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9 Best Lower Glute Exercises to Build the Underbutt

November 21, 2022

Best Lower Glute Exercises to Build the Underbutt header

Building the glutes, including the underbutt is a goal high on the agenda for many gym goers. And rightly so, a well-toned underbutt can get the booty poppin’ and transform the look of your derriere.

To target the underbutt, we need to be looking in the direction of the lower glutes and the hamstrings.

But how can we effectively build them? With there being so much conflicting information online, it’s hard to know which training plan you should follow.

Luckily for you, we’ve uncovered the best exercises you can add to your routine today to start building that underbutt.

Table of Contents
What is the underbutt?
Butt anatomy
Can you target the lower glutes?
Lower glute exercises
Underbutt workouts
How to build the underbutt

 

 

What is the underbutt

The underbutt, as the name suggests, is that area underneath your butt where your glutes meet your hamstrings, sometimes called the glute-ham tie-in.

What is the underbutt?

There isn’t another muscle here, it’s just where the two muscles meet and form the sought after ‘crease’.

Typically speaking, the larger the glutes, the larger the crease.

Genetics also have a say in how this area looks. They control your muscle insertions and decide where to store fat– so they can either work for you, or against you.   

Either way, building up the glutes and toning the hamstrings is the path we need to take to build the underbutt region.  

 

Butt anatomy

The glute region is made up of 3 muscles. The below picture can help visualise where each of them are.

Gluteus Maximas

The gluteus maximas is the largest of the 3 and is the muscle closest to the surface. Being the largest, it is responsible for most of the shape of the bum.

The main role of the maximas is hip extension, ie. Opening up the hip joint so that the angle between the pelvis and thigh increases. But also aids in abduction, and external rotation.

Gluteus Medius

The gluteus medius is the 2nd largest of the 3 muscles, and is located underneath and above the maximas, at the sides of the upper buttocks.

The main role of the medius is abduction i.e. Moving the thigh out toward the sides away from the centre line of the body. It also aids in hip external rotation i.e. pointing the toes outwards.

Gluteus Minimus

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the 3 and is located underneath the medius, deep in the posterior hip region. The role of the minimus is to aid with abduction and external rotation.

 

Can you target the lower Glutes

As you can see from the anatomy, the lower glutes are made up of a single muscle, the gluteus maximas.

Right now, you’re probably thinking it’s not possible to target different portions of the glutes because it's only 1 large muscle, and that we’ve probably got to target them as a whole.

Well, yes and no.

You see, studies have shown that the gluteus maximas can be split up into 2 main portions, the superior and the inferior.

Superior refers to the upper glutes and inferior refers to the lower glutes.

Superior and Inferior Glute Portions

A study published in the Physical Therapy Journal [1] documented the superior (upper) portion of the glutes is better suited for exercises that involve hip abduction (similar to the gluteus medius), while the inferior (lower) portion is better suited to exercises that involve hip extension.

Results from a more recent 2016 study can help test this theory [2]. The study took 20 individuals and had them complete 11 different glute exercises. During each exercise, they tested the activation of both the superior and inferior portions of the glutes. The data indicated that the superior portion of the glutes was active during abduction and extension exercises whereas the inferior portion of the glutes was better activated during only extension-based exercises.

Knowing this, we can keep our focus on hip extension-based exercises to grow the lower glutes.

 

Best Lower Glute Exercises

Let’s take a look at the best exercises to target the lower glutes.

Hip Thrust

Having learned that the best way to target the lower glutes is by performing exercises that involve hip extension, we have to put the Hip thrust at the top of the list.

The Hip Thrust exercise is entirely hip extension. It’s a great exercise that targets the exact area we want to be targeting.

Hip thrust for glutes

How to:

  • Sit on the ground in front of a bench and rest your shoulder blades against the bench
  • With your legs flat on the ground, roll a loaded barbell over your shins up to the pelvis position (a squad pad will be necessary)
  • With both hands placed onto the bar to hold it in position, bring your heels closer to the buttocks (the distance will be trial and error, try different positions and use the position where you can feel your glutes doing the majority of the work)
  • Driving through the heels, and with the shoulder blades on the bench, push to move the pelvis towards the ceiling
  • Once your back and hamstrings form a straight line you have reached the top of the movement. Lower the weight to the starting position.

 

Glute Cable Pull-Through

Not everyone gets on with the hip thrust. Issues such as back pain, not feeling comfortable with the bar across the hips, and having difficulty engaging the glutes over other leg muscles are some of the problems people face. If that’s you, it’s a good idea to turn to a brilliant hip thrust alternative like the cable pull through.

The movement is very similar to the hip thrust, but you’ll be performing the exercises stood as opposed to on the floor, and you’ll utilise the cables rather than the barbell.

Cable pull through exercise example for glutes

How to:

  • Set up the machine so that the cable originates from the lowest position
  • Facing away from the machine, pass the cable between the legs and hold the rope attachment with a neutral grip
  • Walk forward a few steps until you feel tension on the rope
  • The starting position is standing upright, feet shoulder-width apart and feet pointing forward
  • Slightly bend the knees, and keeping a straight back, hinge at the hips and lower your chest towards the floor, letting the cable pass between your legs
  • When you feel a stretch on the glutes, contract the muscle and return to the starting position
  • At the top of the movement, squeeze the glutes hard to feel the contraction.

 

Step Ups

You may not have thought about including step-ups in your glute workouts, and we don’t blame you – the simple nature of the exercise can easily fool us into thinking it’s not that great.

You therefore may be surprised to learn that the results of a 2020 study comparing glute activation across 10 different exercises found step-ups taking the top spot – take a look at the chart.

Step up for lower glutes activation chart

For that reason, we recommend including them in your glute training.

Lower glute exercises - Step Ups example

How to:

  • Stand in front of a platform roughly knee height, with a dumbbell in one hand
  • Leading with the opposite side leg as the hand holding the dumbbell, step onto the platform
  • Bring up the other leg and stand on the platform
  • Step down off of the platform leading with the leg that was last to arrive

 

Single Leg Cable Glute Kickback

The single leg cable glute kickback is another awesome exercise to isolate the lower glutes. Being a cable based exercise, it offers a different resistance profile to free weights which can help force the muscle into new growth.

Lower glute exercises - Glute cable kickback

How to:

  • Set up the cable machine so that the cable originates from the bottom. Attached the single leg attachment
  • Strap in the ankle and while facing the machine, take a step backward until you can feel the tension in the cable
  • Lean forward and hold onto the machine. Slightly bend the knees
  • Keeping your opposite foot flat on the floor, contract the glutes and push the leg backward
  • The top of the movement will be when the hamstrings and back align, once you reach this you can return to the starting position

 

Smith Machine Kneeling Hip-Thrust

If you’re relatively new to glute training, this exercise is for you. Performing the exercise on the smith machine provides a high level of stability so that you don’t have to worry about balance, you can focus on the glute mind muscle connection.

How to:

  • Bring the smith machine bar down to an appropriate height so that when you’re on your knees you can rest it on your back
  • Place a matt on the floor underneath the bar to protect your knees
  • Kneel on the mat and rest the bar on your upper back. Place your hands on the bar.
  • Unhook the bar and contract the glutes to raise the hips
  • The top of the position is when the back and hamstrings are aligned
  • Slowly drop the hips until the glutes touch your feet. Repeat the movement

 

Reverse Barbell Lunge

You may think the barbell lunge is an exercise that primarily targets the quads, and you’d be right – but you’d be thinking about the traditional forward lunge. The benefit of the reverse lunge is that it shifts the emphasis from the quads to more of the glutes and hamstrings.

It’s an awesome compound exercise that can help iron out any muscle imbalances due to its unilateral nature.

Underbutt exercises - Reverse barbell lunge

 How to:

  • Set up the barbell as you would when doing squats (shoulder height).
  • Again, the same as you would when doing squats, get under the barbell with a strong base and lift the bar off the racks
  • Slowly step backward away from the rack so you have enough room to perform the exercise without colliding with it
  • With your feet shoulder width apart, lift one foot off the floor and lunge backward as far as you comfortably can
  • Bend the leading leg and drop the hips toward the floor
  • When you feel a stretch in the glutes and quads you have reached the bottom of the movement
  • Push through the heel of the front leg, and return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.

 

Bulgarian Split Squats

The Bulgarian split squats are not for the faint hearted. This advanced exercise is a compound movement that effectively targets the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Similarly to the reverse barbell lunge, the unilateral element of this exercise can help iron out any muscle imbalances and recruits additional muscles needed for balance.

Underbutt exercises - Bulgarian Split Squats

How to:

  • Set up a bench and stand roughly 2 feet in front of it (find a position that suits you)
  • Pick up one foot and place it on the bench behind you. Finding a comfortable foot position on the bench can be trial and error. Regain your balance.
  • Slowly drop your hips towards the floor putting the pressure through the front foot and using the rear foot for balance
  • Once you feel a stretch in your glutes and quads you have reached the bottom of the movement. Contract the muscles to return to the starting position.
  • Swap legs once you have completed the desired number of reps.

 

As we know, to build the underbutt our primary focus needs to be on the lower glutes. But, we mustn’t neglect the hamstrings – these need to be strong and toned for the ultimate glute ham tie-in look.
The following exercises, therefore, focus on the glutes and hamstrings.

 

Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is an excellent exercise that can simultaneously target the glutes and the hamstrings (the two muscles responsible for the underbutt). Targeting the hamstrings due to the fixed knee position and targeting the glutes due to hinging at the hip – this exercise does everything we need it to do.

Lower Glute Exercises - Romanian Deadlift

How to:

  • Set up a barbell as you would when doing a traditional deadlift
  • Stand with the feet underneath the barbell adopting a shoulder width stance
  • Maintaining a straight back, bend down and lift the bar and return to the standing position with the bar in your hands
  • Hinge at the hip, pushing the hips backward and maintaining a flat back. As you do this, your knees will naturally start to bend
  • Lower the bar to just below the knees (or wherever you feel a stretch of the glutes and the hamstrings)
  • Once you feel the stretch, contract the muscles to return to the starting position.

 

Glute Ham Developer

As the name suggests, the Glute ham developer develops the glutes and the hamstrings – ta-da!

If you’re lucky enough to have this machine in your gym, you should be using it to build the underbutt.

You’ll also give the lower back some well-earned rest as this exercise doesn’t involve loading the spine like some of the other popular glute exercises.

Lower glute exercises - Glute Ham Developer

How to:

  • Adjust the machine so that your quads rest on the pad and your feet are flat on the base
  • Get into position with your feet flat on the base and quads on the pad. Let the upper body fall toward the floor
  • Contract the glutes and the hamstrings to move your upper toward the ceiling
  • Once your back and hamstrings are aligned, you have reached the top of the movement, slowly return to the starting position

 

Underbutt Workouts

As many of the lower glute exercises also target the quads, it makes sense to combine our glute training with our leg training and complete them both in one session.

We recommend training glutes/legs twice a week. We have therefore devised 2 different sessions with the focus being on building up the lower glutes.

 

Lower Glute Training Workout A

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Hip Thrusts

4

8

Bulgarian Split Squats

4

10 Each leg

Romanian Deadlift

4

10

Glute Cable Pull Through

3

12 Each leg

Smith Machine Kneeling Hip Thrust

3

15

 

Lower Glute Training Workout B

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Reverse Barbell Lunge

4

8 Each leg

Step Ups

4

10 Each leg

Single Leg Glute Kickback

4

12 Each leg

Glute Ham Developer

3

12

Smith machine kneeling hip thrust

3

15 Each Leg

 

 

How to build the underbutt

So we know how to target the underbutt, what exercises are best for targeting the underbutt, and we’ve got some underbutt workouts, but how can we ensure we maximise our progress?

Progressive Overload

To progress in the world of lifting, whether that’s getting stronger or in our case building muscle, we need to be applying a training principle called progressive overload.

Progressive overload is when we increase the stimulus placed upon a muscle over time to force the muscle to continually adapt. If we didn’t do this and kept the stimulus the same, then the body will see no reason to change and will therefore remain the same.  

We can apply progressive overload in many ways such as:

  • Increasing sets
  • Increasing reps
  • Reducing rest times
  • Increasing weekly volume

But the far most common method is by increasing the resistance. With strength and size closely correlated, if we can get stronger, then it’s likely we’re building muscle.

 

Diet

We first must decide whether we’re in a position to build muscle, or whether we want to lose fat first.

If our body fat % is fairly high, it may be worth losing weight before trying to build muscle. This is so that when we do build the muscle, we can actually notice it and it’s not lost under a layer of fat. Additionally, when building muscle, we’re inevitably going to put on some fat, so if our fat % is high already – we don’t want to increase it further.

To lose fat, we need to be eating fewer calories than we burn daily. On the other hand, if we’re looking to build muscle, we need to be eating more calories than we burn daily. Check out either of the following articles based on you’re training goals.

 

Consistency

Both losing fat and building muscle take time, we can’t expect results overnight. We need to be consistent in both the gym and the kitchen for a couple of months before we can see results.

Having a training partner can help with this, or if you’re on a calorie counting app then join their communities – you can meet like minded people and motivate each other along your journeys.

 

Glute Activation

Many of us spend a large portion of our day sitting down. Whether this is sitting down at a desk at work or relaxing at home, being in this position for so long can result in weak and relaxed glutes.

As a result, we need to thoroughly warm up the glutes before any workout to ensure they are activated and firing properly, ready to handle the resistance used in our workouts.

If we don’t activate the glutes correctly, we could see other muscles overcompensating to try and take the load off the glutes and we’ll be at risk of picking up an injury.

Our favourite glute activation exercises are:

Clam shells

 Clam shells for glute activation

Seated Abduction

Seated abduction for glute activation

Glute Bridges

Glute bridge for glute activation

Stairmaster

Stairmaster for glute activation

If you don't already have any resistance bands, we would recommend getting some of the following: 

Resistance bands for glute activation

Check Price Here

 

Final Thoughts

Building the underbutt IS possible. We’ll need to utilise the best exercises, implement the basic muscle building principles, and stay consistent.

We hope that you can implement the ideas and exercises discussed in this article into your training to build the underbutt you desire.

As always, happy training! If you have any questions, drop them down in the comments and we’ll respond as soon as we can.

 9 Best Lower Glute Exercises Pin

 

References

[1]. Kathryn Lyons, Jacquelin Perry, Joanne K. Gronley, Lee Barnes, Dan Antonelli, Timing and Relative Intensity of Hip Extensor and Abductor Muscle Action During Level and Stair Ambulation: An EMG Study, Physical Therapy, Volume 63, Issue 10, 1 October 1983, Pages 1597–1605, https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/63.10.1597

[2] Selkowitz, D. M., Beneck, G. J., & Powers, C. M. (2016). Comparison of Electromyographic Activity of the Superior and Inferior Portions of the Gluteus Maximus Muscle During Common Therapeutic Exercises. The Journal of orthopaedic and sports physical therapy46(9), 794–799. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2016.6493

[3]. Neto, W. K., Soares, E. G., Vieira, T. L., Aguiar, R., Chola, T. A., Sampaio, V. L., & Gama, E. F. (2020). Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. Journal of sports science & medicine19(1), 195–203.


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