Glute Isolation Exercises to Add to Your Next Butt Workout

Plus, why you don't want to go overboard when it comes to dedicated glute isolation workouts.

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If you've ever sought out a butt-focused workout in hopes of focusing on growing your peach, you're certainly not alone. The hashtag #gluteworkout spans more than 980k posts on Instagram and has racked up 746 million views on TikTok. If "bubble butt," or "booty blaster," or "juicy glute" workouts are of interest, they're all a few taps away.

Said workouts may incorporate compound exercises, glute isolation exercises, or a combination of both. "Compound movements [such as squats or deadlifts] are movements that articulate around more than one joint," says Lexi Moreno, an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and performance coach on the app Future. Because of this, compound exercises are also able to target multiple muscle groups at a time. They're better for building functional strength and power and generally give you the best "bang for your buck."

Isolation exercises, on the other hand, require the movement of a single joint and therefore target fewer muscles during the exercise. Technically, "glute isolation" is a bit of an oxymoron. "It is impossible to isolate the group of muscles we refer to as the glutes," says Moreno. "Muscles that make up the quads, hamstrings, and trunk step in one way or another. But that doesn't mean some exercises don't recruit the glutes more than others." (

While butt-focused exercises may seem like a smart strategy if booty building is your main goal, stacking your workouts solely with glute isolation exercises is inefficient, to put it simply. Consider the squat, a classic compound exercise for targeting the glutes that also works the quads, hamstrings, and core muscles, and the deadlift, which "trains basically every muscle on the backside of your body" as well as your quads, lats, and biceps, says certified personal trainer Mike Matthews, author of Muscle for Life.

Now consider if you replace these compound exercises with isolation moves that work each of those musclesseparately, you quickly realize "you're going to spend a lot [more] time in the gym," says Matthews. "You're now looking at literally twice the amount of time to train," he adds.

In fact, if you're a beginner, you may be better off skipping glute isolation exercises altogether, says Matthews. "People who are just starting out really only need to do fundamental, lower body training to give their glutes maximum training stimulus," he says. "It's not productive for somebody new to do, for example, 10 to 12 hard sets per week for the lower body, through squatting, through deadlifting, through lunging, and then do another 10 sets of glutes. It just means more time in the gym for really no additional muscle gain." (

Matthews believes glute isolation exercises can be useful to intermediate to advanced exercisers who have been consistently training for more than a year but still want to up their glute development. Adding "a little bit of additional glute training volume just to get that muscle group to grow a little bit faster" can help in these cases, he says. Refresher: training volume = reps x sets x weight. You can achieve that extra volume by incorporating sets of exercises that aim to reach muscle failure — when you can't do even one more rep by the end — within your weekly workouts, explains Matthews. (

When in doubt, a trainer can help you figure out which glute-focused exercises you should be incorporating and how often, depending on your goal. To give you a sense of what some common glute exercises may look like, take a look at these glute isolation exercises from Moreno and Matthews.

Best Glute Isolation Exercises

How it works: Sprinkle these glute isolation exercises into your lower-body workout days that also include compound movements. Perform each exercise up to twice per week.

What you'll need: a mini resistance band and dumbbells or a barbell. (While these tools are optional, they can add more resistance or load if you're looking to increase your volume and/or can help activate sleepy glutes to ensure you're able to adequately engage those muscles throughout the exercise.)

Glute Bridge

A. Lie on back, feet hip-width apart, abs engaged, arms straight with palms flat on the floor. For (optional) added intensity, loop a mini resistance band above knees or place a dumbbell or barbell on top of hips.

B. Keeping shoulders and feet on the ground, squeeze glutes and press hips up toward the ceiling until body forms one line from chest to knees.

C. Pause, then slowly lower hips back to starting position.

Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps.

Glute Kickback

A. Clip an ankle strap attachment to a cable machine and wrap the strap around one ankle. Select enough weight to allow just 1 or 2 more good reps at the end of the set (coming close to muscle failure but not to it). Lean slightly forward and keep back straight and core engaged throughout entire movement.

B. Engage glutes and kick the leg attached to the machine up and back with control. Pause at the top, then lower leg back down to return to start.

Tip: You can also perform this glute isolation exercise at home with a long resistance band. Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Loop the middle of the resistance band around one heel and anchor other ends in your hands. Engage glutes and kick leg back with control. Pause at the top, then lower leg back down to return to start.

Do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Bulgarian Split Squat

A. Stand on one leg with other leg extended backward, top of foot resting on a bench, and a dumbbell in each hand by sides. Choose a weight that allows for just 1 or 2 more good reps at the end of the set (coming close to muscle failure but not to it).

B. Lower into a squat on standing leg, keeping chest lifted and standing knee in line with foot. If possible, lower until front thigh is parallel to the ground.

C. Engage glutes to straighten (but not lock) standing leg.

Do 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Hip Abduction

A. Start seated in a hip abduction machine or on a bench with a mini resistance band looped above knees, legs together.

B. Keeping knees bent at 90 degree angles, squeeze glutes and press legs away from each other. Pause, continuing to squeeze glutes, then bring legs back together with control to return to start.

Do 2 sets of 20 reps.

Mini Band Lateral Walk

A. Loop a mini resistance band right above knees. Bend knees and shift hips back as if sitting in a chair.

B. Step right foot out wide to side, then step left foot halfway in, keeping tension on the band.

D. From there, step out with left foot and step halfway in with right foot.

E. Continue to step back and forth, making sure to stay in a deep squat the entire time.

Do 2 sets of 20 reps.

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