5 Best Glute Strengthening Dumbbell Exercises

The glute is as important as other muscles of the lower body. It consists of three muscles: the glutes maximus, glutes medius, and glutes minimus. These muscles are involved when you sit, jump, squat, or even walk.

Strengthening your gluteals helps you sit longer without discomfort, improves your posture, stabilizes your lower back, and enhances your functional and athletic fitness.

In this article, I’ve shared the five best glute-focused dumbbell exercises to hammer your entire bottom from all angles.

Whether you’re male or female, if you train at home with dumbbells only, I suggest including these exercises in your workout regime for balanced lower body development.

5 Dumbbell Glute Exercises to Sculpt Your Backside

  1. Dumbbell Glute Bridges
  2. Dumbbell Hip Thrust
  3. Leaning Forward Step-up
  4. Frog Pump
  5. Dumbbell Donkey Kicks

1. Dumbbell Glute Bridge

Glute bridge helps engage the backside effectively and build firm and rounded buttocks.

It is safe, effective, and adaptable, and people of all fitness levels can do to enhance their bottom strength.

About Exercise

  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Other Engaged Muscles: Lower Back, Hamstring, and Abs
  • Benefits: Engage glutes maximus and build a burly backside.
  • Mechanics: Isolation Exercise

Steps to Do a DB Glute Bridge

  1. Start: Lie on the mat with your knees bent to 90 degrees. Grab the ends of a dumbbell and place it on your hip.
  2. Execution: Brace your abs and glutes, and lift your hips off the floor until your knees and chest are in a straight line.
  3. Finish: Feel the work in your glutes, then return to the start.

Recommended Sets and Reps

Perform three sets of 10-12 reps with 30-60 seconds of break in between. I recommend using moderate to heavy dumbbells and squeezing your glutes at the top for maximum contraction.

2. Dumbbell Hip Thrust

The hip thrust provides better stretch and muscle contraction in your glutes than bridges. It involves lowering your hips down, then thrusting it with full strength so your entire buttocks can feel the contraction.

About Exercise

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Other Engaged Muscles: Hamstrings and Lower Back
  • Benefits: Activate the gluteal muscles, improve hip mobility, and enhance posterior chain strength and flexibility.
  • Mechanics: Compound Movement

Steps to Do a Hip Thrust

  1. Start: Position your upper back against a flat, unmovable surface with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Place a dumbbell just above your hips (you can put a towel under the weight for comfort).
  2. Execution: Engage your core muscles and thrust your hips upward to contract your glutes until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Focus on pushing the weight upward using your hips and glutes.
  3. Finish: Hold at the top position briefly, squeezing your glutes at the peak of the movement. Slowly lower your hips back down to the starting position under control.

Recommended Sets and Rep

Three sets of 10-15 reps. Perform 15 reps in the first set, 12 reps with slightly heavy dumbbells, and then 10 reps with a more heavy load.

3. Frog Pump

The frog pump is a glute-focused isolation exercise that largely engages the muscles of the buttocks and adductors.

It involves keeping your knees out and feet together, activating your glutes maximus and glutes medius, both muscles simultaneously.

About Exercise

  • Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Other Engaged Muscles: Lower Back and Abs
  • Benefits: Engages the gluteal muscles from a different angle and builds burly glutes.
  • Mechanics: Isolation Exercise

Steps to Do a Frog Pump

  1. Start: Lie on the floor with your knees bent and pointing outside and your feet together (your heels facing one another). Grab the ends of a dumbbell and hold it on your hip.
  2. Execution: Brace your core and lower body and lift your hips off the floor until your glutes are entirely engaged.
  3. Finish: Pause at the top, feel the contraction in your buttocks, then return to the start.

Recommended Sets and Rep

Four sets of 15 reps. I recommend performing each rep deliberately using moderate weight because this exercise is for strengthening and conditioning gluteal muscles, not maximizing your heavy lifting or enhancing explosiveness.

4. Dumbbell Donkey Kick

The donkey kicks activate the backside differently than the other glute exercises. It involves sitting at a tabletop and kicking your feet upward. Combining this exercise with hip thrust and frog pumps helps build a burly and defined butt.

About Exercise

  • Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Other Engaged Muscles: Lower Back and Hamstring
  • Benefits: The unique sitting position effectively isolates the glutes and helps enhance stability and balance. It also allows you to work more on the weaker side of the glutes, improving strength imbalance and muscle definition.
  • Mechanics: Isolation Exercise

Steps to Do a DB Donkey Kick

  1. Start: Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Execution: Keep your abdominals engaged and your back flat. Lift one leg off the floor, keep the knee bent at a 90-degree angle, and drive your foot toward the ceiling until your glutes contract.
  3. Finish: Feel the squeeze at the top for a few moments, then lower your leg back down with control. Repeat on the opposite side.

Recommended Sets and Rep

Perform three to four sets of 10 to 15 reps on each side. To improve muscle imbalance and glute symmetry, I suggest performing more reps on the weaker side.

5. Leaning Forward Step-up

The leaning step-up is a lower-body unilateral exercise that specifically bolsters quads and glutes.

It involves training one leg at a time, allowing you to focus more on your underdeveloped side.

The leaning variation makes the exercise more glute-focused and helps contribute to building a solid buttock.1 Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, et al. Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. J Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(1):195-203. Published 2020 Feb 24

About Exercise

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Other Engaged Muscles: Quads and Hamstrings
  • Benefits: Strengthen legs and glutes, improve balance and muscle coordination, and enhance functional and athletic performance.
  • Mechanics: Compound Exercise

Steps to Do a Leaning Step-up

  • Start: Grab one dumbbell in each hand and stand against a box or bench, your palms facing the body.
  • Execution: Slightly lean your torso forward and step your right foot on the box, followed by the left one, until you stand on it.
  • Finish: Return to the start; now begin stepping on the box with your left foot.

Recommended Sets and Rep

Perform four sets per session, focusing more on the weaker glutes.

I recommend doing the first set without weights, followed by three sets with dumbbells.

Also, keeping the rest time shorter between sets can help you produce decent results than letting your muscles calm for longer rest periods.

Wrapping it Up

For those serious fitness enthusiasts who train at home with limited equipment like dumbbells, I highly recommend doing these dumbbell exercises to buttress your glutes.

The gluteal muscles are the largest lower body muscles, comprising the glutes maximus, glutes medius, and glutes minimus. Collectively, they are called the backside or bottom.

These muscles are involved when you sit, jump, squat, deadlift, or even walk.

Bolstering your backside provides stability to your torso, helps you sit long, improves your posture, reduces the risk of lower back injuries, and improves functional, lifting, and sporting performance.

References

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Author
Murshid Akram
I'm an online personal trainer, fitness blogger, and fitness enthusiast. I love researching and writing about exercise and nutrition. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.
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