12 Powerful Gluteus Maximus Exercises To Fix Weakness & Lift Your Buttocks (2024)

This post has been updated to include 12 best gluteus Maximus exercises.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body. And it’s designed to be the strongest. Our sedentary lifestyle, combined with the lack of exercise or even doing certain glutes exercises with bad form, can all lead to weak glutes.

Today, I’ll show you 12 amazing exercises that activate and engage your gluteus maximus without squats or heavy weights. I’ve also included workout videos at the end to target the glute max.

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I’ll include important tips to ensure you’re doing the exercises with proper form to avoid compensation.

Recommended Program:The new Strong Glutes program is officially open.Click here to learn more.

Here’s what we’ll cover today:

  • A quick overview of what the gluteus maximus does (functions)
    • Where this muscle is located and its effect on the other muscles
  • 12 gluteus maximus exercises
    • Bodyweight, band, and weight variations.
    • Gluteus maximus workouts you can do at home.
  • Causes of gluteus maximus weakness
    • Symptoms and signs of a weak glute max
  • How to effectively activate, engage, and strengthen the gluteus maximus without hip or piriformis pain

The Gluteus Maximus Location And Functions

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Gluteus Maximus Location:

  • The glute max is connected to the sacrum, the ilium, and the thoracolumbar fascia, which connects the gluteus max to the latissimus dorsi.
  • The Thoracolumbar Fascia is that white space (in the image) connected to the lats and the glute max. The body is all connected through Fascia. And this is a good example of it.
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Gluteus Maximus Functions:

  • The glute max extends and externally rotates the hips. The gluteus maximus will perform that movement when you kick your leg backward.
  • In addition, the glute max, with the glute medius and glute minimus, stabilize the lumbar spine and pelvis.
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12 Gluteus Maximus Exercises

5 Strengthening Exercises For Weak Gluteus Maximus (NO SQUATS!)

To maximize gluteus Maximus engagement, spend a few minutes releasing the hip flexors with a foam roller to remove any restrictions and allow the hips to extend fully:

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When these muscles are very tight and overactive, they inhibit the gluteus maximus from fully contracting and going into a full range of motion (extension).

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I use a foam roller for the quads and TFL and a massage ball for the Psoas because it’s a deeper muscle.

Here’s the list of the gluteus maximus activation and strengthening exercises. Below are the images and instructions to properly do each exercise.

  • Bodyweight glute bridges
  • Band bridges with band pull-apart
  • Weighted bridges
  • High bridge
  • Quadruped hip extensions
  • Quadruped leg extensions
  • Glute kicks with band
  • Hyperextensions
  • Prone leg extensions
  • Side-to-side walks
  • Banded squats
  • Band pull-throughs

Bodyweight Glute Bridges

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  • Breathe deeply and engage your core and glutes. Push your hips up and focus on that glute max contraction at the top.
  • Lower and lift back up again for a total of 15 reps. Focus on good quality repetitions.

Band Bridges With Band Pull-Apart

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  • This is a great glute development exercise as it works the gluteus maximus and medius simultaneously.
  • As you raise your hips, pull the band apart. The glute med will work extra here!
  • I love this exercise because you get full glute engagement.

Weighted Bridges

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  • Use a light or medium dumbbell for this exercise. Push through your feet and lift your glutes while squeezing at the top.

Important tip: Make sure you don’t use your lower back to help the glutes. If the weight makes you compensate with your lower back, simply use a lighter dumbbell or regress to one of the previous bridge variations.

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Strong Glutes Program

6-Week Plan to safely strengthen your glutes and get rid of hip pain, imbalances, and hip weaknesses.

High Bridges

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  • Take the bridge exercise to the next level by placing your feet higher and engaging the hamstrings.
  • Keep your glutes engaged, and pull that band apart as well.
  • Lower your hips down, but keep tension in the band.
  • Keep your back straight and pelvis stable – avoid overarching your lower back.

Quadruped Hip Extensions

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  • Bend your leg to disengage the hamstrings and focus on the glute Maximus muscle.
  • Extend your hip and bring your heel towards the ceiling, squeezing at the top.
  • Lower your leg to the starting position. Aim for 12-15 repetitions and switch sides.

Quadruped Leg Extensions

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  • This exercise is similar to the hip extension one above, only now we’re extending the leg to engage the hamstrings and the gluteus Maximus.
  • Make sure you initiate the movement at the hip and extend back using your glutes.

Important tip: Avoid over-arching your lower back. Keep your core engaged for balance and to support your lower back. Imagine having a cup of water on your back and you’re trying to maintain stability throughout the exercise.

Glute Kickbacks With Band

I use this fabric band because it doesn’t roll up and is very strong and long-lasting.

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  • Use a light band for this exercise.
  • Engage your core and glutes, kick your heel up towards the ceiling, and slowly lower back down.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top to feel the contractions.

Important tip: Make sure you keep your core and back very steady. Don’t round your back or over-extend it. Keep it stable, and just move your hips.

Hyperextensions

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  • Use a bench, chair, or a stability ball to do this exercise.
  • Lie on your belly and lift your legs. Bend slightly at the knees. Use your hips to lift your legs towards the ceiling.
  • Slowly lower down.
  • As you raise back up, pause briefly at the top to squeeze the glutes.

Important tip: Use the glutes to extend your hips. Avoid using your lower back. It’s okay if the movement is small in the beginning. What’s important is the contractions and feeling your glutes working.

Modification:

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Prone Leg Extensions with Band

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  • Place a band around your ankles.
  • In the prone position, engage your core and glutes and extend one hip back while keeping the other leg down.
  • Keep your hips leveled while you lift your leg.
  • Pause at the top briefly for that extra glute max contraction.

Lateral Glute Walks

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  • With the band around your legs, keep your feet pointing forward, and complete a few steps to each side.
  • Bend at the hips slightly to engage the gluteus Maximus. This exercise is focused on activating the gluteus medius and minimus as well for full glute development.

Band Pull Throughs

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  • Anchor the band to a heavy table, weight, or furniture item.
  • Stand in front and pull the band through your legs.
  • Hinge and push your hips backward, then pull the band using your glutes (not your arms).
  • Pause briefly at the top to feel the glutes working as they resist the pull.

Important tip: This is a great integration/functional exercise to engage the posterior chain muscles and train the glute max to work with core and hamstrings.

Banded Squats

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  • Use a medium resistance band above your knees.
  • Use a chair or bend for support. Lower down into a squat while keeping tension in that band to activate the gluteus medius and minimus.
  • Slowly come back up.

Important tip: Avoid collapsing on the chair. Simply touch the chair and use your glutes to raise back up. The bench/chair provides some support if you get lower back pressure from squats.

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The Deep Core Mini-Training

An essential weekly plan to help you strengthen your deep core muscles, stabilize your back, and get rid of back pain.

12 Powerful Gluteus Maximus Exercises To Fix Weakness & Lift Your Buttocks (24)

Strong Glutes Program

6-Week Plan to safely strengthen your glutes and get rid of hip pain, imbalances, and hip weaknesses.

Why It’s Important to Strengthen The Glute Max

The glute max is a large muscle that stabilizes the sacroiliac joint (SI joint) (1) and lumbar spine. The Sacroiliac joint is made up of the sacrum and ilium:

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Chronic lower back pain, SI joint dysfunction, and instability can often stem from a gluteus maximus weakness.

What Weakens The Gluteus Maximus

If you suffer from deep gluteal pain, check out my program Piriformis Control.

A Sedentary Lifestyle: Most of us sit for prolonged periods (myself included). When you sit for a long time without a break, your posterior chain completely shuts off (glutes, hamstrings, lats, stabilizing muscles). Your core weakness, too.

This contributes to a very weak posterior chain which can contribute to chronic lower back issues.

Prior Injuries: Injuries happen. Falls or bone fractures can force you to be inactive for a while. If you’ve had a lower-body injury preventing you from exercising for some time, this could have contributed to weak glutes.

Injuries also alter the way you move. You compensate a lot with other muscles. Instability turns into dysfunction and chronic pain.

In addition to the amazing gluteus maximus exercises below, here’s a great supplementary PDF that includes exercises for the gluteus medius muscle:

Neglecting The Glutes: If you’re not including glute exercises weekly (glute med and glute max) the way they’re designed to be trained (in all planes of motion), the glutes will weaken over time. This also leads to something called ‘glute amnesia’, where people have a hard time activating or ‘feeling’ their glutes. This can often lead to injuries as you start compensating with your lower back during exercise.

How Do I Test If My Gluteus Maximus Muscle Needs Strengthening

Below are the most common signs of a weak gluteus maximus. Remember, because the whole body is connected, signs of weakness or instability may also impact other areas of the body.

So there may be postural signs of weak glute max, as I’ll show you below:

1. Hamstrings Tightness

When you perform the glute bridge, do you feel tightness building up in the hamstrings instead of your glutes?

If yes, then that’s a clear sign of glute max weakness. If the glute max doesn’t engage right away, when needed, the hamstrings will kick in to help. This can lead to a build-up of tightness and even pain.

2. Anterior Pelvic Tilt Posture

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This postural symptom of weak glutes and very tight and overactive hip flexors. The hip flexors are pulling the pelvis forward.

The glutes and lats are long and underactive, unable to pull and stabilize the pelvis.

I’ll explain how to fix this below when I introduce the exercises (because we have to do something first before working on the glutes!)

3. Glutes Amnesia

Glutes amnesia is the term for underactive glutes that you just can’t ‘feel’ or contract properly because of how under-used they are.

The glutes shut off, and you have what is called dead butt syndrome.

12 Powerful Gluteus Maximus Exercises To Fix Weakness & Lift Your Buttocks (27)

The Deep Core Mini-Training

An essential weekly plan to help you strengthen your deep core muscles, stabilize your back, and get rid of back pain.

12 Powerful Gluteus Maximus Exercises To Fix Weakness & Lift Your Buttocks (28)

Strong Glutes Program

6-Week Plan to safely strengthen your glutes and get rid of hip pain, imbalances, and hip weaknesses.

Gluteus Maximus Workouts

The exercises above are just a few examples of what you can do to activate and strengthen the gluteus maximus. Below are some amazing workouts you can do at home that are quick and effective.

Trembling Glutes Workout

TREMBLING GLUTES Workout for Weak Glutes & Pelvic Stabilization | 10 minutes

Low-Impact Glutes and Legs Workout

Build Your Glutes And Legs At Home (Low Impact - Back Friendly Workout)

Band Glutes Exercises

11 Amazing Resistance Band Glute/Leg Exercises (No Weights Needed!)

I hope you found this post helpful. Please consider sharing it with others who can benefit from some glute work!

Related Posts

  • Hip flexors release (PSOAS and quads)
  • Tensor Fascia Latta release (TFL)
  • How to strengthen a weak gluteus medius
  • Glutes and legs home workout
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Coach Sofia

Certified Strength Coach | NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist & Founder at Coachsofiafitness

Hey there, I'm Sofia. Welcome to my blog! I'm here to help you get permanent relief from piriformis, hip, and lower back pain without spending years in pain suffering through information overwhelm or temporary fixes. I've been through the chronic pain journey myself. I know how lonely and hard it can get... Click here to read about my story and how I healed after 7 years of chronic pain, against all odds.

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12 Powerful Gluteus Maximus Exercises To Fix Weakness & Lift Your Buttocks (2024)

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