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The 6 Compound Glute Exercises Needed In Every Booty Program

February 07, 2024

The best compound glute exercises by Robor Fitness

Ah, the booty. The peach. The posterior. The derriere. Whatever you like to call it, it’s no secret that a well-toned, strong gluteus maximus (and its supporting cast of gluteus medius and minimus) is highly coveted these days.

But shaping up your posterior isn't just about the aesthetic appeal. It's about power, strength, and, of course, making every pair of jeans you own look like they were tailored just for you!

Whether you're a fitness enthusiast flexing in your local gym, or the proud garage gym owner growing the glutes from the comfort of your own home (because, let's face it, sometimes you just want to squat in peace), you’ve likely heard of compound exercises. But do you know how they can revolutionize your booty game?

Let's cut to the chase. What if I told you that by including specific exercises in your booty workout, you could target your glutes and several other muscles in your lower body and core all at once?

No, this isn't an infomercial scam - it's the power of compound exercises! But don't just take my word for it; come along on this fitness journey as we uncover the six compound exercises that every booty program needs.

We’ll also tackle some common mistakes and provide tips on eating and training for the best results. So, grab your water bottle, and let's get moving, shall we?


What Is a Compound Exercise

So, what exactly are compound exercises? As the name suggests, compound exercises are like the multitaskers of the fitness world. They are multi-joint exercises that work more than one muscle group at a time.

Think about the humble squat. You're not just working your quads. Your glutes, lower back, and calves are also joining the party. It's a full-on lower-body fest!

Let's contrast that with isolation exercises. These are like the specialists of the fitness world. They focus on working one muscle at one joint. Take the leg extension, for instance. It's all about the quads, baby, and nothing else!

Isolation exercises have their role, sure. If you've got a muscle lagging, they can help bring it up to speed. But when you're short on time or want the most bang for your buck, compound exercises rise to the occasion.

There's a time and place for both types of exercises in a well-rounded fitness routine. But when it comes to shaping that booty and improving overall strength and efficiency, compound exercises are your secret weapon. They let you hit multiple muscles simultaneously, ramping up your strength, coordination, and calorie burn. Who doesn't want that?


Compound Vs. Isolation Exercises: Which Are Better?

Compound versus isolation exercises. Which one is the victor in the battle of the booty gains? Well, spoiler alert - they're both winners in their own right but for different reasons.

Consider compound exercises as efficient go-getters. They work multiple muscles at once, giving you a full-body workout in a fraction of the time. No need to target each muscle individually; these powerhouses have got you covered. It's like having an all-in-one home gym, compact and convenient!

In the other corner, we have isolation exercises. These are the dedicated solo artists, focusing on one muscle at a time. They're essential for honing in on a specific muscle group, particularly if you want to correct an imbalance or give a lagging muscle some extra attention.

But here's the kicker - compound exercises allow us to work with heavier weights. In the fitness world, strength and size go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly. If we can get stronger, we're likely to build muscle. And who wants to refrain from boasting about a new squat PR?

Now, let's chat about progressive overload. It's the golden key to building muscle, helping you increase the demands on your body over time to spur growth and strength gains. And guess what? It's much easier to implement progressive overload with compound exercises compared to isolation ones.

Think about it. It's easier to add, say, 10% to your squat PR than it is to add the same percentage to your leg extension numbers. The reason? Squats engage more muscles, allowing you to leverage more overall strength. This makes them more conducive to progressive overload.

In the grand scheme of things, both compound and isolation exercises have their perks. But for booty-building efficiency, overall strength improvement, and ease of progressive overload, compound exercises shine like a well-oiled dumbbell.

Remember, there's a time and place for both, but compound exercises should be your go-to if your goal is a well-rounded, powerful derriere.


Muscles Worked With Compound Glute Exercises

All aboard the booty anatomy train! It's time to get up close and personal with the trio that makes up our glutes: the gluteus maximus, medius, and gluteus minimus.

Glute anatomy diagram

Understanding these muscles and their roles can give us a leg up (pun intended!) in our quest for the perfect posterior. So, let's put on our explorer hats and start our gluteus adventure, shall we?


Gluteus Maximas

First up, we have the big kahuna, the gluteus maximus. This is the largest and most prominent of the three gluteal muscles. If the Glutes were a rock band, the gluteus maximus would undoubtedly be the lead vocalist, stealing the spotlight most of the time.

But what does it actually do?

The primary role of the gluteus maximus is hip extension [1]. In simpler terms, it increases the angle between your thigh and hip. Picture standing up from a squat or pushing off the ground while sprinting. That's your gluteus maximus hard at work, helping you rise to the occasion, quite literally!

To work this muscle superstar effectively, focus on exercises that involve bringing your leg back behind your body, such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts. Just like the star it is, the gluteus maximus loves a good power move!


Gluteus Medius

Next, on our glute tour, we have the gluteus medius. If the gluteus maximus is the lead vocalist, the medius is the drummer, quietly keeping the beat and lending stability to the band.

Located at the upper portion of the glutes, if you're looking to build the booty shelf, then dont underestimate the importance of working the medius. 

The medius might be smaller than the Maximus, but it's got some vital roles. One is abduction - or moving the leg to the side, away from the body's midline. If you've ever done the clamshell exercise or used the seated abduction machine, you've worked your gluteus medius.

On top of that, the gluteus medius is also a team player in external rotation, which is a fancy way of saying it helps twist your feet outwards. So, any exercise that moves your leg away from the center of your body or rotates it outwards gives your gluteus medius a nice workout.

Remember, every player has a part to perform in the symphony of muscles that is your posterior. And without the steady rhythm of the gluteus medius, the whole performance could fall apart!


Gluteus Minimus

The minimus is like the bass player if our glute band analogy still holds. It might not get the fanfare of the lead vocalist or the drummer, but it plays a vital role in rounding out the sound - or in this case, your posterior.

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the glute muscles, sitting quietly beneath the medius. But don't let its size fool you; it's small but mighty!

Its primary role is to assist the gluteus medius in abduction and external rotation. Yes, you heard it right! These two are like workout buddies, always assisting each other to ensure your movements are smooth and controlled.

So, when you're doing exercises that involve moving your leg away from your body or rotating your leg outwards, your gluteus minimus is in on the action, too. It's like the trusty sidekick, always ready to lend a helping hand...or, in this case, muscle fiber!


Additional Muscles Targeted in Compound Glute Exercises

With the gluteus trio covered, we're not done yet. Several other muscles get in on the action during compound glute exercises.



Known in gym lingo as 'quads,' these are the muscles at the front of your thighs. Like enthusiastic friends, they jump in whenever you're doing squats or lunges. They're primarily responsible for extending the knee, so when you straighten your leg during these exercises, shout out to your hard-working quads!



Flip to the back of your thighs and meet the hamstrings. These muscles are all about flexing your knee and extending your hip, making them key players in deadlifts and hip thrusts. When your hamstring game is strong, you can bet you're adding some serious power to your compound moves.



Don't forget about the little guys down south! Your calves, comprising the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, come into play during compound exercises that involve any form of standing or lifting. You might not feel the burn like you would with a targeted calf raise, but trust us; they're contributing to the party!


Erector Spinae

Last on our tour is the erector spinae muscles. This group of muscles runs along your spine and is crucial for maintaining posture and helping with movements like standing up straight and leaning back. These muscles stabilize your back during compound glute exercises, ensuring your form is on point.

These muscles bring something unique to the table during compound glute exercises, working in harmony to create efficient, powerful, and beneficial movements for your booty and your entire lower body and core. Talk about teamwork!


6 Best Compound Exercises to Build the Glutes

In our pursuit of the perfect peach, we're in luck! A recent Journal of Sports Science and Medicine study gives us some game-changing insights [2].

This research was a systematic review, which is like the crème de la crème of research studies. It's not just one study but an in-depth review of multiple independent studies to synthesise findings. This type of review is the most reliable and credible because it looks at a vast amount of data from a wide range of sources.

In this case, the systematic review investigated findings from 110 independent research studies to understand the best exercises to target the glutes. You heard it right, folks, 110 studies! That's a whole lot of squats, lunges, and hip thrusts!

Blending the insights from this extensive research with our training knowledge, we can confidently present you with the best compound exercises for those glutes. And yes, these are all approved by science and training gurus alike!

But before we go into the specifics of each exercise, let's have a look at a summary of the research findings:

Table of glute exercise activation


  • %MVIC represents the percentage of maximum voluntary isometric contraction, a measure of how hard a muscle works during a particular exercise.

Now that we've met the top contenders in the glute-building arena, let's dive deeper into how to perform each for maximum booty benefits.


Step Ups

Step up exercise to target glutes

Yes, step-ups. They may seem simple, even mundane, but don't let their straightforwardness fool you. This exercise packs a punch for activating and building your glutes. The step-up is not just about taking your body from a lower to a higher plane. It's about engaging your glute muscles, challenging your balance, and strengthening your lower body.

The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine systematic review showed step-ups had an average mean %MVIC of 125.09 ± 55.26. Those numbers are no joke! That's proof they're not to be underestimated when it comes to effective booty-building exercises. If you haven't incorporated them into your booty program yet, it's high time you stepped up your game!

But here's the thing: not all step-ups are created equal. How you perform the exercise matters a ton. So, we've put together a few tips to help you get the most out of this glute-strengthening powerhouse:

  • Keep Your Chest Up: This is key to maintaining good posture throughout the exercise. Looking confident isn't the only reason to keep your chest high. It helps engage the right muscles and, more importantly, protects your back from undue strain.
  • Lead with the Heel: When stepping up, push through your heel rather than your toes. This small shift can ramp up the glute engagement to a whole new level.
  • Don't Rush: Speed isn't the game here. Slow, controlled movements during the upward and downward phases of the step-up are where it's at. In strength training, slower often equals better results.
  • Mix It Up: Feel free to add weights or play around with the height of your step. As long as you're keeping the proper form, these variations can help challenge your muscles in different ways and keep your workouts interesting.

In short, if Step-Ups aren't already a part of your booty program, it's time for a quick re-evaluation. They're effective, versatile, and easy to incorporate into any workout, be it in the gym or your garage gym


Hip Thrusts

Hip thrust exercise example

In 2006, 'The Glute Guy' Bret Contreras gave the fitness world a priceless gift - the hip thrust. Since its inception, this exercise quickly shot to fame and became an essential part of workout routines for those looking to sculpt the perfect booty.

One of the reasons for the popularity of hip thrusts is the ability it gives to maintain tension on the glutes throughout the entire range of motion. This consistent tension is like music to the ears (or, should we say, glutes?) of anyone serious about building muscle.

Another motivating factor for many gym goers is the hip thrust's compatibility with heavy weights. Let's face it; there's something undeniably satisfying about working with heavyweights. It feels like you're conquering the world one rep at a time.

The flexibility of the hip thrust is also a huge plus. You can opt for a barbell or dumbbell hip thrust, but in recent years, new hip thrust machines have hit the market. These offer an extra level of stability, allowing you to focus more on activating the glutes rather than balancing the weight. They're often more comfortable too, but the choice is yours.

Regardless of the method you choose, here are a few tips to ensure you're getting the most from your hip thrusts:

  • Keep Your Chin Tucked and Eyes Forward: This helps to keep your spine neutral and prevents hyperextension of the lower back.
  • Push Through Your Heels: This simple shift ensures optimal glute activation, just like step-ups.
  • Don't Rush the Reps: Slow and controlled wins the race. This isn't the time for a speed competition.
  • Squeeze Those Glutes: At the top of each rep, give your glutes an extra squeeze. Trust us, they'll thank you later (maybe not immediately after the workout, but definitely in the long run).



Squat exercise example

If you've ever set foot in a gym, chances are, you've done a squat or two. Squats don't just build your glutes; they're a comprehensive lower-body workout, hitting your quads, hamstrings, and glutes in one fell swoop.

Squats really shine when it comes to the bottom of the movement. At this point, your glutes are stretched, and this stretch isn't just a feel-good thing. Research indicates that placing tension on muscles in their stretched position provides a unique stimulus for muscle growth. So, those last few inches in your squat descent? They're your golden ticket to booty gains.

Another great thing about squats?

The variety. Numerous variations are available, so you can choose the best one. For instance, Bulgarian split squats are a fantastic variant that gives your glutes a serious workout. For the uninitiated, this involves placing one foot on a bench behind you and squatting with the other leg. It's a balance challenge, strength builder, and glute sculptor all in one.

Before you rush off to try it, here are a few tips to ensure you're getting the most from your squats:

  • Keep Your Knees Aligned: Your knees should be pointing in the same direction as your toes throughout the movement. This helps to prevent unwanted strain on your joints.
  • Don’t Forget Your Core: Keep your core engaged to provide stability and protect your spine.
  • Go as Deep as Comfortably Possible: The deeper the squat, the greater the stretch on the glutes. Just ensure you're maintaining proper form.
  • Try Variations: Don’t be afraid to mix things up. Bulgarian split squats, goblets, and front squats have something unique to offer.



Romanian deadlift for glutes

Deadlifts aren't just about heaving heavy things off the ground. They're a power-packed exercise that can help sculpt your glutes and strengthen your entire body.

Deadlifts are like the buffet of the fitness world, offering a range of variations to suit your taste. There's the traditional deadlift, the sumo deadlift, the single-leg deadlift - the list goes on. The key is to find the variation that suits you best, keeps you engaged, and makes your glutes feel the burn.

One standout in the lineup is the B-stance Romanian Deadlift. This variation emphasises your lower glutes and hamstrings, making it a fantastic tool for building a shapely rear. Plus, the balance and stability required to perform Romanian Deadlifts provide a bonus workout for your core.

Ready to add deadlifts to your booty workout routine? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Maintain a Neutral Spine: This is key to protecting your back. Picture a straight line from your head to your tailbone throughout the lift.
  • Mind Your Grip: Ensure your grip is firm and the bar is close to your body to help you lift more efficiently and safely.
  • Activate Your Glutes: Squeeze your glutes as you lift and thrust your hips forward to ensure maximum glute engagement.
  • Explore Variations: Different deadlifts target different areas. Don't be afraid to switch things up!



Reverse lunge exercise example

Lunges are another top pick for a well-rounded booty-building program. Not only do they target your glutes, but they also engage your quads and hamstrings, making them a potent lower-body exercise. One leg working harder means more activation, which often translates to more gains. So yes, your glutes are definitely getting invited to this party.

One of the best parts about lunges is their versatility. Forward lunges, backward lunges, walking lunges, stationary lunges, deficit lunges, you name it! You can even up the ante by adding weights or increasing your range of motion.

Here are some tips to maximize the benefits of lunges:

  • Maintain an Upright Posture: This isn't just for aesthetics. Keeping your back straight and your chest up ensures you engage the right muscles and protect your lower back.
  • Step Wide: A wider step can increase the involvement of your glutes and hamstrings.
  • Control Your Movement: It's not about speed; it's about control. Lower your body slowly and push back up using the heel of your front foot to maximize muscle engagement.
  • Mix it Up: Don't limit yourself to just one type of lunge. Experiment with different variations to keep your workouts interesting and target your muscles from different angles.


Leg Press

Leg press exercise example

Rounding out our list of the top compound exercises for glute building is the classic leg press. The leg press is often seen as a lower body powerhouse, and rightly so. It targets your glutes, along with your quads and hamstrings. It's like a one-stop shop for all your lower body needs!

What's more, the leg press is friendly to all fitness levels. You can adjust the weight and the foot placement to suit your comfort and goals. And let's not forget the killer pump you get after a set of these!

But, like any other exercise, form, and technique are key. Here are some tips to ensure you're getting the most out of your leg press routine:

  • Adjust Your Foot Placement: Play around with the width and position of your feet on the platform. Generally, a higher and wider stance will emphasize the glutes and hamstrings.
  • Don't Lock Your Knees: Keeping a slight bend in the knees at the top of the movement can help prevent potential knee strain.
  • Press Through Your Heels: Much like the step-ups and squats, pressing through your heels can increase glute engagement.
  • Maintain a Steady Tempo: Resist the temptation to rush through your reps. Slow, controlled movements can enhance muscle activation and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Challenge Yourself: Over time, try to progressively increase the weight or the number of reps to keep your glutes challenged and growing.


Common Mistakes When Performing These Exercises

While these 6 exercises are excellent for building and shaping your glutes, they're not magic bullets. As with other exercises, their effectiveness hinges on proper form and technique. Even a small mistake can affect muscle activation and potentially lead to injuries. So, it's worth highlighting some common mistakes people make when performing these exercises.

  1. Poor Form: This is the big one. Whether it's rounding the back during deadlifts, allowing the knees to cave in during squats, or not fully extending the hips in hip thrusts, poor form can seriously undermine your workout results and even lead to injury.
  2. Going Too Heavy Too Soon: Everyone wants to lift heavy. But starting with more weight than you can handle can compromise your form and lead to potential injuries. Gradually increase the weight as your strength and form improve.
  3. Not Prioritizing the Mind-Muscle Connection: This isn't just some woo-woo fitness lingo. Actively focusing on the muscle you're working (in this case, the glutes) enhances muscle activation and leads to better results.
  4. Ignoring Progressive Overload: Progressive overload involves gradually increasing the demands on your muscles over time. This could be by increasing the weight, performing more reps, or reducing rest time between sets. It's key to continuous muscle growth.
  5. Skipping the Warm-Up: A good warm-up prepares your muscles for the workout and can help prevent injury. Never skip it, no matter how pressed for time you are.

Remember, the goal is to build a stronger, more sculpted booty, not to sideline yourself with an injury. Avoiding these common pitfalls will help you get the most out of your glute workouts safely and effectively.


How to Build the Glutes

Selecting the right exercises to target those glutes is only half the journey to building a booty that even fitness influencers would envy. The other half? It's about considering some vital factors that go beyond the gym floor.

From nourishing your body with the right fuel to the specifics of your training plan, here are the key aspects we need to focus on to ensure our hard work pays off. Whether you're a seasoned gym-goer or making the most of your garage gym, these guidelines apply across the board, so let's get to it!


Eating for Glute Growth

There's a pretty common saying in the fitness world: "Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym." The same goes for the glutes. No matter how perfect your training program is, your muscle-building efforts will largely be in vain if your diet isn't up to par.

To build muscle, you must eat in a calorie surplus. In other words, you must consume more calories than you burn daily. This is not about gorging on junk food but fueling your body with nutrient-dense food to support muscle growth and recovery.

You could be performing the best glute exercises on the planet, following the most optimal booty-building workouts each week, but you will only see the results you want if you eat enough. It's as simple as that.

Check out this article to learn how many calories you must consume daily to achieve your muscle-building goals. Remember that while eating in a calorie surplus is necessary for muscle growth, it also means you might accumulate some body fat.

Before you freak out, remember that this is a normal part of the muscle-building process. However, if you believe your body fat levels are higher than you're comfortable with, you might consider following a fat-loss or "cutting" phase before transitioning into a muscle-building or "bulking" phase.

This way, you'll start your glute-building journey from a lean base, making it easier to monitor your progress and adjust your diet and training as needed.

How much protein to grow glutes

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Training for Glute Growth

While choosing the best exercises to target the glutes is critical, it's just one piece of the puzzle. Here's a summary of the training guidelines that can help you build glutes efficiently:

  1. Choose the Right Exercises: Choose exercises that will challenge the glutes. Exercises like clam shells and glute bridge pulses might be part of your routine, but they alone are insufficient for significant muscle growth.
  2. Stay in the Moderate Rep Range: A 2021 meta-analysis concluded that muscle hypertrophy could be achieved across a wide range of loading zones [3]. However, performing many reps with light weights (say 40 reps at 20% 1RM) can lead to suboptimal hypertrophy. For optimal glute building, stick within the moderate rep range to balance time spent in the gym and risk of injury.
  3. 10-20 Weekly Sets are the Sweet Spot: Meta-analyses suggest that volume and hypertrophy follow an inverted U-shaped curve. The sweet spot is 10-20 sets per muscle, per week, for optimal muscle building. The lower end is sufficient for beginners, while advanced lifters should aim toward the upper end.
  4. Train Glutes Twice a Week: Distribute your weekly sets across two days rather than performing an all-in-one workout. For instance, an intermediate lifter requiring 15 weekly sets for muscle growth should perform 8 sets in one session and 7 sets in another. This is supported by research showing that training a muscle group twice weekly is superior to once weekly.
  5. Focus on Progressive Overload: The principle of progressive overload involves gradually increasing the stress placed on the body during training to stimulate muscle growth continuously. Methods of achieving progressive overload include increasing the number of reps, sets, or the weight lifted, reducing rest times, or switching up exercises.
  6. Vary Exercises, but Not Too Often: Muscles are complex and require a variety of exercises to stimulate all muscle fibers. However, varying exercises too often can hinder progressive overload and compromise muscle tension. Try to keep your workouts similar each week, rotating out isolation exercises more frequently than compound exercises.
  7. Don't Take Every Set to Failure: While training to failure can maximize muscle fiber activation and potentially enhance metabolic stress, it also imposes significant stress on the body and requires longer recovery times. A better approach would be to take some sets to failure, but not all, to balance the additional stimulus with recovery time.

Growing glute equation


Closing Thoughts: Maximizing Glute Development through Compound Exercises

By incorporating compound exercises into your booty program, you unlock the potential to target your glute muscles and simultaneously engage multiple muscle groups in your lower body and core. This holistic approach yields impressive results and transforms your workouts into efficient and effective sessions.

Remember, mastering the six essential compound exercises we've covered - Step Ups, Hip Thrusts, Squats, Deadlifts, Lunges, and Leg Press - can take your booty game to new heights.

Avoid common mistakes, nourish your body properly, and commit to a well-rounded training regimen. With dedication and consistency, you'll be well on your way to achieving the strong, sculpted glutes you desire.

So, lace up your sneakers, embrace the burn, and embark on your journey toward a booty that looks great and empowers you in every aspect of your life. It's time to unlock the full potential of your glutes and unleash the power within. Get ready to rock your favorite pair of jeans like never before!



  1. Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Van Every, D. W., & Plotkin, D. L. (2021). Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum. Sports, 9(2), 32.
  2. Neto, W. K. (2020, March 1). Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. PubMed Central (PMC). 
  3. Fitzgerald, C. M., & Hynes, C. K. (2009). FEMALE PERINEAL/PELVIC PAIN: THE REHABILITATION APPROACH. In Elsevier eBooks (pp. 227–233).


Thomas D
Thomas D


Thomas is a dedicated fitness enthusiast with over 12 years of experience in the gym. As a level 2 qualified gym instructor, he combines his passion for working out and nutrition to help others achieve their fitness goals. Thomas stays up to date with the latest fitness research and follows the work of top experts in the field. With a balance of textbook knowledge and real-life experience, he provides practical guidance to help others reach their full potential.

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