Upper Glute Workout: 14 Exact Exercises That Cure Flat Upper Buttocks

Workout Plans | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 18 April 2023

A woman is doing an upper glute workout as she squats down in a body weight squat in the middle of her living room that has a grey couch, blue and pink pillows, and teal curtains and she's wearing a grey long-sleeve top, white shoes, and grey yoga pants.

The upper glute workout plan seen below combines many of the 14 exact exercises that cure a flat upper buttocks and build a plump rump.8

But before we delve into the actual workout routine, let’s take a look at the best upper glute exercises and how to do them at home, or in the gym so you can kiss that flat booty goodbye.

What Exercises Lift Your Buttocks? (Best Gluteus Maximus Exercises That Get Rid of Flat Upper Buttocks)

There are a number of good lower body exercises that help to harden muscles, lift the butt and remove the appearance of a flat upper buttocks.

With that being said, some exercises are better to incorporate than others! Below is a detailed list of exercises that are guaranteed to lift the buttocks, target the upper glute muscles, and help define and tone the posterior region.

They can easily fit into a lifter’s 6 week powerlifting program or can be used on their own to form an individualized workout plan.

Sometimes buttocks sculpting isn’t the only goal. Lifters who want to learn how to get skinny fast are in luck, because these exercises will help muscle growth while burning so many calories per workout. The drop in body fat, especially around the waist, will further help to lift and increase the appearance of buttocks size. 

1. Cable Glute Kickbacks

The glute kickback exercise is a movement that specifically targets all the glute muscles of the buttocks, especially the gluteus maximus.

This provides the glute with a tight and lifted appearance, and helps to rid weight lifters of the dreaded flat upper butt. Due to the dynamic movement of this exercise, glute kickbacks will also engage the core and aid in the development of hip stability. 

To do a kickback, attach the ankle to the cable with an ankle cuff. Lifters will face the machine with their feet hip or shoulder width apart with slight tension on the cable.

Next, flex the hips so that the chest is parallel-ish to the floor keeping a tight core. From this position, lift the leg straight back, keeping the knees slightly bent.

Try to hold this position for a moment before slowly lowering the leg back down to the resting position. Complete the amount of desired reps before switching to the other leg. 

Want to try the seated machine instead? That’s alright. One study found no difference between the use of either methods when it came to strength and fitness outcomes.1

2. Machine Hip Abduction 

Machine hip abduction targets the outer muscles of the hips, specifically called the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. These are located in the upper buttocks region and are ideal for lifting and toning the posterior. 

The machine hip abduction uses a seated position with the outside of the knee resting against the pads of the equipment. Because this exercise is seated, the glute muscles can be isolated to really tone and lift the muscles.

This does not require balance, making it more difficult to cause injury. Therefore, it is a good exercise for beginners and those who struggle with stability, 

First, sit on a hip abduction machine with the feet resting on the footplate, knees resting against the pads, and hands placed on the handles located at the sides of the machine.

Next, lifters will open their legs away from the body, which is called abduction. Lifters should attempt to engage in full range of motion before bringing the legs back towards midline. 

Must Try Upper Glute Exercises for Strength & Size (How To Build Upper Glutes)

If muscular hypertrophy, or more commonly known as muscle size and strength building, is the goal, then the exercises detailed below are required to be included for the ultimate upper glute workout.

These movements will target all glute muscles, as well as other muscles in the leg to give the appearance of a well sculpted posterior. 

Using weighted exercises can increase the risk of injury.

Lifters wondering what causes in the upper thigh and groin area should limit their lower body activity until they address their health concerns. They should also be aware of sports injury related symptoms

3. Back Squats

Squats are a very popular exercise that targets all the glute muscles, in addition to the hamstrings or “hammies” and quadriceps or “quad” muscles located on the back and front of the upper thigh respectively. Squats are the ideal exercise for building muscle size and strength, especially in the upper glute area of the body. 

Squats variations can include front squats which are great for targeting the quadriceps or “quad” muscles in the thigh, back squats in which weight is distributed with a barbell across the muscles of the upper back and shoulders, and sumo squats with toes facing outwards to target the inner thigh or hip adduction muscles. 

A woman wearing a red tank top, black shorts and white shoes has blonde hair and is doing a barbell back squat inside a gym with grey and orange carpet and there's red gym machines in the background.

Source: Slatan via Canva.com9

Out of all the variations of squats, the back squat is the best for adding overall strength and size of the gluteal muscles. It’s a glute and hamstring dominant exercise, and is key to incorporate to build the buttocks.

Lifters who want to maximize their strength and size should aim to complete a low amount of reps per set with a high amount of weight, so loading up the barbell with a heavy but appropriate amount of weight will help lifters to best reach their glute strength and size goals.2

Furthermore, squatting has additional benefits such as being a compound movement meaning it involves multiple joints. This leads to improved stability and balance outcomes while targeting multiple muscle groups at once. 

To back squat, try using a squat rack or smith machine to add weight to. Make sure the bar is resting slightly below shoulder height.

There is a fitness debate in using high bar vs low bar squat placement, so weight lifters should explore the difference to understand which is best for their needs.

Start with feet hip-width apart with the hands lifted to aid in the support of the squat bar. Next, lower the body as if until the thighs are parallel to the floor and the knees are flexed at 90 degrees. With the weight placed in the heels, the chest should remain facing upward for postural stability.

Lifters will then stand back up to the starting position, and repeat until the number of reps a set calls for is complete.

4. Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are ideal for those wanting to build both strength and muscle size in the glutes. It is a compound exercise, which allows for multiple muscle groups to be targeted to maximize the efficiency of a workout.

Because hip thrusts engage the muscles that support the hip joint, this exercise will lead to increased blood flow to this region.

This provides the surrounding ligaments and tendons with nutrients leading to lower instances of hip injury and lower back pain. 

A woman in grey pants and a white tank top is doing banded hip thrusts inside a studio that has TRX rack in the background and wooden decoration hanging on the walls.

Source: Philippe Degroote via Canva.com10

To perform a hip thrust, a weight lifter will start by sitting on the ground with their upper back region placed firmly against a bench or similarly elevated surface. Next, place a weighted barbell or dumbbell across the hips.

The knees will be placed at a 90-degree angle of flexion, with feel placed flat on the ground. Next, the lifter will push through their heels and squeeze the glute muscles to raise their hips.

This will cause the body to form a straight line from the shoulders to the knees that is parallel to the floor. Lifters will slowly lower their hips back to the starting position and then repeat for the amount of reps required for muscle fatigue. 

5. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a body builder’s staple for a reason. Not only does this exercise target all the muscles in the glutes; it also engages the hamstrings located in the back of the thighs, and back muscles including the lats and traps.

And don’t worry, it’s okay to use squat and deadlift same day exercise programs. 

Much like squats, deadlifts are a compound exercise, which are important to use to achieve results. In fact, research shows that compound movements will significantly increase muscle strength as compared to simplified movement patterns.3

Furthermore, deadlifts can aid in the improvement of posture, helping to prevent posture related ailments and spine injuries down the line. 

In order to perform the deadlift exercise, lifters should start by standing with their feet roughly hip-width apart and the toes pointing straight ahead or slightly turned outwards.

Next, lifters should place their hands on the barbell with an overhand grip with the palms facing downward or in supination. The knees should be slightly bent to lower the hips when grasping the bar, and the back should be straight.

Next, lift the barbell off the ground by extending the hip and knee joints. Make sure to squeeze the glutes or buttocks region of the body to really engage the muscle, and push the hips forward when entering into a standing position.

Carefully lower the bar to the ground by flexing the hips and knees while keeping the back straight.

When engaging in compound exercises such as the ones above, it’s vital to incorporate a protein shakes diet plan to maximize muscle growth and aid in recovery.

Best Upper Glute Exercises With Weights (Top Upper Butt Workout Equipment To Try)

While most of the exercises discussed above are weighted or use resistance to engage the upper glute muscles, the exercise below is the best to use in combination with weights to build the upper glute muscles. Those wanting a great upper glute workout should aim to incorporate this into their glute routine. 

6. Back Extension or “Good Mornings”

This is a compound exercise which is known to aid in muscle building, and is a lower back upper glute workout exercise as well as hamstring targeting movement too. These muscles are part of what is referred to as the posterior chain, and can be engaged with back extension and deadlift exercises.4

It also helps with building core stability by engaging the deep muscles in the back and all the layers of the abdominals. 

A lifter using the good morning exercise should start by standing with their feet hip or shoulder width apart and knees loosely bent. A barbell will be placed across the upper back with an overhand grip, similar to a back squat placement. 

Next, with shoulders pulled back for erect spine posture, the lifter will flex at the hip joint while engaging the core and glute muscles.

The hips will hinge forward as the body is lowered towards the floor. Lifters should aim to complete full range of motion with the chest placed parallel to the ground. The lifter will then engage in hip extension to return to the start position. 

How To Build Upper Glutes Without a Gym

The glutes can be the hardest muscle to grow, and people tend to think that it’s impossible to build without a gym. But the good news is that gym equipment is not necessary to build the upper glute muscles!

There are many exercises that can be done to work the legs and build the upper glute muscles without the help of fancy machines, squat racks, and heavy weights. Men and women without gym memberships are encouraged to utilize the body weight movements below to target this muscle group and maximize glute hypertrophy, or more simply put, muscle building. 

Body Weight Movements To Build Glutes (No Equipment Glute Exercises)

Engaging in body weight exercise is a great way to target muscle groups while providing minimal stress on the joints involved in the movements utilized. Any of the exercises below can be completed with only body weight, making them ideal for those wanting to cure their flat bottom but with no gym equipment. 

7. Body Weight Squats

Body weight squats will hit all the glute muscles for a great upper glute workout, with the added benefit of engaging the hamstrings or “hammies,” which are the back of the thigh muscles, and the quadriceps or “quads,” which are the front of the thigh muscles. In addition to targeting the entire lower body, body weight squats will put less stress on the spine making them much less likely to cause an injury. 

A muscular Black man wearing a black tank top and pants and earphones is performing body weight squats outdoors on a concrete surface, he has a focused expression on his face, and his arms are extended forward for balance.

Source: PeopleImages via Canva.com11

To complete a bodyweight squat, simply stand with the feet hip-width apart and lower your body as if sitting back into a chair. Try to keep knees behind the toes and be sure to keep the weight in your heels during this movement.

Once the knees are flexed at 90 degrees, push back up to the starting position.

Research notes that varying foot angle can be used with good results, but reports increased risk of injury with overly narrow or wide stances.5

8. Fire Hydrants

This exercise specifically targets the gluteus medius muscle, which is located at the upper buttocks region, as well as the hip abductor muscles which are located on the sides of the buttocks. It can be used to help strengthen, build muscle size, improve overall tone, as well as engage the core for stability. 

This exercise is performed in a quadruped position, meaning on all fours with hands and knees placed firmly on the ground to support the lifter’s bodyweight. Make sure the core is tight and engaged.

Next, the lifter should lift one leg out to the side, while keeping the knee and foot in roughly 90 degrees of flexion. The movement should resemble a dog lifting its leg to pee, hence the appropriately named exercise.

Slowly lower the leg back down to the starting position. Lifters can either alternate legs or complete all reps for one leg before moving on to the other. 

9. Body Weight Glute Bridges

Glute bridges are an ideal body weight exercise that targets all three gluteal muscles that form the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. This exercise will improve glute size, shape, and tone these muscles and is ideal to incorporate when gym access is not feasible. 

Along with adding muscle size and overall shaping, this exercise will increase hip and pelvic stability by strengthening the muscles around the hips and pelvis bones. As a result, posture will be noticeably improved while decreasing the instance of back pain and hip tightness. 

To complete a glute bridge, lifters should lie on their back with their knees bent and feet completely flat on the ground.

Next, lift the hips into the air to full extension, squeezing your glutes or butt muscles at the top of the movement. Slowly lower the hips back down to the starting position before completing another rep.

Dumbbell Glute Exercises (Glute Workouts for Women & Men) 

Dumbbells’ glute exercises are easy to do and since dumbbells’ are so accessible, they can be done nearly anywhere. There’s countless variations of each exercise and many can be done with barbells too.  

10. Dumbbell Lunges (Walking, Standing, or Reverse Variations)

Lunges are a great glute exercise to help build the upper butt region. Reverse lunges are a glute dominant movement and are ideal for building the upper glute muscles, whereas the standard forward lunge will be more quad dominant.

Walking lunges have their own set of benefits, as they require stability and balance due to the dynamic movement involved. For those wanting to build their buttocks, all variations will target the glute muscles, but reverse lunges might be best to try. 

Knowing what the walking, standing, and reverse lunges muscles worked can help you target different muscles, and keep your workouts fresh and exciting.

To complete a standard lunge, the lifter will step forward with one foot and lower their body until their thigh is about parallel to the ground. Next, they will push back up to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.

A reverse lunge will look the same, however the step will be backwards rather than forwards. 

11. Dumbbell Step Ups 

Step ups are a body weight movement that can help to both build and strengthen the upper glute muscles, in addition to the quads and hammies in the thigh, and the muscles in the calves. Additionally, this exercise can also improve overall balance and coordination because it is a complex dynamic movement.

It can also be a form of aerobic exercise, or exercise requiring oxygen to complete, and improves cardiovascular fitness and endurance. 

All that is required for step ups is a stable, elevated surface such as a bench, chair, or steps and a pair of appropriately weighted dumbbells. To complete this exercise, place one foot on the elevated surface and simply step up onto the surface.

Lifters should be pushing through their heels to lift the body upwards. Step back down with the same leg and then repeat these actions with the other leg.

Some research suggests that lateral or side moving step ups result in more glute activation than forward facing step ups, so using this variation may be beneficial to further target the buttocks muscles.6

Band Glute Exercises (Banded Upper Glute Workout Exercises)

Bands are a fantastic alternative to dumbbells due to being cost efficient and easy to travel with.

They also provide a great deal of resistance, upping the intensity of many of the body weight exercises detailed above. Make sure to try out banded upper clue exercises to cure that flat upper butt. 

12. Resistance Band Hip Abduction 

Much like the aforementioned machine hip abduction exercise, this exercise targets the hip abductors and more importantly, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus of the upper buttocks. Because dynamic movement is being used, this will also improve overall stability and balance while also engaging the core.

For this exercise, use a resistance band placed around the legs above the knee. The tension should be taught when standing with feet shoulder length apart.

Lifters will start with their feet together and hands placed on hips. Next, they will slightly bend the supporting leg and lift the other leg laterally, or to the side.

This is called abduction. Try to hold the position at full abduction for a brief moment before lowering the leg back down to the starting position.

Complete the amount of reps necessary before repeating on the other leg. 

Best Cardio Upper Butt Workout 

There’s upper glute workout machines and free weights, but throwing cardio into the mix is a great way to really feel those glutes and encourage growth. 

13. Jump Squats

Much like body weight squats, jump squats is a great workout that engages the muscles of the upper butt while also providing intense cardio. Simply add a vertical jump to the squat steps detailed above before returning to the start position. 

14. Stair Stepper

This is an intense cardio workout that targets the butt to build the glutes for pristine upper buttock development.

This is very similar to the step up exercise but with consistent cardio to target overall cardiovascular health. The intensity can be varied to meet whatever fitness goals a lifter has in mind.

3 Upper Glute Workout Programs To Build Buttocks (Learn How To Get a Shelf on the Upper Glutes)

The following are great glute programs to incorporate and any one of these routines should be used between two to three times a week, with ample rest days in between workouts to maximize recovery. A glute building workout plan pdf is also available for those seeking a downloadable program to shape their booty.

Program 1: Booty Blasting Routine 

This program has great glute workouts for women with a focus on muscle growth and overall toning. Exercises used include hip thrusts, squats, a deadlift workout, back extensions, and split squats.

To encourage lean muscle building, lifters should aim for 4 sets X 12 reps. Then, each workout they should try to increase the reps, sets, weight, or notice that it’s become easier to do 4×12 before moving up in one of those three ways. This is what’s called progressive overload.

Program 2: Ultimate Glute Workout With the Glute Guy

This is the ideal program for skinny guys who want to build muscle fast, especially in the glutes. Exercises used in this program include hip thrusts, back squat variation, deadlift variation, hamstring curls, front squat variations, and seated hip abduction.

Research shows that the high volume training is great for adding muscular size, but did not produce maximal results in strength performance.7 So to best increase muscle hypertrophy aim for a 3X6 scheme with high weight. 

Program 3: HIIT + Cardio + Glute Blaster

Cardio is great for fat burning, and this program uses cardio based movements along with glute activating movements to help build the buttocks and glute shelf.

Exercises include jumping variations, lateral movement, floor work, squat jump variations, glute bridges and many more creative exercise patterns. This is a timed circuit so reps may vary depending on intensity.

Building the glutes can be hard, but with the exercises above achieving the ultimate sculpted buttocks is entirely possible.

Weight lifters who want to build the upper glutes, lift their buttocks, improve their muscle tone, and overall cure the dreaded flat butt now have the best upper glute workout in their arsenal to reach their fitness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Tell if the Glutes Are Being Worked?

Lifters will feel recruitment from the muscles located in the buttock when engaging in all the exercises noted above. To tell if the glutes are engaged, simply focus on the body part and make a note if the muscle is being squeezed.

How Often Can the Glutes Be Exercised?

This will depend on the intensity of the workout, because higher intensity requires more recovery time. In general, the glutes should only be targeted two or three times per week maximum with rest days in between.

How Long Until I See Glute Results?

The answer varies depending on the person, the frequency of exercise, protein intake, and body fat. Consistency is key, so make sure to stick to a workout program and results should be noticeable in as little as twelve weeks.


References

1Balachandran, A., Martins, M. M., De Faveri, F. G., Alan, O., Cetinkaya, F., & Signorile, J. F. (2016). Functional strength training: Seated machine vs standing cable training to improve physical function in elderly. Experimental gerontology, 82, 131–138. <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2016.06.012>

2Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Van Every, D. W., & Plotkin, D. L. (2021). Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum. Sports (Basel, Switzerland), 9(2), 32. <https://doi.org/10.3390/sports9020032>

3Paoli, A., Gentil, P., Moro, T., Marcolin, G., & Bianco, A. (2017). Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength. Frontiers in physiology, 8, 1105. <https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.01105>

4McAllister, M. J., Hammond, K. G., Schilling, B. K., Ferreria, L. C., Reed, J. P., & Weiss, L. W. (2014). Muscle activation during various hamstring exercises. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 28(6), 1573–1580. <https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000000302>

5Lorenzetti, S., Ostermann, M., Zeidler, F., Zimmer, P., Jentsch, L., List, R., Taylor, W. R., & Schellenberg, F. (2018). How to squat? Effects of various stance widths, foot placement angles and level of experience on knee, hip and trunk motion and loading. BMC sports science, medicine & rehabilitation, 10, 14. <https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-018-0103-7>

6Mercer, V. S., Gross, M. T., Sharma, S., & Weeks, E. (2009). Comparison of gluteus medius muscle electromyographic activity during forward and lateral step-up exercises in older adults. Physical therapy, 89(11), 1205–1214. <https://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20080229>

7Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 51(1), 94–103. <https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764>

8avanti_photo. Canva. Accessed 19 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEcgZOo8ao-woman-working-out-at-home/>

9Slatan. Canva. Accessed 19 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEi6Cge-i8-fitness-woman-doing-barbell-squats/>

10Degroote, Philippe. Canva. Accessed 19 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAFO1y-rsko-fit-woman-doing-hip-thrusts-in-gym/>

11PeopleImages. Canva. Accessed 19 April 2023. <https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEIzDz61q0-get-your-squat-on/>

About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.