Can Bodyweight Exercises Build Glutes (Yes, Here’s How)

 


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Do you want to grow your glutes but don’t have access to any weights like barbells or dumbbells? Don’t worry, growing your glutes is very much possible even if you only have your bodyweight to work with.

Bodyweight exercise can build glutes if you have the right approach. First, you need exercises that target the glute muscle, such as the glute bridge. Then, you need to implement methods to progressively overload your glutes so you’re constantly challenging them to grow back bigger and stronger.


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How To Build Your Glute Muscle

 


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Building muscle takes more than just lifting weights. 

To get results, you need to ensure that you’re progressively overloading your muscles, forcing them to rebuild bigger and stronger than before. Your nutrition is also an important variable in building muscle such as consuming enough protein and eating in a caloric surplus, i.e. eating more calories than you can burn. 

However, for this article, we’re going to focus on the training side of things and while our points apply to the glutes, it also covers any muscle group in the body. 

3 Ways You Can Progressively Overload Your Glutes Using Just Your Bodyweight

 


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So, you know you need to progressively overload your glutes but how exactly do you do that?

Here are three ways:

1.  MORE WEIGHT

Adding more weight to your movements is a way of ensuring that you’re challenging your glutes and forcing them to adapt to bigger loads. 

However, as we’re looking at bodyweight exercises for your glutes and not adding weight in the form of barbells or dumbbells to the exercises, the following methods will be more relevant and will show you that progressive overload is doable even by just using your own body and gravity as resistance. 

2.  MORE VOLUME

Increasing the volume of your working bodyweight glute sets is ideal when it comes to progressive overloading and building the muscle. 

This can come in the form of having higher reps to complete and adding in more sets. The good news is that because you’re only using your body weight, the higher volume is much more achievable, though be warned—don’t underestimate them. You’ll definitely feel a burn in your glutes that’ll still make the exercises challenging to do.

Check out my other article on 3 Leg Workouts You Can Do Without Weights.

3.  INCREASE TIME UNDER TENSION

Time under tension (TUT) is an often overlooked method in increasing the load on your glute muscles. Time under tension refers to the amount of time your muscles will be working. 

For example, if you hold a squat in the bottom position for 3 seconds before finishing the movement as opposed to executing the typical straight-down-and-straight-up squat, you’re increasing time under tension. 

Holding a position, also known as pause exercises, is not the only way you can do this. 

Tempo reps can slow down your movement so that you can really feel it from the very start to the very end. An example of this is a tempo squat with a tempo of 4010. This requires you to slow your descent so it takes you 4 seconds to reach the bottom position, hence increasing time under tension.

10 Bodyweight Exercises That Build Glutes

 


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Now that we know how to build our glutes using only bodyweight exercises, here’s a list of exercises that you can do with just you! There’s no need for any barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells here. We’re using just your bodyweight.

The 10 best bodyweight glute exercises are:

  • Glute Bridge

  • Single-Leg Glute Bridge

  • Frog Pump

  • Sumo Squat

  • Reverse Lunge

  • Curtsey Lunge

  • Step Ups

  • Donkey Kick

  • Kickback

  • Fire Hydrants

1. GLUTE BRIDGE

  • Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. You can put your arms to either side of you or lay them on your stomach to rest.

  • Push up with your hips so that your body from your knees down to your chest is making a straight line. Make sure you’re driving through the heels of your feet and squeeze your glutes in the top position.

  • Slowly, return your hips back to the starting position but don’t let them rest on the ground. Hover 1-2 inches above the floor before starting your next rep. 

2. SINGLE-LEG GLUTE BRIDGE

This exercise is similar to the previous one, except it’s the unilateral version.

  • Lie on the floor, facing up. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the ground.

  • Lift one leg up in the air. It doesn’t have to be completely straight because the other leg is going to be the working leg. Another option is to rest the foot of the resting leg on the working knee.

  • Drive through the heel of your working leg to thrust your hips up. You want to ensure that your body makes a straight line from your chest to knee.

  • Lower your hips until they are 1-2 inches above the ground, then push your hips up into another single-leg glute bridge.

  • Once you’ve completed your reps for the one side, switch over.

Related Article: Got A Big Upper Body And Small Legs? Here’s What To Do

3. FROG PUMP

  • Lie on the floor on your back facing the ceiling. Bend your knees so that the soles of your feet are touching each other. It’s like they are in a butterfly position with your upper body resting on the ground. You can keep your arms by your sides or rest them on your stomach.

  • Drive through your feet (still touching) and thrust your hips into the air.

  • Engage your glute muscles by concentrating on squeezing them, especially when they’re as high up in the air as they can go. 

  • Return to the starting position but don’t let your hips touch the ground. Hover above the floor, around 1-2 inches, before going into your next rep.

Notes: The distance between your feet and your body is very subjective. It’s a good idea to experiment with your feet positioning, so you can determine where you should place them for better glute activation.

4. SUMO SQUAT

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. The difference between a normal squat and a sumo squat is that the sumo has a much wider foot placement. Keep your feet pointed at a 45-degree angle. 

  • Bend at the hips and knees, sitting back as you go down. The aim is to try and squat until your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. If you can go lower, even better. If you can’t go parallel yet, that’s okay! You can continue to work on your squat depth each time you do them.

  • Squeeze your glutes and stand back up to your starting position. Try and get this part of the movement as explosive as possible.

  • Repeat.

5. REVERSE LUNGE

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

  • Take a step back and lunge with one leg directly behind you. When you lunge, try to get your back knee almost touching the ground. Go as deep as possible while ensuring that your front knee remains stacked above your ankle, forming a 90-degree angle. Make sure that your torso remains upright. Engage your core to help you balance and keep stable, however, if you need to, use a chair or wall for support.

  • Stand back up. As you do so, bring the lunging leg back to the starting position. You can choose to alternate legs for your reverse lunges or complete all the reps on the one side before switching over.

Notes: Why do we recommend reverse lunges over forward lunges? While both are a lower-body exercise that works your abs, forward lunges emphasise your quads while reverse lunges are more glute and hamstring dominant.


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6. CURTSEY LUNGE

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Step back and lunge with one leg. However, instead of bringing the leg directly behind you, for the curtsey lunge, bring the back leg to the side so that it crosses behind the other leg.

  • Engage your abdominal muscles for balance and squeeze those glutes as you lunge.

  • Bring the back leg to the starting position. Likewise with the reverse lunges, either complete all the reps on the one side first before changing over or alternate legs with each rep.

7. STEP UPS

  • Stand behind a chair or a stable box. 

  • Step up on the chair or box in a controlled motion. To emphasise the glute muscles, drive through your heels of the stepping foot. Make sure that it’s through the front leg that you’re able to step up and not by pushing from the back leg. Engage your core so that you remain balanced.

  • Bring your back leg up and next to the working leg on top of the chair or box. Then, step down with the back leg first before the front.

  • Repeat on one side before switching to the other.

Notes: The height of the chair or box depends on how high you are able to step. It’s best to start low before working your way up. Also, if you need to hold onto the back of the chair or a wall for balance, try to do so lightly using your fingertips. Don’t push up as you step up using your arms as support as this will take away from working the glute. 

8. DONKEY KICK

  • Begin this exercise, on your hands and knees. Ensure your wrists are directly below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. 

  • Engage your core as you lift one leg up behind you, keeping your knee bent, into a donkey kick. Kick it straight up behind you, squeeze your glutes.

  • Don’t bring your knee all the way back down. Instead, only slightly lower it before you being your next rep, like a pulsing pattern.

  • Complete the reps on the one side before switching to the other.

9. KICKBACK

  • Start on all fours, on your hands and knees.

  • Straighten your working leg so that it’s directly behind you, with your feet engaged, toes still touching the ground.

  • Kick your straightened leg in the air behind you, as high as you can go. Engage your core so you can remain balanced and work those glute muscles in the top position.

  • Bring it back down halfway before beginning your next rep.

  • Repeat until your reps are finished on the one side. Then, switch to the other leg.

10. FIRE HYDRANTS

  • Begin this exercise on your hands and knees. Again, ensure that your wrists are below your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. 

  • Contract your abdominal muscle and bring your working knee out and up to the side. Bring that knee as high as possible, keeping it bent so that it remains in a 90-degree angle.

  • Bring it back down without touching the ground. 

  • Complete your reps on one side before switching over to the other.

If you would like more ideas for bodyweight exercises to build your glutes, then check out the FitBod app for a training plan that focuses on the glutes that you can do right in the comfort of your own home, using only your bodyweight..

The Next Step To Building Glutes

 


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Now that you have a list of bodyweight exercises that you can do to target your glutes, you need to continuously challenge yourself so that you can progressively overload this muscle. 

We’re going to take some of our aforementioned recommendations and give some examples of how to apply it to your glute training.

If you don’t want to worry about planning your own fitness program, you can just use Fitbod (click to get 3 free workouts), which will take into account your goals and available equipment. 

Increasing Volume:

  • Week 1: Kickbacks 3 sets of 15 

  • Week 2: Kickbacks 4 sets of 15

  • Week 3: Kickbacks 5 sets of 15 

  • And so on

INCREASING TIME UNDER TENSION:

  • Adding a tempo to the sumo squat, such as taking 4 seconds to descend into the squat before standing back up.

  • Adding a 3-sec pause in the top position of the glute bridge to spend more time squeeze your glutes.

INCREASING WEIGHT:

  • If the thought of adding barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells is still too intimidating, an efficient way of adding more weight, or in this case resistance, to these bodyweight glute exercises is by using resistance bands. You’ll be surprised by how much the difficulty for these exercises can increase just by adding a band around your thighs. 

Final Notes

Bodyweight exercises are a great way to start building glutes. By implementing exercises that target this muscle in your fitness routine and ensuring that you are finding ways to progressively overload them, you’ll be well on your way to getting bigger and stronger glutes.


About The Author

 


Emily Trinh

Emily Trinh

 

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.