Best Compound Glute Exercises for Bigger Glutes

If you want to strengthen your glutes and increase muscle mass, you can do the best compound glute exercises. In this article, I’ve shared the 5 best compound exercises for glutes that can help you increase strength, mass, and build a sizeable buttock.

What Are Compound Glute Exercises?

Compound workouts activate and engaged several muscles at once. For example, if you do the step-up compound glute workout, it will also work on your quadriceps and hamstrings muscles simultaneously.

Compound workouts are better than isolation workouts for gaining strength and muscles. And doing them consistently will help you build glute strength and size as well as improve posture.

Related: List of Compound Exercises

What Are The Most Effective Compound Glute Exercises?

Step up and its variations, hex bar deadlift, and barbell hip thrust are some of the most effective compound exercises for glutes that elicited the highest glute muscle activation and increase strength and mass.

You’ll see the complete list of glute compound exercises in this article which is based on a systematic review published online by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine on the National Institute of Health website.

Glutes Maximus Muscle Activation in Compound Exercises
Source: National Institute of Health

I’ll also share step-by-step instructions on how to do the 5 best compound glute exercises so that you can incorporate them into your exercise regime for developing glutes muscle.

List of Compound Glute Exercises

  1. Step-up
  2. Lateral Step-Up
  3. Crossover Step-up         
  4. Trap bar Deadlift
  5. Barbell Hip Thrust
  6. Rotation Barbell Hip Thrust
  7. Belt Squat
  8. Split Squat
  9. Lunges
  10. Modified Single-leg Squat
  11. Traditional Deadlift
  12. Parallel Back Squat         
  13. Front Squat       
  14. Stiff-Leg Deadlift
  15. Sumo Deadlift

Also Read: Dumbbell Compound Exercises

The 5 Best Compound Exercises for Glutes

Combining different variations of compound exercises for glutes can help you build stronger and bigger glutes. That’s why I’ve selected the top 5 compound movements for glutes from the above list and they are:

  1. Dumbbell Step-Up
  2. Trap Bar Deadlift
  3. Barbell Hip Thrust
  4. Belt Squat
  5. Weighted Lunges

1. Step-up

Best Compound Exercises For Glutes
Step up compound movements for glutes

The step-up is one of the best compound exercises for building powerful glutes.

The step-up and its variations elicit the highest level of glutes maximum activation and doing it consistently gives you noticeable results in a couple of months.

How to do step up

You can do the step-up exercise with help of a bench, box, or any flat higher object like a box. Either you can do a bodyweight step up or weighted step up with dumbbells depending on your strength and fitness level.

If you want to increase strength and size, the dumbbell step-up may produce higher results because weights put external load so your muscles get the highest activation.

Steps to do dumbbell box step up

  1. Stand straight in the hip-width stance in front of the box, holding one dumbbell in each hand with your arms are straight at your sides and palms facing your body. You can also keep the dumbbells across your shoulders by bending your elbows.
  2. Step up your right foot on the box and bent your knee to 90-degrees. While the left leg is straight on the ground.
  3. Now, press with your right feet into the box to straighten your right leg and bring your left leg on the box as well, so you’re staying in the standing position.
  4. Reverse the steps to complete one rep for your right leg. And repeat the same steps to perform next rep with your left leg.
  5. Do the desired number of sets and repetitions with 1-minute rest between each set.
  6. Always use your front foot to lift yourself onto the box.

Other than regular step up, you can do several types of step-ups. such as lateral step-up, diagonal step-up, Cross over step-up.

You may also like: 3 Day Compound Workout Routine

2. Hex or Trap Bar Deadlift

You can incorporate a hex bar deadlift to strengthen your gluteus muscle.

The study suggests that doing hex bar deadlift generates higher glute activation than other exercises like sumo deadlift, split squat, lunges, etc.

How to do hex bar deadlift

  1. Stand upright in the hip-width stance in the middle of hex bar.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees and lower yourself to grab the handles of the trap bar.
  3. Keep your chest up and shoulder blades down so that you can lift the weight powerfully.
  4. Raise your hips and shoulders at the same range while maintaining a straight back.
  5. Take a long breath and lift the bar with full strength until your hips come forward.
  6. Hold for a couple of seconds then slowly lower the weight back on the floor. That’s one rep!
  7. Do as many reps as you can.
  8. Keep your core tight during the whole lift.

3. Barbell Hip Thrust

The barbell hip thrust is one of the most effective conventional workouts for the lower body because it works on multiple muscles at the same time, such as gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, lower back, hamstrings, side quad, and core– showed in a study published on NIH website.

So you must incorporate barbell hip thrust in your compound glute exercises because it creates the highest glute activation than any other muscle.

You can do the hip thrust in several ways, such as by placing a dumbbell or weight plate on your hips. However, the barbell hip thrust produces a better result than other variations according to a study.

The best and the safest way to do barbell hip is using the smith machine. The smith machine allows you to control your excess movement and help you perform safely and effectively.

How to do Barbell Hip Thrust on Smith Machine

  1. Set the bar to an appropriate height and weight according to your strength in the smith machine.
  2. Attach a thick squat sponge to the centre of the bar and place a bench under it.
  3. Place your upper back on the bench with your feet flat on the floor (shoulder-width apart) in front of you, knees bent to 90 degree so your chest and knees are in line.
  4. Put a balance pad on your hip for extra safety.
  5. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. And the put the bar on your hips. That’s the start.
  6. Keeping your core tight, thrust the bar upward as high and fast as you can. Once you reach your top, hold for a couple of seconds and then lower your hips to the start. That’s one rep.
  7. Focus on squeezing your Glutes throughout the movement.
  8. Do four sets of 12, 10, 8 and 6 repetitions.

4. Belt Squat

The belt squat is one of the unknown super effective compound workouts that highly activate and engage lower body muscles including glutes Maximus.

This isn’t suitable for naive gym goers, if you’re a beginner, then you’ll need to improve the back squat first.

If you’re an intermediate, check out the steps below on how to do belt squat.

  1.  Wear the belt on your lower back and tightly tied just lower your hips (below your stomach).
  2. Stand upright in front of the belt squat machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Insert the weight according to your strength in the bar and attach the belt to the chain.
  4. Place your hands on the machine in front of you for help. That’s the start.
  5. Push your hips back, bend you knees and sqaut down until your glute is parllel to the ground.
  6. Hold for a couple of seconds, and then press into the floor with your feet to return to the standing position. That’s one complete repetition.
  7. Do three sets of 12, 10 and 8 repetitions.

The belt squat works more on glute muscle than other squat variations but if you don’t have access to a belt squat machine, you can do a standard barbell back squat or the single dumbbell Romanian deadlift.

If you want to know about belt squat and its variations you can check it out on the SimpliFaster website.

5. Lunges

Glutes also activate and engage when you do lunges. The lunge is a lower-body compound workout that works on several muscles at once including the glutes Maximus.

The lunges have several variations, such as body weight lunges, dumbbell lunges, and barbell lunges (forward and backward).

The weighted lunges (forward or backward) can help you increase strength, mass, and tone your glute muscle.

For you, I’ve shared both dumbbells forward lunge and smith machine barbell lunges with how to do stepwise instructions so you can do both of them on different days.

How to do dumbbell forward lunges

Compound Glute Exercises For Bigger Glutes
photo created by freepik (Dumbell Lunges)
  1. Stand straight in the shoulder-width stance holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides with arms fully extended.
  2. Take a big step forward with your left foot and keep your right foot firmly on the ground, now you’re in staggered stance.
  3. Bend your left knee to squat down until the right knee touches the ground.
  4. Press into the floor with your front leg to push yourself back up in the staggered stance. That’s your one rep for your left leg.
  5. Do 6 to 8 reps and switch on the opposite side.
  6. Keep your core and glutes engaged throughout the movement.
  7. Complete three sets of 10, 8 and 6 repetitions.

Also See: An Ultimate Guide To The Dumbbell Leg Exercises

How to do smith machine reverse lunges

  1. Set the bar to an appropriate height and weight according to your strength.
  2. Attach a balance pad to the centre of the bar so you can place it over your rear shoulder.
  3. Get under the bar, place it behind your head on your shoulder and grab it with an overhand grip. And stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. That’s the start
  4. Keeping your core tight and back straight, take one large step backward with your right foot and keep your left one firmly on the ground, so you’re in the staggered stance.
  5. Bend your front knee to squat down until the rear knee touches the ground.
  6. Pause for a couple of seconds and then push into the floor with your front foot until your legs are fully straight (return to the staggered stance). That’s your one rep.
  7. Focus on squeezing your lower body muscles including Glutes during the movement.
  8. Do four sets of 12, 10, 8 and 6 repetitions.

Do Compound Exercises Build Glutes?

Yes, compound exercises are proven to be the most effective way to build glute strength and size. Research suggests step up and its variations, hex bar deadlift, hip thrust, and squat are some of the highly effective compound exercises for glutes that elicited the highest glute muscle activation and increase mass, stability, and posture.

How Often Can I Train Glutes?

1 to 2 times a week you can train your glutes to build strength and size if you do push-pull legs or upper-lower split. However, if you do full-body training, then you can train your gluteus 3 to 4 times a week. In both ways, you can efficiently build gluteus strength and mass.

You can incorporate both compound glute exercises and isolation workouts alternatively in a week. Using heavier loads on the compound days may help you gain muscles as well as strength over the course of a long-term training cycle.

Final Words

The compound workouts are a great way to work on your glute for stretch and size.  With the above best compound glute exercises, you’ll be able to activate and engaged glutes Maximus in an effective way. Several factors such as resistance, load, intensity, level of fatigue, and the need for joint stabilization also influence the gluteus Maximus activation.

Doing a weighted compound glute workout elicits the highest activation than bodyweight variation so if you use external load, you’ll be able to generate the highest activation.

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Murshid Akram
I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness blogger, and nature lover. I always learn more about exercise science and human anatomy so that I can provide the best information possible. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

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