For one reason or another, getting to the gym may not be an option for us. Family commitments and work responsibilities may not allow for enough time to travel to the gym, and if the gym is not local it makes things even more difficult.
But we still want to be able to build a butt to be proud of. So we’re left with the question, Can we build the glutes at home!?
We’re not going to keep you waiting for an answer. You can most definitely build the glutes from the comfort of your own home. As a matter of fact, you can build any muscle at home.
Today we’ll be discussing how we go about adding inches to your butt without having to leave the house.
It doesn’t matter where you workout, whether it’s the gym or your own home, the muscle-building principles remain the same wherever you are. The 2 main muscle-building principles that play the biggest part in your muscle-building journey are progressive overload and eating a muscle-building diet.
Progressive overload simply means making your workout harder over time. You see, our body is adaptive in nature. When you introduce a new stimulus to it (ie. working out) your body will adapt to be able to handle the new stimulus that was introduced.
That adaptation comes in the form of building muscle and getting stronger.
But, if you don’t continually make the workout more difficult, once the body has adapted to the initial stimulus, there is no longer a reason for the body to continually adapt so it remains the same.
What we need to be doing instead is continually pushing our body’s boundaries to force continued adaptation resulting in ongoing progress.
There are many ways to implement progressive overload. These include:
The most common way of implementing progressive overload is the last point we mentioned ‘Increasing the resistance’. The reason is that it’s easy to track, strength has a close correlation to muscle size and it’s motivating to see our numbers increase, heck – who doesn’t want to get stronger!?
Simply record your workouts and try and improve on them the following week.
On the other hand, if we have limited equipment at home, simply increasing the resistance may not be an option for us if we don’t have heavier weights to use. In this instance, we should opt for a different method to implement progressive overload. Increasing the reps or reducing our rest times is a great way to make our workouts more intense and force the body into new growth.
To build muscle, you must be eating in a way that facilitates muscle growth. That is, the calorie surplus.
A calorie surplus means that you’re eating more calories than you burn daily. And this is critical for muscle growth. Even if you’re working out in the most optimum way to promote muscle growth – if you’re not eating in a calorie surplus then you will simply not build muscle.
Eating in a calorie surplus of between 200-500 calories each day should yield muscle gains of roughly 0.5lbs/0.25kg each week. Keeping track of the scales and taking pictures is a great way to keep track of progress.
If you’re gaining more than this each week then it’s likely you’re overeating which will result in adding unwanted body fat to your frame. And if you’re not achieving these weekly increases then it’s likely you’re not eating enough.
While keeping track of the scales and monitoring progress pictures is a sound approach, there is the option to take things to the next level if you’re really serious about muscle building. To give us the best chance of building muscle whilst minimising fat gain, we should track our calories.
Tracking our calories will mean we can accurately eat the 200-500 additional calories every day, eliminating all guesswork. Start by working out how many calories we need each day to remain at the same weight (maintenance calories). From here, start by adding 200 calories each day to work towards the weekly muscle increase target of 0.5lbs/0.25kg. If you’re falling short of the target, go up in increments of 100 calories until you get to the desired weekly muscle gain.
Our popular article ‘How many calories do I need when bulking’ (don’t worry, bulking is just a term that means a muscle-building phase) will help you work out how much you should be eating, along with calculating how many of your calories should be made up from protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Now we’ve covered the underlying muscle-building principles, let’s dive into the best home glute exercises that bring you the most bang for your buck.
We appreciate you’re working out from home, and you may not have much gym equipment (if any!) so we have tried to include bodyweight exercises that require little to no equipment. We have also included the weighted version of the exercise for those who have the equipment, or who have the budget and are looking to purchase the equipment to aid them with their muscle-building journey.
While body exercises are great for beginners and even intermediate lifters, there comes a time when they’ll need to be upgraded to the weighted variant to remain effective.
You see, to build muscle you need to be taking your sets close to failure (the point where you can’t do any additional reps in that set). Stopping your sets 1-2 reps before a failure will provide enough mechanical tension on the muscles to promote muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth). It’s therefore considered that the optimum muscle-building rep range is between 6-20 reps.
Using the first exercise from our list, the ‘Squat’, if over the course of a few months we’ve been doing bodyweight squats, we may have built up enough strength that we can now perform 20/30/40 reps. While this is awesome and shows that we’ve been progressing well – it probably isn’t the most optimum approach for muscle building. Doing so many reps isn’t likely to provide the mechanical tension required to stimulate the most muscle hypertrophy. A better approach would be to start utilising weighted squats and go back to the 6-20 rep range.
The same story applies to the majority of exercises we talk about. Starting off you’ll be fine, as it’s likely you won’t be able to do lots of reps straight away. But when you’ve built the strength that enables you to do multiple reps – it’s probably time to upgrade.
Squats are known as the king of exercises, and rightly so. They are a great compound exercise that targets every muscle in the lower body including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
As you go down deep into the squat you’re putting the glutes in a stretched position. The glutes will be forced to work hard to propel yourself upwards back to the starting position.
Working muscles in a stretched position have been found to have positive effects on muscle hypertrophy. The ability to load the glutes in the stretched position is one of the reasons the squat exercise is a staple in many glute-building programs.
If you’re new to the exercise, then bodyweight squats should be enough. As with all new exercises, focus on mastering the form before you begin to add any resistance.
How to (Bodyweight):
Once you’re happy with your form and you can comfortably perform 20 bodyweight squats, it’s time to add some resistance. As we mentioned in the sections above; progression is key for muscle building, and building strength is correlated with building size.
We therefore recommend either purchasing a barbell or a set of adjustable dumbbells. Either of these 2 pieces of equipment are a key component throughout the exercises we have listed, and getting your hands on one of them can really help level up your glute progression.
Barbell and weights:
The barbell allows you to work with heavier weights whereas the dumbbells arguably allow you to perform a wider range of exercises – so the decision is all yours!
The hip thrust has become hugely popular over the last 5 years and is the go-to exercise for many people on the quest to grow the butt. Invented in 2006 by glute expert Bret Contreras, this amazing exercise elicits high glute activation without the need to load the spine.
The primary role of the glutes is glute extension (increasing the angle between the hips and the thigh) and that’s exactly what this exercise does – with the load acting directly against the glutes.
Again, if we haven’t tried this exercise before then we’re going to want to start just using our body weight. For this exercise we’ll need a platform roughly knee height – the sofa could work well.
How to (Bodyweight):
Once you’ve mastered the form and can do 20 reps without failing, then it’s time to use some weight. Similarly to the squat, this exercise can be done with both a barbell and a dumbbell.
Simply place the resistance across your hips and perform the movement just as before, but use your hands to stabilise the weight.
Lunges are another awesome exercise that not only targets the glutes but activates the quads, hamstrings and calves. Unlike the squat and hip thrust, the lunge is a unilateral exercise that can help develop single-leg strength and iron out any muscle imbalances. The unilateral nature of the exercise will mean that the sometimes neglected gluteus medius and minimus will play a leading role in stabilising the hip and for helping with our balance.
Another reason why the lunge is such a fantastic exercise is that there are several different variations that all slightly target our muscles in different ways. For glutes though, we recommend the reverse lunge for adding size to the rear.
How to (Bodyweight):
Again, when it’s time to start adding resistance – the barbell and dumbbells can be utilised. Either place the barbell acorss your back (like you would do in a weighted squat) or hold a dumbbell in each hand.
Simple, yet extremely effective. You probably haven’t considered the step-up as an important exercise in your glute-building journey, but we’re here to tell you that you should. A study was conducted in 2020 to look at the glute activation of all the popular glute exercises including squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, lunges and step-ups. Surprisingly, the step-up came up triumphant and elicited the highest amount of glute activation.
Whilst glute activation doesn’t directly correspond to glute hypertrophy, studies have found that the 2 are linked. So if an exercise like this can efficiently activate the target muscle, then performing the exercise will bode well for muscle growth.
Once you’re comfortable doing bodyweight reps, introduce a dumbbell into both hands.
How to (Bodyweight):
Not only are the Bulgarian split squats brilliant for targeting the quads, but they’re a killer glute exercise too. Raising the rear foot off of the ground allows for an increased range of motion to further put the glutes into that beneficial stretched position. The glutes are called on for hip extension to get you ‘out of the hole’ and back to the starting position.
The Bulgarian split squat is also a unilateral exercise that can help build single-leg strength and aid in increasing athletic performance.
Similar to the step-up, you’ll need a platform for this exercise (conveniently the sofa is a great option here too. This exercise is slightly more advanced so you may be performing it for several months before you can progress onto the weighted alternatives.
How to (Bodyweight):
If you’ve watched people training their glutes before, it’s more than likely you’ve come across the donkey kick. As the name suggests, the exercise involves getting on all fours and kicking the leg up behind you like a donkey (okay we don’t exactly kick it up, but you get the gist).
The donkey kick is one of the best exercises at isolating the glutes as it is the exact movement that the gluteus maximas is responsible for (glute extension). The exercise is easily adaptable making it the perfect exercise for beginners through to seasoned lifters.
The bonus to this exercise is that you don’t need any equipment – literally none! Saying that, you may find an exercise mat beneficial to avoid hurting your knees while you’re kneeling on the floor, but if you’ve got a thick carpet – you’re probably good to go!
How to (Bodyweight):
Once you've mastered the technique and can comfortbaly do 20 or so reps, then we can upgrade the exercise to the weighted version. Simply place the dumbbell inbetween the crease of your hamstring and calf and perfom the exercise as normal.
Slightly more complex, but well worth the additional learning time. The reverse hyper extension is a great exercise that targets the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. This powerful glute builder allows you to effectively target the glutes without loading your joints. If you’re recovering from an injury, or if you’re looking for a less impactful exercise to give your joints a break – then the reverse hyper extension is for you.
As you can see from the image, you will need some kind of platform. While a weights bench is probably your best bet, other pieces of furniture can be utilised – we’ve tried them out of a sofa pouffe and it was the perfect tool for the job!
As you know, the key to building muscle is progressive overload – hence the reason we give ways to make each exercise progressively harder. Once we’ve mastered the body weight hyper extension, we can increase the resistance by holding a dumbbell between our feet. Note, a dumbbell may look light, but it won’t feel light when performing this exercise!
How to (Bodyweight):
The previous 7 exercises have been focused on building the gluteus maximas. It’s a logical approach to focus our efforts mainly on the gluteus maximas because it’s the largest of the 3 glute muscles and is responsible for the majority of the shape of the butt.
But we mustn’t neglect the gluteus medius and minimus. These 2 muscles are located towards the sides of the buttocks and are responsible for glute abduction (moving the leg outwards away from the midline of the body).
That’s why the banded sidewalks have made our list. Again, this is an exercise that requires limited equipment, all you need is a resistance band which you can pick up relatively cheaply, and some space to walk side to side.
The banded side walks are a great way to strengthen the medius and build the upper glutes. The constant tension from the resistance band is ideal for increasing glute activation and provides a unique muscle-building stimulus.
For the best benefits, we recommend performing the compound exercises (exercises 1-7) earlier on in your workout and leaving these last 2 exercises for the end of your workouts. That’s because the compound exercises require more energy to perform, whereas these last 2 exercises don’t require as much from your body.
If you haven't already got a set of resistance bands, we highly recommend the set below. Start with the lightest resistance and build your way up over the coming months.
Similar to Banded side walks, the seated glute abduction also targets the gluteus medius. For that reason it’s not necessary to do them both – just try them both and stick with the one you prefer.
While the Banded side walks target one side of the glutes at a time, the seated glute abduction targets them both together. In that respect, if you’re restricted by time then the seated glute abduction is more efficient.
Likewise, the seated glute abduction is a great finishing exercise to perform towards the end of the workout when you’re not feeling as fresh. This powerful exercise will set your glutes on fire, breaking down muscle fibres which can have positive effects on the muscle-building process.
The progression to this exercise is to by working through the different tension resistance bands. Start of with the light band, and once you hit your desrired rep range, move onto the medium, and then to the strong.
To reiterate what we said at the start of the article; you don’t have to workout at a gym to build muscle, you can most definitely build your dream butt from the comfort of your own home.
If you can take 2 things away from this article, remember this: Progressive overload & Muscle building diet will put you in good stead for building the derrière you’ve dreamt of.We hope we’ve been able to answer all the questions you had regarding how to train the glutes at home. Remember, like any muscle, building the glutes takes time – it doesn’t happen overnight. Stay dedicated, remember the important muscle-building principles and you’ll see results in no time.