Treadmill exercises are proven effective if your goals include heart health and weight loss. But can a treadmill build glutes, too?

You might be disappointed to know that 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. Also, treadmills are for improving other health aspects and not your bum specifically.

However, there are still ways how you can work out with your treadmill to reshape your glutes.

You can then complement these with other alternative exercises for optimum results.

Here’s what you need to know for a more effective butt-lifting session!

Why Do Treadmill Workouts Flatten Your Butt?

If you’ve been doing a lot of endurance training with your treadmill, you might notice that your bum looks a bit flatter than it used to.

This outcome is both good and bad news.

The good news is that your treadmill efforts are working, and you’re losing weight and fat.

But the bad news is that some body parts, like your butt, start losing their firmness.

And there are two reasons why your treadmill cannot build glutes.

Treadmills do not activate the glutes as much.

Compared with other cardio exercises, running involves minimal bum movement.

Running outdoors or on uneven terrain can activate the gluteal muscles to some degree.

But if you run on a treadmill, where the surface is always flat and the same, your butt has nearly zero activity.

That’s because most of the load goes to your thighs.

Three main muscles give your butt its shape. These are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

And limited activation of these muscles would eventually lead to loss of muscular tone.

Treadmills burn calories and fat.

Aside from muscles, your butt also stores a good amount of body fat.

And doing constant cardio workouts through treadmills will cause high caloric burn and, later, fat loss.

The combined loss of muscle tone and fat, in turn, leads to a less shapely butt.

Treadmill Incline to Build Your Glutes

How Can a Treadmill Help Build Your Glutes?

Don’t worry about losing fat on your bum, as that’s the initial phase to giving it a better shape.

What you need to do next is to perform treadmill moves that help build your glutes.

Here are some treadmill incline variations you can try.

Walk or Jog on a Treadmill Incline

Exercising on a flat treadmill can activate the heart but not your glutes.

So, hit that incline button and try walking at a 5% incline.

Once you feel comfortable, gradually increase your current incline by 1-2%.

You can also stick to a level where you can safely jog and simultaneously activate the glutes and burn calories.

Try this sample interval session:

  1. Set the treadmill at a 1% incline with a comfortable brisk walking or jogging speed. Warm up your body for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Then, shift to a higher incline level (between 5% and 15%), depending on your fitness level. Do your inclined brisk walk or jog for 1 minute.
  3. Next, lower the incline to 0% for a 1-minute recovery walk or jog.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you complete a 30-minute workout.

Make sure your heels touch the deck first as you walk or jog uphill to boost gluteal activation.

Have you heard of the 12-3-30 incline treadmill workout? You can also do this low-intensity exercise to increase muscle activation and stamina.

Do Treadmill Incline Lunges

Another way to use the treadmill to build your glutes is the lunge move.

Lunges can isolate your thigh and butt to tone and shape these muscles.

The effect is better when you do it on a treadmill. Here are the steps:

  1. Set the treadmill speed to 2-3 mph and the incline at about 15%.
  2. Carefully do your lunge walking exercise for 2-3 minutes. Hold onto the handrail if needed. But it’s best to let go and use your body for balance to amplify toning effects.

You can do this as a strength training exercise with a treadmill or recovery move during interval training.

Try the Mud Walk

Trudging through a swamp or muddy area is not easy.

The resistance created by the mud forces you to dig your heels deep and activate muscles often neglected during regular walking.

And you can recreate this with a treadmill to build your glutes. Here’s how:

  1. Set your treadmill to walking speed with an 8% incline.
  2. Next, hold onto the handrails as you generously bend your knees.
  3. Start walking uphill with bent knees for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Afterwards, stand up to walk and recover for 1 minute with a 1% incline. Repeat the cycle up to 10 times.
Does incline walking build glutes

What Else Can I Do to Build My Glute Muscles?

While you can build your glutes using the incline function of a treadmill, it is not enough to produce considerable muscle mass.

And you might already have a treadmill at home without an incline feature.

So, aside from walking uphill, consider doing other exercises made for butt muscle growth and definition.

For example, stair climbing is an excellent cardio and muscular exercise. You can use the stairs at home or in the office building.

Some gyms also have a piece of equipment called a stair climber. Another alternative is to do step-up exercises with a step box or aerobic stepper.

Also, try adding bodyweight strength training exercises, like planking, regular squats and lunges.

Doing them with dumbbells or barbells gives additional benefits such as high caloric burn and enhanced bone health.


There’s nothing wrong with doing cardio exercises or using the treadmill for a better physique.

However, workout variety is necessary to counter their downsides.

Running on a flat treadmill may not effectively build glutes, for example.

If a shapely butt is among your goals, consider tweaking your fitness routine, and start ramping up that incline.

Try some strategic moves like lunging or walking on a treadmill with bent knees.

My list of the best treadmills with an incline feature and heavy-duty construction should help you do these.

Then, do other exercises that target your bum muscles for better results.

Adding alternative activities like squats and step-ups should give you a great-looking butt in no time!

See also: Does Treadmill Incline Make Your Calves Bigger?

1. Should you use a treadmill before or after weight training?

The workout sequence depends on your fitness goals and, to some extent, preference. Bodybuilders, for example, should boost their muscle mass by lifting weights before cardio. On the other hand, runners can do their treadmill routine first for better stamina. People exercising for good health should focus on achieving exercise balance instead.

2. What other exercise equipment can build the glutes?

Indoor cycling with an exercise bike, particularly spin or upright models, can tone your bum. 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. Leaning or standing up while cycling and adjusting the resistance can shape your butt more.