3 Moves to Super-Charge Your Glute Training

By Meghan Callaway

The glutes are the largest, and arguably, the most influential muscle group in the human body. This powerhouse, which I often refer to as the “master muscle group,” plays an integral role in providing the strength and stability needed to thrive in the gym, in sports, and in daily life. The glutes also play a key role in alignment, as well as joint and muscle health. The bottom line (pun very intended) is that strong glutes matter.

Glute Anatomy 101

The glutes consist of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.

The glute maximus, the most visible of the three and the largest muscle in the human body, is a powerful hip extensor that also assists in the abduction and external rotation of the femur, and the stabilization of the knee.

The glute medius and minimus muscles serve as the main stabilizers of the pelvis and femur and externally rotate and abduct the femur. Though these two muscles are often neglected or treated as an afterthought when training glutes, they play a vital role in the alignment of the hips, knees, ankles, and feet, and aid in injury prevention and overall performance, especially in single-leg exercises and movements.

These three exercises will help you improve the overall strength, performance, and development of your glutes. Watch the videos and read the coaching tips below, then give ‘em a try

Barbell Glute Bridge With Band Abduction

This extremely challenging and effective exercise combines a barbell glute bridge with banded abductions. The hip extension movement targets your gluteus maximus, while the banded abductions work your medius and minimus muscles. I won’t lie: if you are performing this exercise correctly, your glutes will be on fire.

Equipment Needed:

You will need a barbell, weight plates, and a resistance band to perform this exercise. If you are not able to perform this exercise with 45-pound plates yet, and don’t have access to lighter bumper plates, you might need to ask someone to help lift the barbell into the starting position and help you remove it when you’re done.

Instructions and Coaching Tips:

  • Lie on your back on the floor. You can rest your head on a foam mat if it’s more comfortable.
  • Place a low- to medium-resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees and position the barbell so that it’s resting in your hip crease. For added comfort, I recommend that you wrap the bar with a towel, a folded yoga mat, a foam pad, or a hip thrust pad.
  • Keep your shins in a relatively vertical position to prevent your hamstrings from taking over. You can turn your feet out slightly if it feels more comfortable.
  • Grip the barbell on either side of your hips and straighten your elbows. Keeping your arms rigid, drive them into your sides (imagine that you’re crushing something in your armpits).
  • Gently press your knees out against the band. The band should have enough tension to challenge your glutes, but not so much that other muscle groups start to take over.
  • Before you initiate the movement, inhale deeply through your nose, engage your core, actively tuck your ribs toward your hips, and squeeze your glutes. This will dramatically increase your lumbo-pelvic stability, safeguard your back, and increase your ability to generate force with your glutes.
  • Extend your hips by pressing through your heels and middle of your feet (keep your toes on the floor), and squeezing your glutes. Avoid hyperextending your back and flaring your ribcage. This is extremely important.
  • Maintain your spine in neutral alignment for the duration of the exercise. At the top position, your body should form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Hold at the top position by squeezing your glutes and bracing your core. Perform two to three glute abductions and then return to the starting position, controlling the movement with your glutes.
  • Maintain tension in the band for the duration of the exercise, including when you are on the ground.
  • Reset and repeat.


You can make this exercise easier by performing it with less resistance. This might mean using a band with less tension, or removing some weight from the barbell.


You can make this exercise more challenging by performing negative reps and taking three to five seconds on the way back down, using more resistance (additional weight on the bar or a thicker band). You can also stop each rep just short of touching the ground. If you do not touch the ground between reps, your muscles will remain under tension for the duration of the set.

Band-Resisted Negative 1.5-Rep Bulgarian Goblet Squat

This innovative exercise will absolutely torch your glutes more than most single-leg exercises you’ve tried before.

Equipment Needed:

You will need a bench or box, a resistance band, and a kettlebell or dumbbell to perform this exercise.

Instructions and Coaching Tips:

  • Start in a split stance position resting the rear foot on a bench or box. Loop a band under the middle of your standing foot, and position the band on your upper traps. Avoid letting the band sit on your neck.
  • Keeping a level pelvis, squeeze your glutes and push your hips forward a few inches to load the standing (working) leg. Your standing leg should be doing as close to 100 percent of the work as possible.
  • Distribute your weight over the heel and the middle of your standing foot, keeping your toes in contact with the ground, particularly your first and last toes.
  • Keep a slight forward lean in your torso, maintaining your spine in neutral alignment with your head, torso, and hips in a stacked position.
  • Before each rep, inhale deeply through your nose, engage your core, and actively tuck your ribs towards your hips.
  • Perform a split squat taking three seconds to lower, come up halfway, lower back down, then stand up to return to the starting position. This is one rep.
  • Squeeze the quad, hamstring, and glute of your front leg and press your body up (rather than pushing backward which would transfer the weight to your back leg).
  • Your body should travel in a vertical path the entire time. Imagine that you have a wall directly in front and behind you, and if your body travels forward or backward, your body will come into contact with the wall.
  • Control the movement with your muscles rather than dropping down mindlessly.
  • Lock out at the top by squeezing your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.
  • For the duration of the exercise, maintain tension in the band at all times, avoid flaring your ribcage or hyperextending your lower back, keep your head, torso, and hips in a stacked position, and keep your front knee in line with your toes
  • You can either exhale at the very top when you are finishing the rep, or as you are ascending on the half rep, and quickly inhale before completing the descending half rep.
  • Reset and repeat.


You can make this exercise easier by using a band with less resistance, performing regular split squats using 1.5 reps, or performing the rear-foot-elevated split squats for standard rep.


You can make this exercise more challenging by using a thicker band with more tension or by adding extra weight with a kettlebell, dumbbell, or barbell. 

Double-Banded Toe Taps

You can include this deceptively challenging glute exercise as part of your warm-up for your lower body or conditioning exercises, or perform it at the end of your workout as a glute finisher.

Equipment Needed:

You will need two resistance bands to perform this exercise.

Instructions and Coaching Tips:

  • Position one resistance band just above your knees, and one directly below, or around your ankles. If the bands vary in thickness, the thicker band should be above the knees.
  • Start in a quarter squat stance, keeping a slight forward lean in your torso with your spine in neutral alignment (head, torso, and hips stacked).
  • Distribute your weight over the heel and the middle of your standing foot, keeping your toes in contact with the ground, particularly your first and last toes.
  • Lightly reach out to the side with your other leg, then return to the starting position and repeat. When your leg is moving laterally, the glute of the standing leg must work big-time to stabilize your pelvis, femur, and knee.
  • For the duration of the exercise, maintain tension in the bands, keep your core muscles engaged and your rib cage tucked down toward your hips, and aim to breathe as regularly as you can, taking deep breaths into your belly through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth. Avoid rotation in your torso, spine, or hips, and don’t allow your body to lean toward the side of the working glute.


You can make this exercise easier by using a single band above your knees, or by using bands with less resistance.


You can make this exercise more challenging by using bands with more resistance. You can also hold onto a kettlebell in a goblet position or with arms extended in front of you. Both of these options will increase the amount of work both your quads and anterior core will have to do.

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About the author:  Meghan Callaway

Meghan Callaway is a strength coach in Vancouver, Canada with over 14 years of experience coaching a wide array of clients from elite athletes, to post-physical therapy rehabilitative strength training, as well as everyday people who want to feel, perform, and function at a higher level. Meghan is the creator of the recently released Ultimate Pull-Up Program, and believes that working out should be fun, mentally and physically rewarding, and empowering. Meghan has an extensive athletic background and has played competitive soccer for 27 years, and also grew up playing ice hockey and baseball on boys teams. Connect with Meghan on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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