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7 Best Deadlifts for Glutes: Level Up The Booty Building

February 07, 2024

Best deadlifts for glutes article header image

Deadlifting is one of the best exercises you can do when toning, strengthening and increasing the size of your glutes. It works all the muscles in your lower body, particularly targeting your glutes.

Whether you're a beginner or an advanced lifter this powerful move has plenty of different variations. To help you get the most out of your glute training, we've rounded up 7 of the best deadlifts for glutes to get you started.

But, before we dive into the different variations, let's first understand what a deadlift is and how to do it properly (this is for those of you who are new to deadlifting).

Table of Contents
What is a deadlift
7 Best deadlifts for glutes explained
Do deadlifts grow glutes


What is a Deadlift?

A deadlift is a compound exercise. What is a compound exercise? Well, it’s an exercise that recruits many muscle groups, not just one. This is why it’s such a great choice for building and sculpting the lower body, especially your glutes.

There are various ways you can do this exercise. While the variations are slightly different, they all involve a hip-hinging movement – meaning bending at the hips and leaning forwards while keeping the back straight and core braced.

The traditional deadlift starts with the barbell on the floor. You take up a position with the feet under the bar and the shins nearly touching the bar. Bending at the knees and hinging at the hips, you grab the bar with both hands, keeping the arms fully extended, shoulders retracted and back nice and straight. Using the legs to initiate the movement, push through the heels so that the bar rises off the floor. Once the weights have risen from the floor, continue to use the leg drive to push upwards, but also start to extend the hips so that you move towards the standing position. Once you’re stood up, slowly reverse the movement so that the bar returns to the floor.

While deadlifting is a great exercise that can help strengthen the entire body, it’s not an easy lift. It requires a great deal of coordination and complete body strength.

If you’re new to the exercises, we can’t stress enough the importance of proper form. Start with light weights (the bar is often enough to start with), and only once you have mastered the form should you begin to add more weight to the bar.

Don’t fall into the trap of ego-lifting to impress people. You’ll end up injuring yourself, and the seasoned lifters amongst us won’t be impressed with your improper lifting technique.

Now we’ve covered the basics, let's dive into the 7 different variations you can do to help shape and strengthen your glutes.


7 Best Deadlifts for glutes

1. Conventional Deadlift

Starting the list with the most common deadlift, the one most people think of when they hear the word “deadlift” — the Conventional. It’s a great move for building overall strength, and it’s a great exercise that effectively targets the glutes.

The conventional deadlift is one of the ultimate compound exercises that engages your entire posterior chain muscles, including all those on the back of your legs and back. This full-body move will not only help you to gain strength but also provide a means to build muscle efficiently.

This exercise is ideal for engaging multiple muscle groups because of the alternating hip and knee flexes required to complete each repetition.

Your arms and back will also be put to the test as you lift a barbell loaded with weight. Because deadlifts are such an intense activity, we reiterate: proper form is essential for avoiding injury.


2. Romanian Deadlift

Romanian deadlift exercise example

The Romanian deadlift is a great variation of the conventional deadlift. The fact that you don’t purposely flex the knees means that the quads are not heavily involved in the movement. As a result, the force is produced from the posterior chain muscles including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

The main role of the glutes is glute extension, ie. increasing the angle between the hips and the thigh. This is the exact movement that is required to get you from the bottom of the movement, back to the starting position. Consequently, the glutes will be the muscle that’s called upon to do the heavy lifting.   

The Romanian deadlift is undoubtedly one of the most efficient exercises for your glutes and hamstrings. It allows you to target these muscles with heavy weights, resulting in strength gains and muscle growth. Additionally, this powerful movement will help enhance your hip mobility and increase your ability to perform a proper hip-hinge motion.


3. Stiff Leg Deadlift

Also known as the straight-leg deadlift, the stiff-leg deadlift targets your glutes and hamstrings in a slightly different way than the conventional or Romanian deadlifts. This variation is great for those looking to increase the range of motion in their hips and glutes.

In this study (1) that compares the glute activation of the Romanian deadlift, stiff-leg deadlift, and Step Romanian deadlift, it was found that the stiff-leg deadlift had the highest levels of gluteus maximus activation. This means it's an excellent move for building strength and sculpting your glutes.

Unlike the conventional deadlift, the stiff leg variation requires you to keep your knees only slightly bent throughout the movement. This allows for a larger range of motion for the glutes which helps to increase glute activation. To get the most out of the exercise, you must keep your back flat and abs engaged to ensure proper form and prevent unwanted injuries.


4. B Stance RDL

B stance RDL

Similar to the RDL, but instead of opting for a neutral shoulder-width foot position – you adopt a split stance, with the front leg bearing most of the weight and being used as the working leg while your back leg helps with balancing.

The B-stance is an ideal deadlift variation for those who find the single-leg deadlift too difficult, but would still like to incorporate unilateral exercises into their routine.

Although your back leg is involved in the movement, the B-stance deadlift is a unilateral exercise that works the body one side at a time, can help iron out any muscle imbalances and helps to improve single-leg strength. 

This movement is one of the most effective ways to target the glutes and hamstrings as it challenges your balance, stability, and coordination. It is also a great exercise to increase hip mobility and stability.


5. Deficit Deadlift

Any deadlift variation can be adapted so that it becomes a deficit deadlift, but today we’ll be looking at the 2 most common: The Deficit Conventional Deadlift and the Deficit Romanian Deadlift.

The deficit is made by standing on an elevated surface, such as a plate or a box, while keeping the barbell on the floor. This increases the range of motion (if flexible enough to perform) as it means you can lower yourself to depths that were once restricted by the floor.

This additional range of motion makes the exercise more challenging and allows for greater glute and hamstring recruitment.

A 2022 (2) study was conducted that compared the glute activation of a normal Romanian Deadlift to the Deficit Romanian Deadlift from a step. They found that the deadlift from a step activated the glutes to a higher degree, making the deficit deadlift an effective exercise if your flexibility allows for it.

The deficit deadlift is often used in powerlifting and other strength-training programs to help build muscle and increase strength. It’s a form of progressive overload that allows you to make the exercise a lot harder while keeping the weights the same.

Before incorporating this advanced deadlift variation into your glutes training, you must have a well-rounded understanding of the conventional version to perform it correctly. To ensure safety, use a lighter weight and focus on form rather than lifting heavy.

Plus, only create a deficit if you’re actually going to use it. There’s no point standing on a step and then not lowering the weight past the bottom of your feet – you may as well perform a normal deadlift from the floor.

And if you’re flexibility doesn’t allow you to pass below your feet, that’s completely fine – just stick to flat deadlift variations and focus on getting stronger in your chosen variation, that’s how progress will be made both in terms of strength and aesthetics.


6. Sumo Stance Deadlift

Sumo deadlift exercise

Similar to conventional but with a wide stance, the sumo stance deadlift activates the glutes and hamstrings while also targeting your inner thighs and adductors.

The wider stance puts less strain on your lower back, making it a great deadlift variation for those with lower back pain, or for those looking to give the lower back a break.

Furthermore, the wider stance shifts more of the weight onto your legs, making it a great exercise for anyone looking to build strength and muscle in their glutes, hamstrings and quads.

To properly perform the sumo deadlift, it's important to keep your torso upright and chest up throughout the entire movement. This will help ensure you activate the right muscles and protect your lower back from injury.


7. Trap Bar Deadlift

Trap bar deadlift exercise

Deadlift using a trap bar (aka hex bar) is one of the safest and most effective exercises when it comes to building strength and muscle in your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

The trap bar deadlift also takes some of the strain off your lower back since it places the weight at shoulder level and at the side of the body, allowing you to keep your torso upright throughout the entire movement. This exercise is ideal for those new to deadlifting as it is easier on your body and allows you to lift heavier weights.

For the trap bar deadlift, use a weight that is challenging but still allows you to perform the exercise correctly. Make sure to keep your core tight, chest up, and shoulders back throughout the entire movement.

The Trap bar deadlift is the variation that targets the quads the most out of the 7 we’ve listed. The exercise pattern is very similar to a squat, but the weight is not sitting on your back, it’s in your hands. That’s not to say it’s not a great exercise to target the glutes and hamstrings, it’s just that, unlike the other variations, the quads play a large part in the movement. We should keep this in mind when designing our leg and glute workouts so that volume can be applied appropriately.


Do Deadlifts Grow Glutes?

A systematic review (3) was conducted in 2020 to compare glute activation during common strength and hypertrophy exercises. The table below summarizes the results of this review.


Number of Subjects

Number of Studies

Average (mean %MVIC)

Minimum-maximum (%MVIC)

Back Squats (all variations)



53.10 ± 25.12


Deadlifts (all variations)



61.02 ± 28.14


Hip Thrusts

(all variations)



75.41 ± 18.49


Front Squat



40.54 ± 4.73

37.2 – 43.89

Belt Squat



71.34 ± 29.42


Modified Single-leg Squat



65.6 ± 15.1


Step-ups (all variations)



125.09 ± 55.26


Lunges (all variations)



66.5 ± 0.7


Overhead Squat



39.75 ± 29.91


Split Squat



70 ± 15


Table comparing glute activation during common strength and hypertrophy exercises.

As you can see from the table, deadlifts elicited high amounts of muscle activation in the glutes, making them one of the most effective exercises for developing strength and size in the region.

So, to answer the question, yes, deadlifts will grow your glutes. Muscle activation has been linked to muscle building (4), and deadlifts are one of the best exercises for targeting the glutes so rest assured deadlifts can help add inches to the buttocks.

For optimal gains, pair your deadlift variations with a muscle-building diet, progressive overload and adequate rest to get the most out of your training. Doing so will help you maximize strength, power, and muscle gains, and improve your overall performance.



Deadlifts are one of the most effective exercises for targeting the glutes and building strength and muscle. As long as you have proper form and use a weight that is challenging but still allows you to perform the exercise correctly, deadlifts can be a great addition to your glute-building routine.

Whilst all the variations mentioned target the glutes, some do so more than others. Experiment with each of the exercises to see which one you get on with the most. Everyone’s anatomy is different, some people will find that their glutes get fired up from exercise ‘A’ whereas some people will find that exercise ‘B’ results in better glute activation. The most important thing is to find the exercise that is right for you and progress with it.

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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