9 Best Lower Glute Exercises To Shape Your Butt

Ignoring direct glute training is going to leave you with a saggy, underperforming posterior.

You’ll miss out on the great aesthetics of firm cheeks, the sporting power of hip extension, and the missing piece in everything from spinal health to massive squats.

Or you can read this article and use the 9 best lower glute exercises to build bigger glutes and better lifts.

What Are The Lower Glutes?

The lower glute area is made up of the gluteus maximus and other smaller muscles. It’s a popular area to train because it changes the shape of the lower buttock.

This is an easy area to add general mass, but sculpting the shape around the buttocks can be difficult. You have to train more than just the glute max to make it grow:

The lower glutes extend the hip but also control the position of the leg and knee. They rotate your leg, so you want to reach deep into these muscles for the stretch in all lower glute exercises.

The extra length will be key to fully stretch these long muscles that wrap around the hip.

9 Best Lower Glute Exercises For Shaping Your Butt

The best lower glute exercises are hip thrusts, specific deadlift variations, and even bodyweight exercises. It’s important to find what works for you, so try them all out and keep the things you feel most effectively in your lower butt!

1. Hip Thrust

Bigger hip thrust = bigger glutes.

The hip thrust works the entire glute – but building big glutes is the fastest way to grow each part. 

It’s the big missing piece of the puzzle and necessary for maximal lower glute growth. Focus on adding more weight and reps; it’s that simple. 

How To

  1. Sit on the floor with your shoulders resting against a stable, knee-height object behind you
  2. Place a barbell in the crease of your hips – above the pubic bone and below the hip bones
  3. Bring your feet close to your hips, flat on the floor around 1-2 feet away
  4. Raise the barbell up towards the ceiling by pushing your hips up, letting your shoulders move backward
  5. Hold the top position for 1-2 seconds, focusing on squeezing the glutes to push the hips up and knees out to the sides
  6. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position to complete the rep


Focus on lifting big weights in the 6-10 rep range. This is the main driver of growth and should be used alongside other glute exercises to build the smaller muscles more effectively.

FURTHER READING: Dumbbell Hip Thrust With Perfect Form (& Common Mistakes)

2. Lateral Lunges

Lateral lunges are great because they push you into deep hip flexion and lateral movement. These force your glute and related muscles to work hard, building the muscles along the side and lower glute.

You can also use the jumping variation of lateral lunges without weight to overload the eccentric portion and start building serious control and power around the hips.

How To

  1. From a standing position, place one foot out to the side and bend your knees and hips.
  2. Step out to one side, keeping your feet in line and allowing your weight to move between your feet.
  3. Squat into one foot, allowing your weight to shift into that hip and leg by pushing the hips down and back while bending the knee.
  4. Reverse the movement, push down and sideways, and stand tall by extending the hip.
  5. Stand up tall and repeat on the other leg to complete the movement.


Lateral lunges are usually a mid-light exercise and should be performed for control. 

Work up to challenging weights in the 6-15 rep range. Focus on slowing down – more effective for health, strength, and muscle growth – and not just weight.

3. Reverse Lunge

Reverse lunges are the easiest lunge, making them the best way to drive up your intensity – both weight and reps. Because you can push the hips back to bias the glute, providing a simple but super powerful option for lower glute development. 

How To

  1. Take a dumbbell in either hand, a barbell on your back, or a kettlebell in the goblet position
  2. Begin standing upright with your feet at hip width and your core active
  3. Step back with one foot to a position where your weight is even between your legs
  4. Slowly squat down, easing the hips back and bending your knees until you’re near the floor
  5. Hold this position briefly, trying to feel the tension in the front quad and both glutes
  6. Reverse the movement, pushing up and forward, opening up the hips, and standing tall
  7. Step forward into your original position before repeating on the opposite side


The reverse lunge is perfect after heavy squats or deadlifts but before your ‘small’ isolation exercises. Focus on sets of 6-12 reps – but remember you’ll feel very tired since you’re using both legs for stability on each side.

FURTHER READING: Top 5 Better Alternatives to Lunges for Bad Knees

4. Bulgarian Split Squat

Any split squat variation is great for building your legs and hips together. You’re loading up one leg, but maintaining your balance on the other leg, letting you overload the glute effectively.

Regular split squats with either barbells or dumbbells will offer a great way to build your lower glutes.

How To

  1. Take a dumbbell in either hand, a barbell on your back, or a kettlebell in the goblet position.
  2. Begin standing upright with your feet at hip width and your core active.
  3. Elevate your rear foot on a box, bench, or knee-height object, around 1-2 feet behind your hips.
  4. Bend your knees and hips slightly to begin, inclining your torso and pushing the hips back slightly.
  5. Slowly squat down, keeping your weight stable, bending the knee and hip together.
  6. Squat as low as possible without losing posture or raising any of your feet off the floor.
  7. Hold the bottom position briefly before reversing the movement – pushing down through your foot to extend your knee and hip together.
  8. Stand up completely upright, squeezing your quad and glute to complete the rep.


The Bulgarian split squat always feels difficult, and the weights you can use for normal sets of 8-12 reps are relatively low. This is the ideal range for most people and will be challenging due to the time spent between both legs. 

6. Single-Leg Dumbbell Deadlift

This is a light exercise that helps you build hip control and symmetry. You can use it with higher reps to build excellent lower glutes while improving your hip and hamstring health – perfect for long-term gains.

The single-leg version is all about stability and control, so keep your core active, weigh even through the foot, and slow down.

How To

  1. Stand up tall with a dumbbell in the opposite hand to the leg you’re lifting.
  2. Set your feet at a comfortable width and brace your core and glute together.
  3. Hinge at the hip and push your hips backward, keeping the head and heel in a straight line, until the dumbbell is just off the floor
  4. Keeping everything else stable, reverse the movement by pushing your hips in and opening them up.
  5. Stand up tall to complete the rep, keeping tension between reps.


The single-leg dumbbell deadlift can go anywhere in your training – it’s a great warm-up but should be used for 12-20 reps per side to develop muscle mass around the glutes. The lower glutes love developing through endurance on this exercise as the weights are typically quite light.

However, ensure you’re not twisting at the spine or hips, as this can lead to discomfort and injury.

FURTHER READING: Top 10 Single-Leg Exercises for Strength, Mass & Athleticism

7. Stagger Stance Deadlifts

The staggered stance deadlift is a much heavier version of the single-leg deadlift. Because of the added stability, you can push the weight and reps to boost your total work volume. This lets you aggressively grow your glutes while offering the stability demand that makes the lower glute work.

This makes it a perfect choice for your lower glute growth when you want to work hard.

How To

  1. Take a hip-width stance in front of a barbell with a normal deadlift grip on the bar or slightly wider.
  2. Step back with one foot, around a foot’s length, and with only the front of the foot touching the ground.
  3. Set up like a normal deadlift – easing the hips, flattening your back, and bending the front knee slightly.
  4. Perform the deadlift as normal, keeping your hips in line (not rotating at the hip) and spine stable with a big chest and active core.
  5. Push the floor down and your hips forward, squeezing both glutes to push yourself into the bar as you reach the top position.
  6. Hold the position, clenching the glutes, for 1-2 seconds before lowering to the floor again.


The staggered stance deadlift comes with more risk than normal because doing it wrong while fatigued or with excess weight can twist the spine or hips. This is where injuries typically happen – so you need to be humble with your choice of weights.

Aim for sets of 6-10 per leg, using a weight that feels difficult toward the end of the set. 

8. Kickstand RDL 

The kickstand RDL is a rare but powerful exercise that not enough people are using. It teaches you to push your hips forward – the proper action for the deadlift. This makes it a fantastic way to build your glutes and develop proper mechanics for all hip-centered exercises.

You can also use this exercise before or during your workouts, making it super flexible to fit your training routine.

How To

  1. Take a dumbbell in either hand, a barbell on your back, or a kettlebell in the goblet position.
  2. Stand in front of a wall with one foot behind yourself, flat on the wall, with a straight or bent rear leg (as comfortable)
  3. Perform a deadlift as normal, easing your hips back and hinging forward as far as possible while keeping a straight back.
  4. Hold that position briefly at the end of your comfortable range – or when the weight touches the floor.
  5. Reverse the movement by opening the hips up as you push them forward, maintaining pressure on both feet, pushing the floor down and wall ‘backward.’
  6. Stand up tall, slightly exaggerating the top position by squeezing the glutes, completing the rep.


This lower-glute accessory exercise should go at the end of your session. It’s a lighter option and focuses on slow, controlled contraction.

Perform sets of 8-20 reps per side with light to moderate weights. Avoid twisting in the hips or spine – just like other stagger stances or single-leg deadlifts.

9. Hip Extensions

This is the powerful hip isolation exercise you’ve been looking for. It’s similar to the back extension, but we keep the spine flat. The idea is to hold the top position by really activating the glutes, squeezing into the pad, and pausing.

This is a huge glute-ham exercise to build that lower glute area, strengthening the hamstrings while building the smaller muscles around the lower glute region (and, of course, the glute itself!).

How To

  1. Place your feet in the supports with your feet flat on the footplate.
  2. Ensure you can comfortably lean over the pad without it contacting the lower abdomen.
  3. Bend over as far as possible, keeping the torso flat, bending at the hips – you should feel a stretch in the hamstrings at the bottom.
  4. Reverse the motion by pushing your hips into the pad aggressively and pushing your knees out to the side.
  5. Once your body is completely straight, hold this position for 1-2 seconds, actively clenching your glutes to stabilize yourself.
  6. Slowly lower back to the ‘relaxed’ position, completing the repetition.


Hip extensions can be performed with or without weight. Before adding weight, beginners should use the bodyweight version to build strength and lower glute mass.

You can load the hip extension relatively quickly but should focus on movement quality. Adding weight too quickly will lead to poor pauses, using too much momentum, or arching your back – all of which take the focus off the lower glute muscles.

You can also use a single-leg variation, but this does require a lot more strength – especially in the hamstrings – and isn’t for beginners.

10. Glute-Ham Raises

Glute ham raises will make your legs and hips feel like jelly. That’s how you know they’re working.

By moving your glute and hamstring through their full range under load, you’re able to stretch and contract maximally. You force the small muscles around the lower glute to work and grow while also getting more stretch-mediated hypertrophy in the glutes and hams.

It’s a hard exercise but offers the most potent bang for your buck when you’re short on time during a lower body workout.

How To

  1. Lie on a glute-ham developer machine with your feet between (or under) the supports and your feet flat on the footplate.
  2. Lean over the pad as far as possible, ensuring it doesn’t contact your abdomen, until you reach the bottom position where your body naturally ‘hangs.’
  3. With a straight torso and light tension in your hamstrings, begin the movement by performing a hip extension; push your hips into the pad to bring yourself parallel with the floor.
  4. From this position, keep extending the hips aggressively and use this slight momentum to begin bending your knees, “pulling” yourself upright.
  5. Continue as far as possible – ideally sitting all the way upright with a 90-degree knee bend and 180-degree hip position.
  6. Reverse the motion under control to return to the starting position (3), completing the rep.


Even bodyweight glute-ham raises are hard, so take your time and use bodyweight for more total reps. Using rep goals (e.g., completing 25 total reps in as few sets as possible) is one of the most effective ways to use this exercise.

Lower Glute Training FAQs

Building the lower glutes involves managing many factors – let’s make it simple by answering your most wanted questions.

Do Squats Target Lower Glutes?

Squats will develop the whole glute and do not directly isolate the muscles around the lower glute. They are an excellent choice for full lower body development. Still, you may want to add extra glute isolation exercises to improve growth.

For most people, squatting for glute growth is not the most effective way. It can be the “big” lift at the start of a lower body session, but you should add extra hinging movements or single leg exercises.

How Do You Isolate Your Lower Glutes? 

You isolate the lower glute area with exercises focusing on stabilizing the knee and hip. You can’t isolate the lower gluteus maximus – you need to build muscles like the piriformis and inferior gemellus to shape the lower buttocks.


The lower glutes are an interesting area with multiple muscles working together to control the position of the hips – both internal and external rotation. The exercises listed here provide a complete suite of the most important movements to train them and grow your lower glutes.

Try these out, and progress patiently in anything you’ve not trained regularly before. They’re great movements, but all those benefits require attention to how you move and the exercises you’re using. 

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Chris Thompson
Hi, I'm Chris. I'm a personal trainer, writer & co-founder of OxygenFitnessCT. I've been writing hundreds of articles on strength training & muscle building for several fitness websites & apps since 2017. Our goal with OxygenFitnessCT is to help you pick the most effective, suitable exercises to improve your workout & achieve your fitness goals.

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