Impact-Site-Verification: 1728352514
Free UK delivery on orders over £50 & Free Worldwide shipping on orders over £75


9 Best Smith Machine Glute Exercises (To Grow the Booty)

December 06, 2023

Best Smith machine glute exercises article header

The Smith machine isn't just a gym staple. It's a powerhouse for transforming your workouts, especially regarding glute growth. In fact, I'd argue it's a wise investment for those sculpting their bodies at home. Not confined to just working out the glutes, its versatility spans across multiple muscle groups.

The Smith machine offers unique advantages in muscle development that you may not be able to benefit from when using free weights or machines, and uncovering these benefits is going to be one of the key focuses later in the article.

To start, we’re going to dive into the best Smith machine glute exercises that you can incorporate into your routine today to level up your glute game. We’ve also designed 2 Smith machine glute workouts that will be a game changer in your glute-building journey.

Stick with me to the end to uncover these gems.


The Best Smith Machine Glute Exercises

1. Squat

Smith machine squat exercise example

The squat, a fundamental exercise in strength training, is particularly effective when performed on a Smith machine. This exercise primarily targets the quads, glutes, calves, core and spinal erectors. Bonus tip – to shift the emphasis and grow the glutes, not the legs, take a step forward from the Smith machine and imagine sitting back into a chair when descending into the squat.  


How to:

  1. Step under the bar of the Smith machine, positioning it comfortably across your shoulders.
  2. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly pointed outwards.
  3. Position your feet slightly forward than usual to shift emphasis to the glutes. This reduces knee flexion and increases hip flexion.
  4. For even more glute activation, adopt a wider stance.
  5. Slowly lower your body by bending your knees, keeping your back straight and chest up.
  6. Go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as low as comfortable).
  7. Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

Adjusting your foot position can significantly impact the muscle groups worked. As we mentioned, not only can you move the focus from the quads to the glutes by standing further forward, but you can also adopt a wider stance to recruit the gluteus medius and minimus.

For more on how foot placement affects muscle activation, check out these insightful articles on Leg Press for Glutes and Hack Squat Foot Placement.


2. Hip Thrust


The hip thrust is a powerhouse for targeting the glutes, essential in any Smith machine glute exercise repertoire. Performed with a Smith machine, it offers a controlled environment to really focus on glute activation and growth.


How to:

  1. Set up a bench horizontally behind the Smith machine.
  2. Sit on the ground with your upper back against the bench and the barbell from the machine above your hips.
  3. Plant your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart, knees bent.
  4. Lift the bar by extending your hips upward driving through your heels.
  5. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees at the top of the movement.
  6. Pause at the top, squeezing your glutes for maximum engagement.
  7. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position.

Mastering the hip thrust on the Smith machine can significantly enhance your glute-building regimen. For a deeper dive into maximizing your hip thrusts for glute building, explore the nuances and tips in this comprehensive guide on Hip Thrust Machines.


3. Bulgarian Split Squats

Bulgarian Split Squats are an excellent exercise for unilateral lower-body training, focusing intensely on the glutes and quads. Performing this exercise on a Smith machine ensures stability and allows for precise control of movement, making it a valuable addition to any Smith machine glute exercise routine.


How to:

  1. Position a bench a couple of feet behind the Smith machine.
  2. Stand facing away from the machine and place the bar across your shoulders.
  3. Extend one leg back and place the top of your foot on the bench.
  4. Ensure your standing foot is far enough forward so that when you squat down, your knee doesn't extend past your toes.
  5. Lower your body by bending the knee of your standing leg, keeping your torso upright and core engaged.
  6. Drop down until your thigh is parallel to the ground, then press through your front heel to return to the starting position.
  7. Complete your set and then switch legs.

The Bulgarian Split Squat is a glute-builder and a test of balance and coordination, making it a versatile component in your lower body workout regime.


4. Romanian Deadlift

Romanian deadlift exercise example

The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) on the Smith machine is a superb exercise for targeting the glutes and hamstrings. It involves a hip-hinge movement that emphasizes the posterior chain, crucial for developing a solid and well-defined backside.


How to:

  1. Set the Smith machine bar to just below hip height
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart behind the bar of the Smith machine.
  3. Grip the bar at shoulder width, lifting it off the rack. Keep your knees slightly bent throughout the exercise.
  4. Hinge at your hips and lower the bar by pushing your buttocks back, keeping your back straight and neck neutral.
  5. Lower the bar until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, but avoid rounding your back.
  6. Engage your glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position, pushing your hips forward at the top of the movement.

Maintaining proper form during the Romanian Deadlift is essential to maximize its effectiveness and prevent injury. This exercise is not just about lifting heavy weights; it's about control and precision in movement to effectively develop the lower glutes.

Related - Best Deadlifts for Targeting the Glutes


5. Good Mornings

Good Mornings on the Smith machine is an exceptional compound exercise for strengthening the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. This movement involves a hip hinge, similar to the Romanian Deadlift, but with a shift in the center of gravity as the weight is on your back as opposed to being held in your hands.


How to:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart under the Smith machine.
  2. Position the bar across your shoulders, like you would for a squat.
  3. Keep your legs straight (but not locked), your back neutral, and hinge at your hips.
  4. Bend forward from your hips, lowering your torso towards the ground while maintaining a straight back.
  5. Lower down as far as comfortable, feeling a stretch in your hamstrings and maintaining tension in your glutes.
  6. Use your hamstrings and glutes to return to the starting position, keeping your core engaged.

Good Mornings are a potent exercise for enhancing posterior chain strength. They require a focus on form and controlled movement, making the Smith machine an ideal platform for this exercise. Remember, the key is in the hip hinge and keeping your spine neutral throughout the movement.


6. Reverse Lunge

The Reverse Lunge is a dynamic and effective exercise targeting the glutes and legs. When performed on a Smith machine, it allows for a controlled and stable motion, which can be especially beneficial for those focusing on form and muscle engagement. A longer lunge stride shifts the emphasis more towards the glutes than the quads.


How to:

  1. Stand upright in the Smith machine with the bar resting on your shoulders.
  2. Step back with one foot, placing it far enough behind you to ensure a longer lunge.
  3. Lower your hips until the front thigh is parallel to the floor and the back knee is close to touching the ground.
  4. Keep your torso upright and your core engaged throughout the movement.
  5. Press through the heel of your front foot to return to the starting position.
  6. Alternate legs or complete all reps on one side before switching.

The Reverse Lunge is not just beneficial for your lower body strength; it also improves balance and stability. For an advanced variation of this exercise, explore the Deficit Reverse Lunge, which adds an extra challenge and intensity to the movement.


7. Split Squat

The Split Squat is a fantastic exercise for isolating and strengthening the glutes and quads. When performed on the Smith machine, it provides additional stability, allowing for focused muscle engagement and balance.


How to:

  1. Position yourself in the Smith machine with the bar across your shoulders.
  2. Step forward with one foot, placing it firmly on the ground. The other foot should be extended back, balancing on the ball of the foot.
  3. Lower your body by bending your front knee, keeping your torso upright and your core engaged.
  4. Drop down until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Ensure your front knee doesn’t go past your toes to maintain proper form.
  5. Push through the heel of your front foot to rise back up to the starting position.
  6. Complete your set before switching legs.

The Split Squat is particularly effective for unilateral training, ensuring both legs work equally and reducing the risk of muscle imbalances. Its focus on stability and control makes it a valuable addition to any lower body routine, especially for those looking to enhance glute strength and definition.


8. Glute Donkey Kicks

Smith machine donkey kick exercise example

Glute Donkey kicks on a Smith machine are an innovative way to target the glutes, mimicking the motion of cable or machine kickbacks. This exercise is excellent for isolating the glutes and improving strength and muscle definition.


How to:

  1. Pin the bar of the Smith machine to roughly hip height
  2. Kneel on the floor or a mat under the bar
  3. Position yourself so that the middle of your foot is under the bar.
  4. Keep your chest and hips square, maintaining a neutral spine.
  5. Drive the bar up with your foot, extending your leg back and up.
  6. Focus on moving through the full range of motion, bringing your knee down to the floor and extending it back to a 90-degree position.
  7. Complete your desired number of reps before switching to the other leg.

This version of Glute Donkey Kicks requires attention to form, mainly keeping your hips square and driving through the mid-foot. This ensures maximum engagement of the glutes and allows full range of motion for optimal results. Due to the nature of the exercise, this is better suited to the advanced lifter.


9. Reverse Hyperextensions

Reverse Hyperextensions on a Smith machine offer a unique way to strengthen and define the glutes and lower back. Using a bench and the Smith machine, this variation allows for targeted glute engagement through a full range of motion.


How to:

  1. Pin the bar of the Smith machine to roughly hip height
  2. Place a bench in front of the bar and lie face down on the bench.
  3. Grip the edge of the bench with your hands for stability.
  4. Position yourself so the middle of your feet (center of your arch) is under the bar.
  5. Push through the mid-foot, lifting your legs while squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
  6. Ensure a full range of motion, using the bench to push your feet up and achieve optimal glute contraction.
  7. Start with light weights to get accustomed to the movement, then gradually increase the weight as you build strength.

This exercise is a fantastic way to finish a glute-focused workout, ensuring you engage your muscles effectively and safely. Similar to the glute kickback, due to the nature of the exercise it’s a good idea to have at least 6 months of lifting experience under your belt before you tackle this complex movement.


Smith Machine Glute Workout

Before diving into the workouts, addressing a common gym etiquette concern is essential. Yes, the Smith machine is an incredible tool for glute development. However, if you're in a busy gym with just one Smith machine, monopolizing it for an extended period might not win you many friends. Sharing is crucial in a communal fitness space.

A more considerate and equally effective approach would be integrating a few selected Smith machine exercises with free weights and other glute-focused machines. This strategy not only shows respect for other gym users but also enriches your workout. Free weights and other glute machines complement the Smith machine, offering benefits and variety that lead to comprehensive glute development.

Now, if you're lucky enough to have a Smith machine at home, you can indulge in an extended, machine-exclusive session. The same applies if the gym is quiet and the machine is unoccupied – go ahead and make the most of it!

I've put together two specialized workouts for those times when the stars align and you have the Smith machine all to yourself. These routines are designed to maximize your glute training, leveraging the versatility and effectiveness of the Smith machine.


Smith Machine Glute Workout 1



Hip thrusts

4 Sets of 8-10

Bulgarian split squats

3 sets of 8-10 each leg

Good mornings

3 sets of 10-12

Split Squats

3 sets of 10-12 each leg

Glute kickbacks

3 sets of 12-15 each leg



Smith Machine Glute Workout 2




4 sets of 8-10

Romanian deadlifts

3 sets of 8-10

Reverse Lunge

3 sets of 8-10 each leg

Bulgarian split squats

3 sets of 12-15 each leg

Reverse hyperextensions

3 sets of 10-12



Benefits of Using the Smith Machine to Train Glutes

Isolate the Glutes

One of the standout benefits of using a Smith machine for glute training is its ability to closely approximate muscle isolation. While true isolation of the glutes is not entirely possible due to the involvement of other muscle groups, the Smith machine comes impressively close.

The design of the Smith machine, with its bar moving strictly up and down along vertical tracks, eliminates any sideways movement. This unique feature significantly reduces the demand for stabilizing muscles, which is often required in free-weight exercises. Consequently, your energy and effort are more directly focused on the target area – the glutes.

This focused training approach helps you hone in on your glutes, driving more effective muscle engagement and growth. The Smith machine's guided motion provides a stable and controlled environment, allowing for precise muscle targeting, which is particularly beneficial for those dedicated to enhancing their glute strength and definition.


Beginner Friendly

Embarking on a fitness journey can be overwhelming, especially when navigating free weight exercises. For beginners, the Smith machine stands out as a friendly and accessible starting point. Its design, where the bar is constrained to move only up and down, dramatically simplifies the lifting process. This restricted sideward motion means there's less coordination needed compared to the multi-directional demands of free weights.

Starting with the Smith machine allows new lifters to build confidence and familiarity with various exercises in a more controlled environment. It's an excellent way to learn and practice the correct movement patterns without the added complexity of balancing and stabilizing free weights. As you gradually build strength and master these movements on the Smith machine, transitioning to free weights becomes less intimidating and more achievable.


Safe Alternative

The Smith machine offers an invaluable safety feature, especially when pushing your limits in strength training. It's designed with adjustable safety stoppers that can be set to a specific height. This feature ensures that if you ever fail during a rep, you're not at risk of being trapped under the barbell. This aspect of the Smith machine makes it a safe alternative to free weights, particularly for exercises like squats and lunges where the risk of failure is present.

Another significant benefit is the independence it offers. The safety mechanisms of the Smith machine eliminate the need for a spotter, allowing you to work out alone safely. This is particularly advantageous if you prefer solo workouts or are in a gym environment without a reliable training partner.

Building muscle effectively often requires training close to failure (1). While this is a productive approach, it can be risky with free weights, especially for exercises like squats, where failing could leave you in a precarious situation. The Smith machine mitigates this risk. If you fail on a rep, the safety bars catch the weight, ensuring you can train hard and close to failure with a significantly reduced risk of injury.


Promotes Progression

The Smith machine ensures safety and significantly promotes progression in strength and hypertrophy training. Its secure design allows you to explore and test your limits in a manner that might be too risky with free weights. This is crucial for anyone looking to push their physical boundaries and make substantial gains.

As your workout progresses and exercises become more challenging, the Smith machine provides an environment where you can safely attempt that extra rep, even if there's doubt about completion. The worst-case scenario is failing the rep, but with the safety catches in place, the bar won't pose a risk to your safety. This ability to push yourself closer to failure without fear of injury is a game-changer for muscle growth and strength development.

With free weights, working so close to failure carries significant risks, including the potential for injury. In contrast, the Smith machine offers a safe space to push these limits. Embracing this approach, where you're pushing close to your boundaries, is an effective strategy for encouraging continuous progression and overcoming plateaus in your fitness journey.


Glute Activation

The Smith machine has been a subject of debate in the fitness community, with some critics labeling it as a sub-optimal training tool. However, this perception is not entirely accurate when it comes to glute activation and development. In fact, Bret Contreras, a renowned expert in glute training, has provided valuable insights that challenge these assumptions.

Contreras, often referred to as 'The Glute Guy,' has conducted extensive research in this area. He states, "Powerlifters and strongmen supplement their barbell training with Smith machine work. I've measured the EMG activity between barbell and Smith machine exercises and the difference in glute activity is not dramatic." This statement underscores that the Smith machine can be as effective as traditional barbell exercises for targeting the glutes.

It's true that the Smith machine's design minimizes the involvement of stabilizing muscles, which can be seen as a drawback if your goal is overall muscle coordination and balance development. However, the Smith machine is an excellent choice if your primary focus is on enhancing glute strength and size.

The evidence from leading researchers like Bret Contreras supports the effectiveness of the Smith machine in glute training. So, regardless of the skepticism, it's clear that the Smith machine can be a powerful asset in your glute-building arsenal. Don't just take our word for it; try one of the glute workouts outlined above. You'll likely feel the results the next day, proving the machine's effectiveness in stimulating those key muscle groups.


The Final Say

As you step away from the Smith Machine, feeling the rewarding burn in your glutes, take a moment to appreciate the journey you've embarked on. These nine exercises are not just routines but stepping stones to a more muscular, more confident you.

With its unique ability to target, isolate, and enhance your glute muscles, the Smith Machine is more than just equipment—it's a partner in your fitness journey. Whether a beginner or a seasoned gymgoer, these exercises offer a safe, effective, and progression-friendly path to achieving your dream glutes.

With consistent effort, dedication, and the right approach, your glute goals are a possibility and an inevitable success. So, lace up your sneakers, grab that bar, and let every rep take you closer to where you aspire to be.

Your fitness story is yours to write, and with these exercises, each chapter looks more promising than the last.



  1. Sundstrup, E., Jakobsen, M. D., Andersen, C. H., Zebis, M. K., Mortensen, O. S., & Andersen, L. L. (2012). Muscle Activation Strategies During Strength Training With Heavy Loading vs. Repetitions to Failure. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(7), 1897–1903.

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.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.