According to Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare, "Some of the traditional glute exercises include a variation of squats and lunges - moves that really isolate and target the glute muscles."
Get to know your glutes
There are three muscles that support the hips and legs in standing, walking, running and other activities - the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
- The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three muscles, spanning from the outer hip to the base of the spine. It helps extend the thigh and open out the hip when lifting the leg to stand, run or climb.
- The gluteus medius sits partially underneath and to the outside of the maximus, and the minimus sits immediately beneath the gluteus medius.
- The gluteus medius and minimus work together to balance the work of the gluteus maximus and support the movement of the hips, pelvis, spine, legs and knees.
3 thigh exercises to strengthen the glutes
Not everybody knows that incorporating thigh exercises into your workout routine is also a very important aspect of glute development. "Basically, our thigh muscles are largely responsible for moving the leg at the knee but they also affect hip movement," says Hays. "Because of how hamstrings and adductor muscles connect to the pelvis, our thighs play an important role in developing strong, tight glutes."
When your adductor and hamstring muscles are weak or tight, the gluteus muscles can become restricted and do not function properly. If you are looking to maximize your glute development, be sure to include exercises that firm and strengthen the hamstrings and adductors.
Hays shares three thigh muscle exercises to strengthen your glutes. For the best results, do the exercises below about two to three times per week.
1. Hip raises
This exercise targets the muscles of your glutes and your hamstrings. It also activates your abdominal and lower back muscles.
- On a mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Squeeze your glutes as you lift your hips.
- Pause for 3 to 5 seconds in the top position.
- Lower your body back to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 to 12 times, completing 2 to 3 sets. If your hamstrings cramp during this exercise, it means that your glutes are weak and this area needs to work extra hard to keep your hips raised for 3 to 5 seconds. Do this exercise twice a week to strengthen your glute muscles.
Deadlifts are great for targeting the muscles of your hamstrings and glutes. It also helps improve the flexibility of your hamstrings because they stretch these muscles every time you lower your weight.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them in front of your thighs at arm's length.
- Brace your core.
- Keeping your knees slightly bent, hinge at your hips and lower your torso until it is almost parallel to the floor.
- Pause, and then raise your torso back to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 to 12 times, completing 2 to 3 sets.
This exercise strengthens your hips and thighs, while also stabilizing your pelvic muscles and your glutes.
- On the floor or a mat, lie on your left side with your hips and knees bent at 45 degrees.
- Your right leg should be on top of your left leg, with your heels together.Keeping your feet in contact with each other, raise your right knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis.
- Pause, and then return to the starting position.
- Don't allow your left leg to move off the floor.
- Repeat 10 times, and then switch sides, completing 2 to 3 sets.