There are many different glute exercises but today, we are going to rank them so that you know which are worth your time and which ones you should skip. Because the glutes and hamstring muscles share many of the same functions, you are going to get a two for one here as both the glute exercises and hamstring exercises are going to be reviewed and ranked.

We start as always with the criteria for inclusion on this list. First, these exercises for glutes have to be capable of being overloaded over time. This is key for progressively building muscle. They also by that note have to be capable of delivering hypertrophy and not just strength. Finally, all of these glute exercises have to be safe to perform. As you’ll see, some don’t hold up well to this requirement and are therefore lowered down in the rankings.

We start as always at the bottom of the list in the worst exercises for glutes category.

First up is the prone hamstring curl. Remember, since we are grouping hamstring and glute exercises together due to their shared function, this variation of the curl deserves the lowest spot. It’s not that it isn’t capable of building bigger hamstrings. It’s because it often times brings about low back pain in the process. Especially when there’s a better option to come, this deserve the lowest spot on the list.

Next we have the heel press. This bodyweight glute exercise is one that is limited in both range of motion and overload capacity. There are many better and therefore cannot be ranked highly.

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The Step Mill is one of the most popular forms of cardio, especially for those that are looking to build their butt and do exercises for better glutes. The problem is, the motor is doing all the work. Pass and move onto to a superior alternative later on.

Finally, the leg press (even when performed with the feet high on the plate) is not nearly adequate for delivering glute gains. The range of motion is horrible and the overload is far from optimal. Much better glute exercises await.

In the better category, we improve on the isolated kickback to this time include some additional weight resistance. The standing cuff kickback is a good way to up your exercises for glutes and deliver better results. The DB reverse sprinter lunge will mimic the position of the chest and thigh that you would see at the bottom of the leg press but do a much better job resisting the extension at the hip on the way up, allowing it to rank deservedly higher.

The DB single leg RDL is great for exposing right and left leg muscle imbalances but the balance requirements could compromise the hamstring and glute muscle results that you’ll see which leaves it lower on the list.

Taking another step up in the glute exercise rankings into the better still category we find the cable single leg RDL as a slight improvement over the dumbbell because of the added stability we get from it in the frontal plane. The Seated hamstring curl machine is a far better option if you want to use a machine to build bigger legs. The direction of force takes the hip flexors out of the exercise and therefore saves your back. The KB Swing, while an amazingly athletic exercise for glute development can become more of a challenge to your conditioning rather than building bigger glutes.

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The almost best category includes the incredibly powerful squat (this time being recommended in a low bar position for targeting the glutes more effectively), the standard two legged version of the barbell RDL, a leaning forward step up, pull throughs and of course the underutilized glute ham raise. All of these exercises for glutes and hamstrings are capable of delivering stronger bigger glutes and are worth a spot in your glute workout.

Finally, the best of the best glute exercise is the barbell hip thrust. Both the mechanics of the exercise as well as it’s ability to check all three criteria laid out make it the best exercise for glutes. Be sure to watch why for all the details.

Meantime, if you’re looking for a complete program that puts the same science into the selection of all the exercises included (not just glute exercises), be sure to head to athleanx.com via the link below. Use the program selector to find the plan that matches your exact physique goals.

For more videos in the exercises ranked series be sure to check out chest exercises ranked and shoulder exercises ranked while remembering to subscribe to our channel via the link below and turning on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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52 thoughts on “Glute Exercises Ranked | Hamstrings (BEST TO WORST!)”
  1. “FAST ACTION” Q&A* – Leave your most burning question about this video or any other training, PT or nutrition question within the first 2 hours of this video’s release (AS A SEPARATE COMMENT!!) and I will pick 8 to get a detailed reply from me right here in the comments. Answers will be posted within the first 24-48 hours of you leaving the question. Good luck!

    1. How to fight obesity causing meds that you need or you will die. That lowers your metabolism and increase your hunger. I am 5 feet 8 240 pounds but not all fat though I look pretty muscular I have bad knees bad shins. I am trying to gain even more muscle by lowering the carbs and increasing the protein but nothing works. I feel I need to do the nuclear option which is 4 hours of cardio but I broke my knee funny the same time Bugenhagen broke his legs. I have eating what I love but literally impossible to keep my mouth close so I eat in excess. You diet usually works but this time it is different more insane

    2. I’ve stumbled upon a really interesting technique for upperbody freeweight exercises like, arm curls, shoulder press and raise, even upright row that I havent seen anyone else try. I’m finding it to be really useful. Instead of standing on your feet try those exercises kneeling tall (on your knees instead of your feet but with the same straight upright upper body). Naturuarlly with good cushioning floor surface)The benefits to me seemed to be that it eliminated virtually all body swing (even less than when seated) and I felt like I was able to isolate and target those movements much better because of it. Also it meant that the dumbels were litlerally right in front of me on the floor between sets making picking then up again a breeze. Has anyone else ever tried this? I’d be curious to know everyone’s thoughts if you give it a try.

    3. What leg exercises can I do for quad/hamstring/glute growth when I have osteoarthritis in my knee, specifically from a poor tracking patella?

    4. What about the hip add/abductor? It’s recognized as a favorite for glutes next to the hip thrusts and (sometimes) squats. Where in your list would this exercise be?

    1. Till this day this comment section is filled with the unfunniest corniest comments

  2. Jeff, you must have a microphone in our house because when my Personal Trainer wife starts talking about a body part she wants to focus more on, you put a video out a few days later and help further educate us. Thanks for everything you (and Jesse, lol) do! We LOVE all your content!

    1. Thanks Alan (and the Mrs!). Appreciate you guys watching and most of all, being a subscriber.(youtube puts a little red icon next to your name to let me know!)

    2. @ATHLEAN-X™ Thank you. We’re both prior Air Force and meet on the gym while deployed to Saudi Arabia over 21 years ago. I was a normal gym rat and she was the head personal trainer on base. 21 years of marriage and we’ve never left each other’s side since. It always warms her heart when she’s talking about workouts for us and her clients and hears the same things tou speak of in your videos. We have your 6 Pack Abs App and preach to everyone about your channel and content. Keep up the outstanding work and may you and your family be as blessed as we are.

  3. Question- I superset most of my exercises except for the big heavy compound lifts like deadlift as I have a limited time available to lift. Do you see a problem from a muscle growth standpoint supersetting too much? Thanks.

    1. If you have enough work capacity then it shouldn’t be a problem. Also it would be better if you superseded exercises from antagonistic muscle groups, like bis and tris,starting with your weakest one

    2. As a personal trainer, I love super sets. It saves time and works the heart way longer than a single set of one exercise. The problem with super sets is, you can end up sacrificing effort for your super set exercises. You have to be mindful of that or your gains can suffer. So like the previous comment is really spot on about opposing muscle groups. If your doing biceps, super set triceps or vice-versa etc etc

  4. WORST:

    prone hamstring curl – 1:49
    heel press. -2:32
    step mill. -3:24
    leg press. -4:23

    BETTER:

    reverse sprinter lunge. – 5:56
    standing cuff kickbacks -6:45
    single leg RDL. – 7:38

    BETTER STILL:

    cable SLDRL. – 8:16
    seated hamstring curl – 9:00
    Banded step through- 9:46
    Kb swings. -10:30

    ALMOST BEST :

    cable pull through-11:23
    dp leaning step up -12:04
    gluteus bridge curl
    / gluteus ham rises. . -13:04
    barbell Rdl’s. -14:20
    low bar squats. -15:00

    BEST :

    barbell hip thrust 16:07

    1. lets see how many lazy people that wont change their body ever… will like these timestamps…

  5. Hey Jeff! I love these videos! I actually find them super helpful when deciding which exercises to do.

    I was wondering if you could break up the video with “Video Chapters” (e.g. “Pullthroughs – ALMOST BEST”)? That way, if I wanna go back to a specific exercise in the video, I can find it quickly.

  6. QUESTION: As one of the requirements you’ve set for these exercises are – progressive overload. How are you going to overload the GHR / Slick floor bridge curls?

    1. Basically just trying to let your feet slide farther and farther out until you can do a decent amount all the way out which is harder than it looks, then when you can do that go to one leg at a time or maybe adding bands.

  7. I know he included those “sprinter lunges” but walking weighted lunges are one of the best glute exercises I’ve ever tried. Use dumbbells, not barbells, and just take a looong painful walk. Personally, step ups and RDLs never did much for me. Glad he included squats and barbell hip thrust as top exercises, can’t really argue with those.

    1. Try bending your knees slightly more when doing rdl. They never did much for me either until I started doing that.

    2. @Navers Kay I’ve never done sprinter lunges but reverse or walking work great for me for glutes. I’ll have to try those sprinter ones though; I think the extra stretch you get from leaning forward and touching the dumbbells to the ground would make it a little more effective.

      I’ve definitely noticed that exercises that allow you to get a good stretch on the muscle you’re working (RDLs for hamstrings, cable one armed overhead extensions if you bring your arm down far enough behind your head, even just dumbbell curls if you let the weight go down far enough to stretch your bicep, pullups if you go down all the way at the bottom, etc) really tax the muscle afterwards and I’m much more sore from those exercises.

  8. Hi Jeff, I’ve started to seriously focus on building a connection with my Mid- and Rear- Delt training recently, and I’ve seen conflicting suggestions for how to disengage your Traps from exercises for both delt areas. Some videos recommend a head-bowed-forward approach to relax your neck and avoid shrugging, while others will explicitly state arching your back/neck will disengage them. Should the advice be different depending on the exercise (lying facedown, facedown on an incline, , lying back on incline, standing etc…)? Or is there a single answer for the best way to keep your traps out of the equation for Delt exercises? Thanks for all the consistently effective and intelligent content over the years!

    1. I’m not Jeff but maybe I can make some suggestions. Tilting your head forwards/downwards will actually activate the traps, the upper traps contribute to keeping your neck stable and upright. Since your goal is to hit delts, that automatically means the weight must be relatively light. So my recommendation is find an appropriate light weight, then just depress your shoulders, during e.g. lateral raises. If the weight is light enough, you’ll be able to isolate the delts as much as possible without the traps kicking in to save the day. I should also mention that the delts and traps work in synchronisation, so don’t become too obsessed with eliminating trap activation.

    2. You just do what feels right, the range of motion can vary as much as your body allows. No rules except for don’t overload cartilage and avoid hyper-extensions. These videos are for reference only, they are not the truth.

  9. Jesus, this is amazing. Hurt low back three days ago and was able to function in such a short time by doing those corrective exercises. For the next few weeks by butt is getting majority of the attention.

  10. Hey Jeff, I’ve been struggling with tendonitis in my wrists lately. I’ve been doing my workouts at home and it’s definitely time to go back to the gym, but I would like to know how I should work around it so I don’t exacerbate the issue.

  11. I am a female and I can say I am NOT pissed by this video lol.
    I appreciate the science, and the time I am going to save now knowing the best exercises to reach my goals!

    1. The step mill can still be a functional leg workout if you take two steps at a time. By going two steps at a time with the machine, you are still lifting a decent percentage of your body weight. At the peak of the lift, I am also pressing up higher with my calves before taking the next double step up with my other leg and repeating. I’ve seriously had two different trainers and other random people in the gym ask me “how do you get calves like that?” I do two steps for two minutes, then one step at a time for two minutes at a slower rate (then repeat for however long you want to workout) so it becomes my HIIT training exercise.

  12. Question for a video: Can you go over the best mechanical drop sets for each muscle group based off of the 6 big lifts (Bench Press, OPH, Barbell Row, Chin-Ups/Pull-ups, Barbell Squat, Lunge, Hip Thrust, and Deadlift)? Looking to understand more joint-angle mechanical drop sets and have a vague idea but would like to learn more.

    1. Funny you mention this Jonathan. This was a topic that was discussed here at length this week. Stay tuned! Thanks for being a valued subscriber my man.

  13. I was really waiting for the barbell hip thrust because it lights up my back chain like crazy. It’s the only thing that hits my left side hamstring, glute and lower back really well, the side that’s seriously lacking muscle volume. Second best is surely single leg RDL for hip stabilizing imbalances. And left side of the core also lights up really well when keeping straight leg in line with straight back.

  14. My PT noticed a hamstring imbalance on me and recommended the DB step up that Jeff showed, which is actually his highest ranking single leg exercise on his list. Its always a good sign when experts agree on stuff.

  15. Hey Jeff! I suffer from flat feet (lack of an arch). What are the best ways to rebuild the arch? Additionally, I have been told that wide toe box shoes can greatly assist in letting your toes spread out and help stabilize the arch, what are your thoughts on that?

  16. Hey Jeff! Last year, I had an inguinal hernia repair done with mesh. I love the barbell hip thrust. However, when adding any type of weight to the exercise, I notice pain in the groin area where the hernia was located. I’ve even tried adding a foam mat to cushion the bar, but the pressure of the bar is just too much. Do you have any tips to avoid this during the exercise?

    Thank you!

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