The Best 6 Exercises for Tight, Toned Glutes

Move over six-pack abs! Tight and toned glutes are becoming one of the most desirable attributes for women training to achieve their optimal physique. By adding in these glute exercises to your training routine you will notice an improvement within weeks as they full-on target the glutes.

Be sure to warm-up with a few bodyweight sets of the specific exercise you’re performing to prepare for an intense glute burn!

1) Barbell Squat

The squat is one of the most popular and effective exercises for shaping the lower body – with an added bonus of stabilising and enhancing the core throughout the movement.

I have found a squat rack to be the safest place to perform this exercise. Don’t be afraid to go heavy with this exercise, but with that said stay safe and train within your own capabilities.

Targets: Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, lower back


Barbell squat

(Image displays same movement in/out of squat rack)

Starting position

? Start by placing the barbell on the rack just below shoulder height

? Step under the bar when you are ready, and place the back of your shoulders below it – Keep a tight grip on the bar and remove it from the squat rack by pushing through your legs and straightening your upper body.

? Step back from the squat rack and allow a second or two for the bar to settle before you begin your first rep.

? Position the feet shoulder width apart and the toes pointing outwards slightly. Keep your back straight throughout the movement to prevent injury and ensure you look forwards and keep your head up.


a) Begin the movement by taking a deep breath in before slowly lowering the bar by bending the knees and the hips, whilst maintaining a straight posture.

b) Squeeze the glutes throughout the movement before stopping at a 90-degree angle, ensuring your knees don’t go beyond your toes.

c) Pause for a second at the bottom of the movement before exhaling, then slowly begin to raise the weight by pushing through your heels.

d) After powering through your heels, straighten your legs to push back to the starting position.

Repeat for the necessary amount of repetitions.

2) Barbell Lunge

A powerful leg and glute exercise great for isolation and concentration of the muscles.  This exercise is best performed in a rack with the bar at the same height as used for a squat.


Targets: Quadriceps, glutes, calves, hamstrings


Barbell lunge


Starting position:

? Begin by stepping under the bar and place it across your back, keeping your shoulder blades tight.

? Hold on to the bar tightly and use your legs to push upwards and remove it from the rack – keep a straight torso.

then squat down through the hips keeping the back straight and the head up. Do not allow your knee to travel beyond your toes. Push through your heel and return to the starting position, repeat for the necessary amount of repetitions.


a) Step away from the squat rack and take a step forward with your right leg – again, keeping the torso straight for secure balance.

b) Begin to inhale as you squat through your hips to push the weight onto your right leg – your knees shouldn’t go any further than your toes.

c) Begin to exhale as you power through your heel to begin reversing the movement back to the starting position.

d) Perform the same movement with the left leg (both legs count as 1 rep)

Repeat for the necessary amount of repetitions.

TOP TIP for Barbell Lunges
For extra glute activation, complete the same movement with a small step in front of you and really squeeze at the top of each movement. Feel the burn!

3) Glute Bridges

A complete glute-focused exercise for that “round” appearance! This exercise also allows for great back stretches to really loosen up those tight muscles.

Targets: Glutes, calves, hamstrings


Glute bridge

Starting position

? Simply lie face up on the floor, and keep the knees bent – your feet should be flat on the ground.

? Rest a barbell/plate/resistance band on your hips and place some form of padding around it or underneath it if necessary such as a towel or exercise mat folded in half.

a) Push the heels into the ground and begin to exhale as you lift the hips, creating a nice straight line from the shoulders down to the knees – hold the weight in place throughout the movement.

b) Hold the position for a few seconds/30 seconds (if you want to push yourself) at the top position while ensuring the glutes are contracted.

c) Reverse the movement so that you are back to the starting position.

Repeat for the necessary amount of repetitions.

TOP TIP for Glute bridges
Aside from adding weight, you can also increase the difficulty by incorporating a bench into this exercise to increase your range of motion. Doing this exercise using one leg instead of two will also increase its difficulty and promote muscle balance, just ensure that you train both legs with the same amount of repetitions.

4) Cable Kick-Back

An all-time-favourite for tightening up the glutes!

Cable kick-backs can be performed standing or using a bench.

Targets: Glutes, hamstrings

Cable kick back


Starting position

? Hook an ankle cuff to your ankle and attach it to a low pulley on the cable machine – secure a balance on a bench if applicable.


a) Facing the cable machine, take a step back to create tension on the cable, (if standing) and then hold the pillar for balance. Keep the abs tight and maintain a slight bend in the knees.

b) Squeeze the glutes then slowly extend the leg wearing the cuff behind you as high as you can while you exhale.

c) At the top of the movement squeeze the glutes tight then slowly return your leg to the starting position and repeat the movement.

d) Switch legs and ensure each side is trained equally.

Repeat for the necessary amount of repetitions.

5) Deadlift

The multi-tasker to say the least. This is a brilliant exercise for glute development, amongst other muscle groups…

Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, calves, middle back, lats, forearms, quadriceps, traps… and breath.



Starting position (lengthy but crucial for desired results and to avoid injury)

? Stand facing the barbell with your feet shoulder width apart. Contract your abdominals, push your chest up keeping your back straight and bend your knees until you can reach the bar.

? Grab the bar with a pronated grip (thumbs facing each other), make sure that your grip is slightly wider than shoulder width – use the rings on the bar as a point of reference, to ensure that your grip is even.

? Make sure that your grip is tight, your abdominals and lower back contracted, chest lifted up and back straight. Fix your eyes on a point in front of you, inhale and hold your breath.


a) Start lifting the bar of the floor by straightening your legs and keeping the bar close to your body – Once the bar reaches your knee levels straighten your legs while extending your back.

b) Stop the movement once you’re stood perfectly upright. Do not hyperextend your back – your shoulders and hips should be in a straight line.

c) Exhale and hold this position for 2 seconds while bringing your scapulae together for extra upper back stimulation.

d) In a controlled manner, return the barbell to the floor by flexing your back and bending your thighs. While doing so maintain correct posture – keeping head up, back straight, chest pushed up and abdominals contracted.

6) Barbell/Dumbbell

This exercise can be performed on a weights bench at the gym once it is secure and sturdy.

Targets: Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves

Starting position

? Start the exercise by standing close to a bench, a barbell on your back/dumbbells in hand.


a) Keeping your back straight, step one foot up on to the bench. Shift your weight to the opposite foot and squeeze your glutes.

b) Push through your leg to lift your body upwards while driving your weight downwards through your heel.

c) Step your other foot up beside the foot on the bench.

d) Reverse the action carefully so that you are back to the starting position with both feet on the ground. Ensure that you carry out the same number of repetitions on alternating legs to avoid training one more than the other.

Sets and reps

3 sets x 10 reps 

Increase weight over time – you’ll be keen to mix it once you’ve mastered the moves!

Be proud of the post-workout pain – give these exercises a try and watch your glutes grow and tighten!

Note: Don’t forget to stretch after every workout to loosen the muscles for the following workout.

stretching woman




Writer and expert

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