How to Strengthen Your Glute Muscles With These 5 Exercises

Learn the best glute strengthening exercises to try at home, according to physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 14, 2024
Table of Contents

Your glutes, a group of muscles running from your low back to the outside of your upper thighs, play an important role in supporting healthy movement throughout your day. You’ve probably heard of the gluteus maximus, the largest glute muscle, which helps with hip extension (that is, putting your leg behind your body). Two smaller muscles, your gluteus medius and minimus, help with hip flexion, or putting your leg in front of your body. Together, these muscles also support your lower back.

Strong glutes can effectively support your joints, making everyday movements easier to perform along with stabilizing your body to reduce injuries when you exercise, play sports, or go about your daily activities. “Routine exercise is an important way to build and maintain strength, and a physical therapy regimen can help you target these crucial muscles,” says Sarah Kellen, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hinge Health. 

In this article, learn more about why glute muscles are so important, along with how to keep yours strong — especially with exercises recommended by our Hinge Health physical therapists. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Sarah Kellen, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Dr. Kellen is a Hinge Health Physical Therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist. She has a special interest in pregnancy and postpartum care.
Jonathan Lee, MD, MBA
Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Lee is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and an Associate Medical Director at Hinge Health.
Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

Best Exercises for Glutes

To strengthen your glutes, Dr. Kellen suggests doing exercises that activate all three of your glute muscles. Some glute-strengthening exercises can also promote flexibility and balance, which could make it easier to perform everyday activities while reducing pain you may be experiencing in your hips, low back, or even your knees. The exercises below are recommended by Hinge Health physical therapists and are a great place to start. 

Tap into pain relief. Anytime, anywhere with our app.

Get exercises from a licensed physical therapist and more to relieve your pain. All right from your phone. At $0 cost to you.
Start your app tour

1. Squat

1. Squat

A standard squat targets all three glute muscles with one movement, so Dr. Kellen recommends it as a staple exercise for glute strengthening. “You could easily modify it to decrease the range if you feel sensitive, such as holding on to a table or doing a mini squat,” she says. “As it gets easier, you can move into more advanced variations,” such as a deep squat

How to Do It: 

  • Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart. 

  • Keeping most of your weight in your heels, reach your hips back while bending your knees, as if you were sitting in a chair. 

  • Hold this position while you focus on squeezing your thigh and hip muscles. 

  • Push through your feet to straighten your knees and return to a standing position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your thigh, butt, and hip muscles working.

2. Split Squat

2. Split Squat

While a standard squat involves squatting down on both legs, a split squat activates one side of the body at a time, which Dr. Kellen says causes your gluteus maximus to work harder. “I also like it because it challenges your balance,” she adds.

How to Do It: 

  • Start by taking a big step forward with one foot and allow your back heel to rise up off the floor. 

  • While maintaining a split stance, bend both knees to lower your back knee toward the floor. Your front knee should be positioned over your ankle. 

  • Focus on your balance as you hold this position.  

  • Push through both feet and straighten both legs to return to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you may feel your thigh, leg, and hip muscles working. 

3. Single-Leg RDL

3. Single-Leg RDL

This exercise builds glute strength and also challenges your balance, so it can be helpful for people who play sports or like to lift weights. As a bonus, Dr. Kellen says the single-leg Romanian deadlift (RDL) builds strength in your hips and hamstrings.

How to Do It: 

  • Stand with your feet a comfortable distance apart. 

  • Move your chest toward the floor by hinging at your hips. 

  • Lift one leg off the floor behind you and up toward the ceiling. Your knee can be slightly bent as you hinge. 

  • Focus your eyes on a spot on the floor to help with balance as you hold this position.

  • Slowly return to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you may feel your hip and leg muscles working. 

4. Single-Leg Hip Thrust

4. Single-Leg Hip Thrust

Dr. Kellen often recommends this advanced glute exercise to improve muscle imbalances in the glutes and support higher-level activities like running, hiking, or playing sports. Muscle imbalances can also sometimes contribute to discomfort, so this exercise is a good one for anyone experiencing hip pain

How to Do It: 

  • Lean your back against a steady couch with the bottom of your shoulder blades resting near the top of the couch cushion. 

  • Your knees should be bent with one foot flat on the floor and your other leg lifted off the floor. 

  • Push through one foot to lift your hips off the floor. 

  • Focus on keeping your hips raised at the height of your shoulders. 

  • Lower your butt down to the floor. 

  • As you do each rep, you may feel your butt, hip, thigh, and hamstring muscles working.  

5. Side Lunge

5. Side Lunge

“The side lunge helps stabilize the hips and knees,” says Dr. Kellen. By strengthening your glutes in a lateral movement, side lunges can make it easier to move side to side, whether you’re playing sports or putting away dishes. 

How to Do It: 

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. 

  • Shift your weight to one of your legs and bend into that knee as you keep your opposite leg straight. 

  • Hold this position. 

  • Push through your foot to straighten your knee and come back to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you should feel your thigh, hip, and butt, muscles working.  

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

The Benefits of Glute Exercises

Glute workouts don’t just tone your butt — they can go a long way in empowering you to move in all the ways that are important to your everyday life. Strong glutes help support your low back, hips, and even your knees and ankles, contributing to better lower body stability (and thus reducing your chances of injury). “If you run or play sports, stronger glutes will help stabilize your body from the top down,” says Dr. Kellen. 

Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete, glute strength is important for overall health. Strength training, in general, helps promote better muscle mass. “With aging we might see lower bone density around the femur and femoral neck, and strengthening muscles in that area can help support bone health,” says Dr. Kellen. Strengthening your glute muscles can also help improve symptoms of low back or hip arthritis by providing additional support to your joints. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

“The Hinge Health exercises have helped me before and after workouts, and I can say that my hip pain has improved by at least 90%,” a Hinge Health member shared with us recently. “Before, even just lifting my leg to get in the shower was a struggle and I would have to deal with the hip pain but not so much anymore. Building muscle in the glute area has made a big difference for my hip strength.” 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

$0 Cost to you

Looking for pain relief? Check if your employer or health plan covers our program

Join more than 800K members and over 1,700 companies that trust Hinge Health to get relief.


  1. Boren, K., Conrey, C., Le Coguic, J., Paprocki, L., Voight, M., & Robinson, T. K. (2011). Electromyographic analysis of gluteus medius and gluteus maximus during rehabilitation exercises. International journal of sports physical therapy, 6(3), 206–223. 

  2. Neto, W. K., Soares, E. G., Vieira, T. L., Aguiar, R., Chola, T. A., Sampaio, V. L., & Gama, E. F. (2020). Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. Journal of sports science & medicine, 19(1), 195–203. 

  3. Porter, J. L., & Varacallo, M. (2023). Osteoporosis. StatPearls Publishing.

  4. Rouhin, S., & Hurley, J. A. (2023). Osteoarthritis. StatPearls Publishing.