Is getting a shapely butt one of your fitness goals? While there are heavy machines that can help you achieve this, you can also do simple but equally effective glute exercises.

Squats, lunges and step-ups are familiar moves that can tone your butt muscles and are doable with or without equipment.

But adding glute exercises into your routine has a bigger purpose for your health and is more than looking great in jeans.

So, keep reading to learn why training for a firm butt is essential and how to do this in the comfort of your home.

What are Glutes and Why Train Them?

Before you start working for your dream bum, it’s best to understand what this muscle is first.

The glutes, also known as your butt, act as the primary thigh and hip mobiliser.

This muscle works each time you stand, sit, jump or climb. And it has three main sub-muscles:

  • Gluteus minimus. It is the smallest of the three muscles of your glutes. Usually, it works with the gluteus medius to stabilise your hips while moving on one leg. One example is when you are walking and running.
  • Gluteus medius. Like gluteus minimus, this second-largest gluteal muscle is responsible for hip stability and rotation. This muscle maintains your balance, especially when moving your leg away from the midline. One example is when you step out of bed or climb the stairs.
  • Gluteus maximus. The largest muscle of your butt is also the most visible. The gluteus maximus lets you extend your hips while walking and rotate your thigh when swinging your leg.

The functions of all three gluteal muscles are interconnected.

And they help us do some of the most basic movements we do every day.

That only means one thing: having weak glutes would limit mobility.

Spending long hours sitting down also weakens this muscle, leading to knee and low back pain.

In some cases, prolonged glute inactivity may also result in gluteal amnesia or dead butt syndrome.

How Can I Exercise My Glutes at Home?

Building stronger glutes is not limited to aesthetic reasons.

It’s a good thing working your bum is not that hard, as long as you do basic activities like walking or running daily.

But for more targeted results, why not try one or two of these effective glute exercises?

I based this selection on a recent study identifying the moves for high glute activation.

Also, I consider these glute exercises the most effective since you can do them even without specialised equipment.

Later, you can advance these moves with ankle weights, dumbbells or resistance bands.

Side Lying Leg Lift

1. Standing or Side-Lying Leg Lift

  1. Start by standing sideways with your feet hip-width apart or lying on your right side with your legs stacked straight.
  2. Lift your left leg to the side (if standing) or vertically (if lying down).
  3. Hold the leg lift for about 2 seconds before returning to starting position.
  4. Repeat this lifting action 8 to 12 times before switching to your right leg. Then, do this for about 2 to 3 sets on each side.

Make this glute exercise even more effective by wearing a resistance band loop around your legs or strapping an ankle weight on one leg.

Glute Bridges

2. Glute Bridges

  1. Begin by lying on your back on a mat.
  2. Bend your knees with your feet about 30 to 40 cm from your butt. Then, place your arms to the side with palms facing down.
  3. Keep your core tight and push your pelvis up. Squeeze your glutes as you perform this upward motion.
  4. Hold the bridge position for 2 seconds before lowering your hips back.
  5. Repeat this action 8 to 12 times for 2 to 3 sets. Then, increase it to 20 times per set when ready.

You can put a loop band above your knees to take your glute bridge to the next level.

Another effective variation of this glute exercise is to hold and place a dumbbell on top of your core while lifting your butt.

Side Squats

3. Side Squats

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step your right foot wide to one side, then bend your knees to come down to a squat position.
  3. Hold this pose for a few seconds before standing and bringing your foot back into starting position.
  4. Repeat this action 12 to 15 times before switching to your left foot. Then, do this for about 2 to 3 sets on each side. You can also do this alternately if you like.

Make this butt exercise challenging by wearing a light-to-medium-tension loop band above your knee or holding a kettlebell.

Squats, in general, are among the most effective exercises for toning the glutes.

And you can always do half or full stationary squats to shape your butt if you like.

However, I find the lateral movement of side squats better since these activate your inner and outer thighs.

For other squat variations, check out this article on how to do goblet squats correctly.


4. Lunges

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Next, step your right foot forward longer than a walking stride. Keep your left foot back with its heel slightly up.
  3. Then, lower yourself and bend your knees to about 90 degrees. Rest your hands on top of your front knee.
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds while keeping your chest upright and core engaged.
  5. Press your left heel to stand, returning to starting position.
  6. Repeat this action 12 to 15 times before switching to your left foot. Then, do this for about 2 to 3 sets on each side. You can also do this alternately if you like.

One good lunge variation is the reverse lunge, where you’ll step your leg to the back instead.

You can also hold dumbbells in each hand to make this glute exercise more effective and challenging.

Lunges, however, are not advisable if you have knee problems. But you can try these alternative exercises for a bad knee instead.

Step-Ups as Effective Glute Exercise

5. Step-Ups

  1. Begin by standing in front of a platform, which can be your stairs at home, a sturdy step-up box or an aerobic stepper. It should be high enough, allowing you to bend your knee at a 90-degree angle when stepping up.
  2. Now, step your right foot up, keeping your left foot on the floor. Next, bend your back knee, if you like, to lunge for an additional challenge.
  3. Return to starting position by bringing your right foot down.
  4. Repeat this action 12 to 15 times before switching to your left foot. Then, do this for about 2 to 3 sets on each side. You can also do this alternately if you like.

Step-up exercises are effective on the glutes as these encourage single-leg movements.

These, in turn, make it easier to activate all three muscles of your butt.

Try to use a higher platform or hold dumbbells or weight plates in each hand to make step-ups more challenging.


The most effective way to exercise your glutes is to perform a variety of moves that target your butt from all angles.

But remember, you are also doing everyday movements like walking that strengthen your bum.

So, no need to do butt workouts for extended periods that can lead to fatigue and overtraining.

For best results, 1 to 3 days of glute training weekly should be enough.

Also, allocate about 48 hours between butt workouts to let the muscle recover.

1. Can an exercise bike tone my bum?

Regular indoor cycling can surely enhance your butt. That’s because your gluteal muscles help extend your hips to perform the pedalling motion. Constant biking targets your glutes and, eventually, makes them less saggy.

2. Can a treadmill build my glutes?

Treadmills can potentially flatten your butt rather than enhance it. It is because you tend to reduce body fat with running, which can make your gluteal muscles lose shape. If a shapely butt is among your goals, consider tweaking your fitness routine and ramping up that treadmill incline. Also, try some strategic moves like lunging or walking on a treadmill with bent knees.