The glutes are one of the most overlooked muscle groups in the body when working out, and are actually one of the most important. They influence your pelvic control, running propulsion, and single-limb stance support.
Having strong glutes also helps support your back when performing lifting motions. They can also help prevent knee injuries while running or doing lifting exercises. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide for the best squats for glutes that you can do to tone your upper legs and glutes.
Before You Start
There are a couple of things to note before you start working on your butt. For instance, there are different squat variations that do different things.
This means that you will be able to find the right squat that works for you. Although every squat is considered a lower-body exercise, the different variations target your muscles in different ways.
When your legs are parted, you will work on your glutes and inner thighs slightly more than your quads. If the squat variation involves upper body movement, you will be exercising your arms and shoulders as well.
Unlock Your Glutes is a great guide for working on your glutes while also targeting other muscles in the body. The method works by ‘waking up’ your dormant glutes and priming them to be strengthened. It is definitely a great method to consider if you are having trouble toning your glutes.
Squats To Try During Your Next Workout
Keep in mind that you should probably avoid trying all of these at once. Consider your goals, and then determine which of these squat variations suits you best.
This squat targets your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, and core.
- Start by standing with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, with your toes turned outwards slightly.
- Then, with your hands in front of your chest, engage your core, and keep your back as flat as possible. Shift your weight onto your heels, push your hips backward, and bend into a low squat.
- Next, jump as high as possible, while swinging your arms down to your sides for momentum. Make sure that you are keeping your chest lifted and your back straight.
- For one rep, land with soft knees.
Perhaps the most common squat variation, this exercise targets your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, and core.
- Start with your hips just over hip-width apart.
- Turn your toes out slightly, and put your arms at your sides with your palms facing inwards. Keep your chest up and engage your core while keeping your back flat.
- Shift your weights to your heels, push your hips back, and bend your knees into a low squat. Bend your elbows and place your palms together in front of your chest.
- Stand up by driving through your heels and squeeze your glutes at the top of each rep.
This works your glutes, and your inner thighs a little more than a regular squat. This variation works on your gluteus maximus, inner thighs, quadriceps, core, and hamstrings.
- For this squatting position, your legs should be wider, and your toes turned further outwards.
- Start with your feet apart wider than your shoulder width, with your arms at your sides, and your toes turned out. Keep your palms in, and your chest lifted as you engage your core and shift your weight onto your heels.
- Keep your back flat and push your hips backward, bending your knees into a low squat. Place your palms together at the front of your chest and bend your elbows. Use your heels to stand and squeeze your glutes at the top of each rep.
This variation works on the gluteus maximus, inner thighs, quadriceps, core, and hamstrings.
- For this exercise, start with your feet together, clasping your hands in front of your chest. Jump and separate your feet until they are a little wider than your shoulder width.
- Use your core to shift your weight onto your heels, making sure that your back and chest is flat and lifted. Push your hips back, bending your knees into a low squat. Use your heels to stand and jump and place your feet back together.
Again, we recommend checking out the Unlock Your Glutes website for some of the most comprehensive glute exercises out there. The great thing about this site and the exercises we mentioned above is that they do not require any equipment.
Additional Exercises to Strengthen Your Glutes
While squatting is the most effective way of strengthening and toning your glutes, it is not the only way. There are many other exercises that can be just as rewarding, and sometimes even fun. Here are a few:
This is an excellent stretch to do before your other glute workouts, or before a run, as it encourages glute activation. Start in a standing position, then take a large step forward with one leg. Then bend that knee so that your leg forms a right angle, and have your other knee on the ground. Keep your knee above your ankle and hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Single-Leg Stance Test
Start by standing with your hands above your head, facing your palms inward. Lift a foot up and balance with the other.
See if your other hip dips down — if it does, your glutes are weak. Try again on the other side. Then, in the same position, lean to the left, and see if your right hip lowers.
Then, do the same for the other side. If your hips lower, it is another sign of weak glutes. Try this test after running to see how your glutes perform when you are fatigued.
This is a fairly common glute exercise, and you’ve probably seen someone doing it in the gym. Stand with one of your legs on a bench, box, or step that is at least 4 inches high. Your other leg should be hanging off the edge.
Keep both of your hips and shoulders levels, and place your hands on your hips for balance and visual aid. Keep the leg on the box straight and raise your hip straight up, using your core and hip to lower your other foot.
Return to your first position and start over slowly and controlled.