Have you been told you need to get stronger glutes? Maybe you have back pain and it’s your go to exercises? Do you simply want to get fitter at home and glute exercises are part of this? Most of us have changed the way we exercise because of COVID. Keep reading below to find simple ways that you can do glute exercises at home and importantly, why you should do them!
But before we start, let’s understand a little more about the glutes.
First, we have the superficial muscle group which includes gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Glute max is the biggest of this group and sits on top of most of the others. It works to extend and rotate the hip joint to help push you forwards in walking or running.
Then we have glute med and glute min. These are smaller superficial muscles and work to take the leg into abduction – pulling it outwards. However, they also work in walking to stop your pelvis dropping down on the static leg. This is an often forgotten movement and highlights why it is important not to just do clams!
There are also a deeper group of muscles which work predominantly to rotate the hip. These include obturator internus, gemellus superior and inferior and quadratus femoris. This group also includes piriformis which I am sure you have all heard of!
Improving your glute strength has loads of benefits. From helping you to run faster and jump higher – perfect if you love sports!
They also help with improving posture, injury prevention and are important in getting you back after an injury as well. This is particularly the case for knee problems, lower back pain and pain around the hip and groin. If you want to pick up heavy things, or even support your back when you are unloading the dishwasher, your glutes can help!
Because of their role in stability and the size of them, they will also help you to feel better in your normal day! If you have a strong and solid base, then other exercises become easier. You will also feel better in normal activities like walking, going up stairs or even running.
If you have a current injury, are just recovering from surgery, or experience pain, we may have to modify some of the exercises below. However, if you are not sure then just ask.
The key to our at home glute exercise is to do them with control and at the right tempo. We focus below on when you should be moving quicker for power and slower for that control so don’t forget to follow along to really get those glutes firing!
All these moves can be performed without weights or any props. However, if you want, you can also use resistance bands. or weights. We have detailed below where these can come in. But remember, your form should not change if you increase the challenge!
Most importantly, concentrate on your form, turn up the volume so you can hear us and if you feel it in your back or on the side of your hip only let us know so we can help!
1. Double and single leg bridge
The bridge is an amazing exercise and really easy to do.
Start by lying on your back. If you feel your head is tipped backwards a lot, grab yourself a small pillow. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor. Let your arms rest by your side.
On your exhale, press into your feet and let your pelvis start to lift up. Stop when your pelvis is in a straight line to your chest. You should be able to feel your shoulder blades still on the floor.
Inhale at the top and pause. On your next exhale, pull your heels towards your bottom and lay your spine back down along the mat.
Repeat 15 times.
For the single leg version, your setup is exactly the same. However, this time, lift one leg off the floor and hold it in table top (90/90 position).
Exhale to lift. Try to keep your pelvis level and not tipping to one side. Try to also keep your resting thigh vertical rather than coming across your body.
Inhale and pause at the top, really driving into your heel. Then exhale to slowly lay yourself back down.
Repeat 12 times each leg
The further away your feet are from your bottom the harder this exercise will be on your hamstrings (back of your thigh).
If you feel your back working a lot tuck your tailbone under a little more and pull your heels towards your bottom to activate the back of your legs.
Use a ball at your knees during the double leg version if your knees are falling outwards and a resistance band if your knees are coming inwards.
Try to keep your head still on the mat so that you are getting space in your spine and not compressing.
Check in with a pelvic clock if you are unsure whether your pelvis is level.
This is a great exercise partly because it is so simple to do!
It also works the whole of the back of your body and best of all, the double leg version can be used for everyone! If you have acute back pain, you can just modify your range as you do not need to go up as high.
You can progress this exercise by adding a weight at your hips. But remember, not at the expense of your form!
2. Donkey kicks and fire hydrants
A favourite of ours, these work the glutes for both stability and strength.
On all fours, make sure your hands are under your shoulders and the front of your thigh is vertical to the floor. This will mean your weight is slightly back in your legs.
Do a few cat/cows to help you find your neutral spine. If you are unsure, check by going sideways to a mirror. This is really important as keeping this neutral will ensure you can isolate the glutes a little more.
Keep pressing into the mat with your hands so your upper body stays strong.
Bend one knee and bring your heel towards your bottom.
Exhale to slide the knee away from you so the foot goes up towards the ceiling. Stop when you start to come out of your neutral spine. For most people this is a lot sooner than you think!
Pause at the top and then return the leg to the floor without touching the knee to the floor.
Repeat this 20 times each leg.
For fire hydrants, you are doing exactly the same but taking the leg out to the side of the room.
Move out on your exhale and back towards the floor on your inhale. Again, try to have a little pause at the top. Try to keep the pelvis level rather than it tipping over. Again, it will be a smaller movement than you think if you really want to have an isolated glute exercise.
Occasionally look between your arms to make sure that the static leg always remains vertical. This will really fire up all the muscles around your hip and ensure you are targeting the area better.
Once you have looked make sure you bring your neck back up so that it is in line with the back of your body. Again, great for posture and stopping your head going forwards in sitting!
This exercise can be modified for those with wrist problems so that you are on your elbows.
It is great for people with osteoporosis as weight bearing is key for bone strength.
Again, if you really focus on your form this exercise is suitable for most people as it will not overstress the back. Due to the position it will also work all your postural muscles so will help hold you up against gravity.
If you struggle to kneel, try a cushion under your knees, otherwise we can find you a more suitable exercise!
To progress this exercise, you can use a band around your thighs. Remember that the static leg needs to remain vertical!
3. Side lying glutes
Another favourite glute building exercise because again it requires nothing except determination!
In this video we are doing it with a straight arm. At the start we go through the following positions so just check in. If a straight arm is too much for you, you can modify the exercise to come onto your elbow with your hips up, elbow with hips down, or simply laying your head on a pillow and just moving the legs.
For this exercise, put your hand down onto the mat and make sure it is slightly in front of your hips, facing towards the top front corner of the mat.
Bend the bottom knee and make sure it is just in front of your pelvis. Then, push into the hand and into the bottom leg and lift up your hips, making sure that they are pushing forwards to keep your body in line.
Straighten the top leg and keep the knee really straight. Pull the toes and ankle towards your nose and really reach away with your heel.
On an exhale, lift the leg straight up towards the ceiling, pause and on the inhale lower.
Repeat this 12 times then on the 13th hold it at the top.
With the heel, make small circles in one direction. Again, try to keep your spine neutral.
Repeat this 12 times then on the 13th reverse the direction, still using your heel.
Repeat this 12 times then on the 13th bend the top knee as if you are doing a single leg squat. Exhale to push through the heel and straighten the leg again.
Repeat this 12 times then on the 13th leave the knee bent and take the knee towards the ceiling and foot towards the floor so you are in a clam shape.
Tap the heel to the floor behind you, then lift up and tap to the floor in front of you.
Repeat 12 times and then lower yourself down and rest!
When lifting up and down, make sure the leg doesn’t creep forwards, but stays in line with your body.
Your bottom leg should be working quite a lot to stabilise your body and stop your rotating a lot.
If you cannot get through the whole series, then slowly work through the setup modifications rather than just giving up. This way you will get stronger!
This is a great exercise as again it is in weight bearing for the arms, something most of us don’t do very much of! It is great for osteoporosis and with the setup modifications, it is suitable for pretty much everyone!
If you have pelvic or back pain, have had complications in your pregnancy or have pain after giving birth, please let us know so we can help you!
A scooter is one of our favourite at home glute building exercises.
It is suitable for everyone. You can use support if you struggle with balance and it is an amazing warm up exercise for runners and walkers alike.
It is so functional because it is in standing so will really help improve your ability to go upstairs, walk for longer, jog and generally have better posture.
Rest your hands on the support if needed and sit your hips back and down.
Transfer the weight over onto one leg, pressing into the heel to fire up the glutes. Your standing shin should be relatively vertical. This is like the start of a deadlift!
Slide the moving leg behind you until the knee is completely straight. Then fold at the hip and bring the leg back in. Try to keep as little weight as possible in the moving leg.
Repeat 20 times on one leg
Then on the 21st time, leave the back leg out to straight.
Put the same side hand as this on your rib cage. Then slide the hand across the body to the static leg hip. Reach around the back of the leg and slide the hand down the outside of the leg. This should have caused you to rotate and bend forwards.
Pause at the bottom and then reverse the arm slide.
Repeat 10 times before changing legs to do the whole sequence again.
If you had a very thick mat, stand on the floor so that your balance is not challenged as much.
You can do this sideways onto a wall for support or can use a chair in front of you if you need two hands. Try not to grip but instead just rest the hand. This way you will challenge yourself slowly.
If you cannot let go of support for all of them, try doing it for some and then using the support for others. Again, you need gradual progression.
If you have a mirror close by this is great for seeing the position of the static leg. Remember, the big toe, little toe and heel should all stay on the floor equally. This will mean you’re using your glutes to keep the knee in line with your toes, not your ankle!
For the rotation, make sure you are not bending the knee. Your pelvis should be rotating over your hip to really fire up those stability glutes!
If you have any back pain, please check with us or your treating physio to see whether this is appropriate for you.
5. Curtsy squats
A curtsy squat is an advanced exercise and one which is great to work towards. It is perfect for doing at home if you are looking for glute building exercises.
Standing on one leg, slowly, lower yourself down and try to get your floating knee to the outside of the static ankle.
On your exhale, drive through your heel to stand back fully straight.
This is a short and sweet exercise. Repeat up to 8 times on each leg. But remember, we are looking for quality!
You do not have to reach your ankle, but you can aim for the outside of your shin. The twist in your pelvis is how we get your glutes to fire more!
Use light support if you need to!
You can have a chair behind you, against a wall, or do it in front of a sofa if you are worried about falling.
This exercise is amazing for building strength throughout the leg, whilst challenging your balance. It will help you with power, stability and control!
Because this exercise is very high level, it is not appropriate for anyone with a current injury or pain. It is also not suitable in the early stages after birth.
However, if you are looking to get strong, have no injuries and want to do glute exercises at home, this is a great challenge!
How can Complete Pilates help you with at home glute building?
At Complete Pilates, we specialise in physio led Pilates. This means that we really do understand your injuries, pain and how we can help.
Pilates is an amazing tool which can be used for anyone. This means whether you are an elite athlete wanting to supplement your training to build control, or have an injury, just had surgery, or are recovering from an illness, we can help.
Your glutes are not only there to provide power, they are also there to help in your stability and control. Pilates is renowned for working all those deep muscles and making you feel all those muscles you didn’t know you had!
Although we love to use the Pilates equipment, we can definitely work you hard on the mat. These glute exercises at home give you an idea of some of the things that you may see in classes with us.
At Complete Pilates we offer online group classes, which are designed for a variety of abilities, as well as 1:1 Pilates sessions. If you have an injury and want to know how we can help, or if these exercises may be appropriate for you, please do get in touch.
We look forward to hearing from you soon! In the meantime, enjoy these glute exercises you can do at home!