Are Squats the Best Exercise to Target the Glutes?

Are Squats the Best Exercise to Target the Glutes?

(Last Updated On: April 19, 2019)

istock_000012126417xsmallWho doesn’t want to look better from behind? That’s why there’s so much focus on glute exercises to help firm and round the all-important posterior area that makes you look dynamite in a tight pair of jeans. Without exercise and training, buttock muscles quickly become loose and flabby from too much sitting and not enough toning. That’s a good reason not to let your glute muscles get complacent. But which exercises are best for targeting the glutes?

Building Beautiful Glutes

Most people think that doing squats is the best exercise for toning and rounding the buttock muscles. Squats effectively activate these muscles, especially if you do them with weights, but they’re not the only glute exercises that shape a flabby backside. According to a team of researchers from the La Crosse Exercise and Health Program, other exercises work as well or better than traditional squats for building beautiful glutes.

Glute Workouts Put to the Test

La Crosse researchers used a technique called EMG to directly measure how many muscle fibers were recruited when participants performed various glute exercises. They discovered, as expected, that traditional squats effectively activated the muscles of the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, but they weren’t the best exercise for this area. Better than squats for glute work were lunges, step-ups, and hip extensions. These exercises also activated the hamstring muscles more than standard squats did. Single-leg squats and four-way hip extension also targeted the glutes well in this study. The worst exercise? The horizontal leg press was the least effective of the eight exercises they tested.

Surprisingly,  hip extensions activated the gluteal muscles best followed by step-ups and lunges. Despite the fact that participants used no resistance, hip extensions were more effective than squats for activating the gluteal muscles. Quadriceps hip extensions are an exercise that many people don’t do when they do a glute workout.

The Best Glute Exercises?

Your best bets for firming the glute region are hip extension standard, single-leg squats, lunges, standard squats, and step-ups. Doing a combination of these exercises should help you mold and shape a more beautiful backside better than standard squats alone.

The Bottom Line?

Squats work, but they’re not the only exercise for building better glutes. Diversify your buttock workout by adding these additional exercises to target the muscles in a different way. As the exercises become easier, increase the resistance with weights. The buttock muscles are some of the more challenging muscles to shape, so you need to do a number of exercises that target them specifically. If you want a firmer backside, diversify your glute workout, and use resistance. You’ll like the way you look in your skinny jeans.



ACE Fitness. “Glutes to the Max: Exclusive ACE Research Gets to the Bottom of the Most Effective Glutes Exercises”


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Related Cathe Friedrich Workout DVDs:

Great Glutes Exercise DVD

To The Mat: Legs & Glutes Workout DVD

Fit Tower Legs Glutes & Core Exercise DVD

STS Strength 90 Day Workout Program
All of Cathe’s Strength & Toning Workout DVDs
Total Body Workouts
Lower Body Workouts

5 thoughts on “Are Squats the Best Exercise to Target the Glutes?

  1. This is great to know, I have had conversations with others who believe that squats with weights are the best. Now I can disagree and use this article as proof, thanks for the amo.

  2. I have always known squat was not the best…Thought Lunges was the best and I was wrong. Thanks cathe for this newsletter Really informative.

  3. I just Googled “hip extension” and saw a bunch of different things. Can you provide a picture or video, Cathe, so we know what exercise to perform? Thanks!

  4. Yes, I also would appreciate some demonstrations and/or explanations of some good hip extension exercises!

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