Upper Glute Workout: 6 Upper Glute Exercises For Building Your Glute Shelf

We all want a bigger, firmer butt. I mean, who doesn’t like a well-built back side. Especially if it still fits snug in your jeans. Today, we’re going to be talking about the best exercises to include in your upper glute workout, to build your glutes from the top down. Not only will these upper glute exercises help with body recomposition, but they will also help build more power and strength in your hips and posterior chain to improve overall athletic performance.

Upper Glute Anatomy 

The glutes, or your butt as most would call it, is composed of three different muscles – the gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius. The glute medius (med for short), and the upper glute max, are the specific areas that are responsible for the “shelf” appearance within your physique, when working on the upper glutes.

The gluteus medius sits at the posterior, or upper backside of your hip, and lies underneath the glute max. The gluteus medius has two primary functions, helping stabilize the lower body and hip rotation from the hip joint, specifically the internal rotation of the thigh and abduction.  

Best Upper Glute Exercises For Your Upper Glute Workout

It’s important to note, that no muscle works in complete isolation. When working on your upper glutes, you will also be stimulating the upper portion of the gluteus maximus, in addition to the glute medius.

1. Standing Hip Abduction

The standing hip abduction is one of the best glute medius exercises, that will target your upper glutes. Hip abductors are a group of muscles located on the lateral sides of the hips which allow for sideways movement. This movement can be done using the cable pulley, or with a resistance band. Hip abductions are one of the best to build a bigger stronger glute shelf.

How To Do Hip Abductions 

  • Lower the cable pulley down to the bottom and attach an ankle strap to one ankle.
  • Stand perpendicular to the pulley with your strapped ankle furthest away from the pulley.
  • Step away from the pulley so that it’s pulled tight and your strapped leg is pulled across your unstrapped leg.
  • Grasp the cable pulley machine for stability.
  • Keeping both legs straight, exhale as you pull your strapped ankle away from the pulley until it is fully abducted.
  • Hold for a count of two.
  • Inhale as you slowly return your strapped leg to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the prescribed number of reps.
  • Then switch ankles with the strap and repeat.

2. Curtsy Lunge 

Curtsy lunge is an effective and versatile addition to your lower body routine. It targets a slightly different area of your backside than the traditional lunge. It focuses on your inner thighs, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus which helps improve your posture and stabilize your hips.

How To Curtsy Lunge 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and arms in a neutral position at your sides
  • Shift your weight to your right foot and take a step back with your left foot as if you are curtsying, bracing you core, chest high, and bringing your arms up parallel.
  • Cross your right foot behind your left, bend your knees, and lower your hips until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the ground.
  • Keep your torso upright and square as possible, keeping your shins in place and directly in front of you.
  • Return to start and repeat on the other side.

3. Good Mornings 

Good morning exercise is a compound movement, that targets your glutes as well as your lower back and hamstrings. Good mornings stimulate all three glute muscles, but emphasize the upper glutes and the medius and minimus very well to build a stronger and more rounded backside.  The good morning is a hip hinge exercise, meaning that you bend at your waist or, hinge at your hips. Since your glutes and hamstrings drive the movement, the hinging movement of the hips, will build more strength, mobility and improve hip flexion. Stronger hips will improve hip mobility which is crucial for keeping your ligaments and tendons agile for bigger and heavier movements, to prevent injury and improve athletic performance.

How To Do Good Mornings

  • Good mornings are very similar to the straight leg deadlift. Both exercises are used to target the hamstrings, however opposed to lifting the weight from the ground, the barbell is behind your neck, supported by your shoulders similar to the weight positioning of a barbell back squat.
  • Place the barbell with moderate or light weight on your upper traps behind your neck, slightly higher than the positing of a barbell back squat at a squat rack.
  • Place your feet shoulder width apart, engage your core, and slowly hinge at your hips bending forward from the hips, until your trunk is approximately parallel with the floor.
  • Extend your hips, and push your weight through your feet and heels, standing the weight back up to starting position. Repeat.
  • Start with a weight that’s only about 20-25% of your back squat.

4. Glute Bridge 

The glute bridge recruits and activates your entire group of glute muscles, howeer, does place specific emphasis on the glute medius and upper glutes. The glute muscles aren’t the only muscles being worked in the glute bridge. This movement does involve other muscles such as the back muscles, the core and abdominals, hip flexors and the hamstrings.

How To Glute Bridge

  • Start by laying flat on your back on the ground.
  • Making sure that there is no gap between your back and the floor, press your core into the ground, feeling the hips get in line with the spine (no arching)
  • From here, begin to walk the feet towards the booty, until you reach a 90 degree angle
  • Pressing your feet firm into the ground, with your arms flat out to the side, and your chin tucked so that your spine is straight, all you have to do is extend your hips towards the ceiling.
  • You’ll want to still not arch your back, keeping good posture, and squeezing the booty to power the hip drive.
  • Once you pause for a second at the top, gently come down with the same form, not arching, pressing the feet and the arms into the ground.
  • Repeat for as many reps as desired and add a weight, or a band, or another piece of equipment to make the movement more challenging.

5. Sumo Squat 

The sumo squat is one of the best upper glute exercises to add to your leg day workout. Sumo squat actively targets the glutes, as well as the hamstrings, calves, and quads. Sumo squat places more emphasis on the hip abductors as well as the glute medius and upper glute maximus.

How To Sumo Squat 

  • The conventional way to perform a sumo squat is with a single dumbbell, or kettlebell.
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width with your feet pointed at a 45 degree angle.
  • Holding a dumbbell from the top on one end, push your hips back and squat down slowly, keeping your upper back straight and chest open and up.
  • Pushing through your heels, engage your core and come down until the dumbbell slightly touches the ground, or until your legs are parallel to the floor.
  • Pause, then push back through your heels, chest up and core braced.
  • Repeat for as many reps as needed.

6. Lateral Lunge

The lateral lunge is an effective upper glute exercise, that targets the lateral or sides of your glutes and quads. As opposed to stepping in front or behind you, as you would in a normal or traditional lunge, you simply side step, placing your weight in your heel and outside foot, using your hip abductors, and glute medius, minimus, and upper maximus for strength and contraction.

How To Lateral Lunge

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Take a big step to the side with your left leg, bending the left knee over the toes, with a slight hinge in the spine, with your weight in the outside and hell of your foot.
  • Press off the left foot to move back to center where you started.
  • Do 12-15 reps, then repeat on the right side—or go back and forth between sides.

Best Upper Glute Workout: Takeaway

Building your glutes, will take time, dedication, and more workout volume, to get the big round booty that you want. Each part and muscle group should be emphasized throughout your lower body or leg day split, to efficiently build your upper glutes as well as the glute maximus, with compound and isolated movements. With a mix of functional training and bodybuilding resistance movements, you'll build more hip power, as well as increase muscle hyertrophy and strength. Overall, these upper glute exercises, will help you build the booty shelf and well toned asss-thetic, you want. 


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