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Glute Exercises Ranked Worst to Best

A top fitness coach ranked 17 glute exercises.

Incredibly important, yet often neglected. You need to work your butt to become a better athlete overall. Check out these glute exercises ranked worst to best according to Jeff Cavaliere.

Jeff Cavaliere was the head physical therapist of the New York Mets for 3 years and is now a YouTube sensation. He delivers clear information without noise on his ATHLEAN-X YouTube channel.

You clicked here because you want to know which glute exercise is better than the other. Cavaliere ranks following these guidelines:

  • Progressive overload – can you continue to increase the resistance to keep building muscle?
  • Is hypertrophy possible and the main focus?
  • Are they safe and not painful in order to give you muscles?

Glute Exercises Ranked Worst to Best

Worst

  • Prone hamstring curl
  • Heel press
  • Step mill
  • Leg press (feet high)

The prone hamstring curl can lead to low-back pain or spasm. The heel press is incapable of overloading and its range of motion is fairly limited. The step mill is usually powered and the machine brings your leg back down into extension, not the muscles in your body, and you will be mainly working your hip flexors.

Glute Exercises Ranked Worst to Best

As a glute exercise, the leg press is terrible according to Cavaliere. The hip flexion can compromise your lower back and the hip extension is almost non-existent, which dictates if the glute is being activated.

Better

  • Dumbbell reverse sprinter lunge
  • Standing cuff kickback
  • Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlifts

If you feel pain during squats, the dumbbell reverse sprinter lunge is a good exercise to get good gains. The cuff kickback adds resistance that we couldn’t see in the heel press in the previous category.

Since balance is a limiting factor, the dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift is not ranked higher.

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Better Still

  • Cable single-leg Romanian deadlift
  • Seated hamstring curl
  • Banded step through
  • Kettlebell swing

The cable version of the single-leg deadlift gives you more control in the frontal plane. The seated hamstring curl you get a hip extension by lowering your knees instead of hip flexion by extending your legs.

The banded step through gives you more range of motion through extension and you can overload utilising a higher resistance band.

The kettlebell swings are one of the best ways to train your glutes and to do so explosively. The limitation is having a heavy kettlebell to keep the gains coming once you’ve reached a certain point.

Kettlebell Workouts for Beginners

Almost Best

  • Cable pull through
  • Dumbbell-leaning forward step-up
  • Glute ham raise / slick floor bridge curl
  • Barbell Romanian deadlift
  • Low bar squat

The cable through can easily be overloaded and it reinforces your glute strength through that hip hinge movement.

By changing the orientation of your body prior to starting the exercise, you can shift the load from the quads to the glutes and hamstrings, and that is what you get at the dumbbell-leaning forward step-up.

The glute ham raise contracts the glutes to stabilise the pelvis and assists the knee flex position, putting a ton of overload in your hamstrings.

The barbell Romanian deadlift is one of the best ones for the posterior change and it is easily overloaded to achieve maximum glute hypertrophy. The low bar squat recruits the posterior chain muscles more effectively than other squat variations.

Best

  • Barbell hip thrust

Finally, in the list of glute exercises ranked, the best of the best is the barbell hip thrust.

“This exercise simply checks all the boxes when it comes to glute development,” Cavaliere explains. Easy to progressive overload it, to do it safely and will provide the muscle hypertrophy you are looking for. When it comes to recruiting your butt muscles, studies show this is the best exercise possible.

Related: The Ultimate Guide for Bigger and Stronger Glutes (Exercises and Workouts) 

If you have any doubts or want to know more arguments about why one movement is higher than the other in this list of glute exercises ranked, then check out Cavaliere’s video below.

VIDEO – Glute Exercises Ranked Worst to Best

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