When you venture out and try a bunch of different workouts—from Pilates to boot camps to everything in between—you quickly learn that there are so many creative exercises out there that work your glutes. And a lot of them begin to make the staple glute strengthener, aka the squat, look like a piece of cake.
This isn’t to say that the squat should be banished from the rest of your workouts—but a lot of trainers turn to different exercises that activate the same muscles without as much room to get the form wrong. While squats do strengthen your glutes and your quads, if your shoulders are hunched, your gaze is on the ground, or your stance is too small, you won’t reap the strength-boosting benefits that the move is meant to give you.
Instead, challenge yourself to work through one (or all) of these four butt-focused moves, courtesy of P.volve master trainer Maeve McEwen. Note that these exercises are going to hit all of the mini muscles within your bum, so prepare to feel the burn.
The hardest glute exercises (with no squat in sight)
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Hit different angles of your 🍑 with these @pvolve moves! 1) Shift back with midline sweep: Works the base and center glute as you lift and inner thigh/glute as you sweep in. 2) 6:00 Leg Lift to Wide Toe Tap: Works the base and center glute as you lift, outer glute as you tap wide, inner glute/thigh as you return to center lift. 3) External Open Step: External rotation stretches the inner thighs and activates the outer glutes on the open step, and works the inner thighs/low abs as you return to the start position. 4) Internal 45 Fire Hydrant: Internal rotation stretches and strengthens the standing glute. Fire hydrant targets the outer thigh/glute as you lift and works both inner thighs as you close.
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1. Internal 45 fire hydrant
“The internal rotation of this move stretches and strengthens the standing glute,” says McEwen. “It works the lifting outer thigh and glute as you lift, and works both inner thighs as you close.”
Start with your feet hips-width distance and sit back two inches as you squeeze your glutes. Pick up one foot and turn your hips towards your standing leg, and be sure to keep your standing toes pointing forward. Bend your working leg 90-degrees and bring your knees together. Hold the position as you lift straight out to the side into a fire hydrant from your outer glute, then bring the knees back together, working the inner thigh. Try to keep the hips rotated the entire time. Repeat six to eight times on each side.
2. Open step
McEwen points out that the external rotation of the open step stretches out your inner thighs while activating the outer glutes on the step, and it works the inner thigh and low abs as you return to the neutral starting position.
Start with your feet hips-width distance apart and sit back two inches as you squeeze your glutes. Keep your standing leg facing forward and step out to the side with your working leg. When you land, your feet should be perpendicular. Hold the open-step position and continue to squeeze the glutes as you sit further back. Use the standing inner thigh and lower abs to return to the starting position. Repeat six to eight times on each side.
3. Six o’clock leg lift to wide toe tap
“The six o’clock leg lift works the base and center glute as you lift, the outer glute as you tap wide, and inner glute and thigh as you return to the center lift,” says McEwen. You’ll be hitting all of your glute muscles with this one.
Start with one leg directly behind you at six o’clock and shift your weight forward into your standing heel. Lift your leg directly up from your glute, keeping the spine long and abs engaged. Take the leg wide and gently toe tap the floor, then return to the six o’clock leg lift position. Be sure to reach the leg long the entire time and keep the shoe laces facing forward. Repeat six to eight times on each side.
4. Shift back with midline sweep
You’ll feel this one in the base and center of your glute muscles as you lift. “Your inner thigh and glute will also be working as you sweep in,” says McEwen.
Start on all fours and then take your hands a few inches in front of you. Squeeze your glutes and shift back into your hips. Reach one leg long directly behind you, keeping your shoelaces facing the floor. Lift the leg as high as you can without arching the low back, then sweep the leg slightly across the midline, dip down one inch, and return to the starting lifted position. Repeat six to eight times on each side.
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