seconds. However long you can, really!
  4. In a controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the bottom.

One-Legged Cable Kickback

If you’re looking to really isolate the glutes, one-legged cable kickbacks are a great exercise.

Using a cable machine, or even a resistance band, makes it difficult to cheat with this exercise. The cable kickback is an excellent glute builder that hits all the different muscle fibers of the glutes.

How to Do a Cable Kickback

  1. Attach an ankle cuff to a low cable pulley and then attach it to your ankle.
  2. Facing the cable machine from around two feet away, grab hold of the frame to support yourself.
  3. Keeping your abs contracted, and your hips and knees slightly bent, contract your glutes to slowly push your leg back in a semicircle, as far as you can without pain. Hold for a second or two as your squeeze your glutes.
  4. Slowly, in a controlled manner, bring your leg back to the starting position, being sure to resist the pull of the cable all the way to the bottom.
  5. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
  6. Switch to the other leg and then repeat steps 1 through 5.

Kneeling Squat

Per Bret Contreras, the kneeling squat is the single best squat variation for glute isolation. Having the involvement of your hips minimized during these make your glutes work overtime!

Due to the added stress and weight applied to your knees, it is best to limit your use of this exercise to only a few lighters sets, once or twice a week.

I recommend using these as a light finisher. Using high reps with low weight, you can really get a good burn going before ending your workout!

How to Perform a Kneeling Squat

  1. Set the barbell at shoulder height while kneeling in front of a power rack.
  2. On top of a mat, kneel behind the bar. Position yourself under the bar and rack it across your shoulders, as you would on a back squat. Make sure your shoulder blades are retracted and that the bar is tightly and evenly resting on your back. Unrack the bar.
  3. Keep your head looking straight ahead and then sit back until your butt touches your calves.
  4. Reverse the motion back to the starting position.

Kettlebell Swing

Last, but not least, on the list of weighted exercises to work and isolate the glutes is the kettlebell swing. This exercise works your whole body, but especially the glutes.

Aside from being an excellent glute strengthening exercise, the kettlebell swing is a great way to learn and train the hip hinge movement pattern. Working this movement pattern will pay dividends on your deadlift progress.

How to Perform a Kettlebell Swing

  1. Place a kettlebell between your feet.
  2. Starting with your butt, push back, and then bend your knees slightly to get down to the starting position.
  3. Looking straight ahead, and ensuring your back is flat, swing the kettlebell forward between your legs.
  4. Reverse the swinging motion at the top, driving down with your hips. Allow the kettlebell to swing back between your legs before starting the movement again.

Best Bodyweight Glute Isolation Exercises

bodyweight glute isolation exercises

Although weighted exercises really are the fastest way to build stronger and bigger glutes, bodyweight glute isolation exercises still have a place in your routine.

Below are the 5 best bodyweight glute isolation exercises.

Bodyweight Hip Thrust

The bodyweight hip thrust is the same movement like the barbell hip thrust, sans barbell.

If you’re away from the gym, or simply feel like throwing some bodyweight glute isolation exercises into the mix, the hip thrust is a great addition to any program.

How to Perform a Bodyweight Hip Thrust

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and hands to your sides. Position your feet at around shoulder width distance apart.
  2. Pushing with your heels, lift your hips up while maintaining a straight back. Hold the top position for a second or two.
  3. In a controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the bottom.

Bodyweight Glute Bridge

Think of this exercise like a plank, but for your butt! This exercise is a great way to isolate and really work the glutes when equipment is limited.

How to Perform a Bodyweight Glute Bridge

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and hands to your sides. Position your feet at around shoulder width distance apart.
  2. Pushing with your heels, lift your hips up while maintaining a straight back. Hold the top position for as long as you can.
  3. In a controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the bottom.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

For a more difficult spin on the last recommendation, the single leg glute bridge is a great unilateral glute isolation exercise to add to your glute building routine.

Unilateral exercises are a great way to really isolate muscles. And when it comes to working the lower body these are shamefully underutilized.

It’s not uncommon to have muscle imbalances, where one side is stronger than the other, and so these are great to even out those troublesome areas!

How to Perform the Single Leg Glute Bridge

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and hands to your sides. Position your feet at around shoulder width distance apart.
  2. Lift one of your legs off the ground and pull your knee towards your chest.
  3. Pushing with your heel, lift your hips up while maintaining a straight back. Hold the top position for as long as you can.
  4. In a controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the bottom.

Step-Up With Knee Raise

A curb or set of stairs is all you need if you want to add this great glute isolation exercise your routine! These really work the quads well, but also are a great exercise to isolate and strengthen the glutes.

The step-up is a great entry point into unilateral work, as it is less demanding than others to start, so if single leg glute bridges are proving to be too difficult, give these a shot.

How to Perform a Step-Up With Knee Raise

  1. Stand in front of a box, step, or curb with your feet together.
  2. Step up, placing one foot on top of the raised surface. Pushing through the hip and knee, lift your other leg up and bring your knee up as high as you can.
  3. In a controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the bottom.
  4. Repeat the movement with the opposite side.

Glute Kickback

The final glute isolation exercise we have for you today is the glute kickback. The glute kickback is not only an amazing unilateral glute isolation exercise, but it also works your hips and hamstrings as well!

It’s easy to cheat with this exercise, so make sure you take it slow, and on the down portion of the movement, maintain control. This will ensure you keep the focus on the glutes.

How to Perform a Glute Kickback

  1. On a mat, kneel on the floor and bend at your waist. Extend your arms out in front of you so that they are perpendicular with your torso. Keep your head looking forward with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Lift up one of your legs until the back of your leg is lined up with your back, while ensuring your knee remains bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for a second or two.
  3. In a controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the bottom.
  4. Repeat for as many reps as necessary, alternating legs each time.

Conclusion

Imbued with new glute building knowledge, you are well on your way to a bigger and stronger butt. Add a few of these glute isolation exercises to your workout routine, and you’ll begin to see results in no time!

As with any new exercises, make sure you start light and slow, and focus on the mind muscle connection. Doing this will guarantee you’re getting the most out of the movement and will keep you free of injuries.

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