The 10 Best Dumbbell Glute Exercises to Build a Better Butt

Dumbbell Glute Exercises


Increasingly, we are living in a glute-less society. While booty girls rule Instagram, a significant and growing number of men and women are distinctly lacking in the butt department.

Weak, shapeless glutes are a common sight, and many of the people who DO have big butts are just fat and soft.

So, what has happened to the once-proud glutes?

Poor glute development is mostly caused by spending way too much time sitting down. Prolonged sitting not only completely unloads your glutes; it also places them in a stretched position. The combination of inactivity and unrelenting stretching causes hypotonicity and atrophy. This means the glutes lose their tone or firmness and start to shrink.

The good news is that, with nothing more than a couple of dumbbells, you can reawaken your glutes and build a butt you can be proud of!

In this article, we reveal the ten best dumbbell glute exercises.

Glute Anatomy

The name glutes is usually short for gluteus maximus. However, other muscles make up the glute complex, and they’re no less important.

Providing you use the best glute exercises, you should have no problem building a strong and muscular butt. Still, it’s always helpful to know a little about the underlying anatomy of the muscles you want to develop.

And don’t for a moment underestimate the importance of the glutes. They are biomechanically similar to your deltoids or shoulder muscles. In fact, some people call them the deltoids of the hip!

The main muscles that make up the glutes complex are:

Glute Anatomy

Gluteus maximus

This is the muscle you are currently sitting on, but it’s more than just somewhere convenient to rest your weary bones. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body and potentially the most powerful. Located on the back and side of your hip, the functions of the gluteus maximus are:

  • Hip extension
  • Hip lateral (external) rotation
  • Hip abduction (superior or upper portion)
  • Hip adduction (inferior or lower portion)

Related: Best Glute Exercises For Mass

Gluteus medius

The gluteus medius is located above and beneath the gluteus maximus near the iliac or upper crest of the pelvis. It works alongside the gluteus maximus and also has some additional functions:

  • Hip abduction (movement away from the midline of the body)
  • Hip medial (internal) rotation
  • Pelvis stabilization

Related: Best Gluteus Medius Exercises For A Perfect Butt

Gluteus minimus

This is a small triangle-shaped muscle located within the posterior aspect of the hip. Like the gluteus medius, the gluteus minimus also works alongside the gluteus maximus, and its functions are:

  • Hip abduction
  • Hip medial rotation
  • Pelvis stabilization

Related: Gluteus Minimus Exercises For Rounder Hips & a Jaw-Dropping Side Butt

Tensor fascia latae

Meaning band of white tissue, the TFL is part of the glute complex despite not having the word gluteus in its name. It’s a biaxial muscle which means it crosses two joints – the hip and the knee. As part of the glute group, TFL is involved in:

  • Hip internal rotation
  • Hip abduction
  • Pelvis stabilization

The Gluteus maximus is the most prominent muscle in the glute complex. Still, the other gluteal muscles deserve your attention too. They might not contribute as much to butt mass, but they are critical for hip stability and performance.

If these other, smaller muscles are neglected, your hips won’t be as stable, and that will affect your athletic performance. Because of the complexity of this part of your body, you must train your glutes from several different directions to ensure you include all of these muscles.

The 10 Best Dumbbell Glute Exercises

Weak, soft, shapeless butt? Just say no! Put some junk in your trunk with the best dumbbell glute exercises. Include a couple of these awesome exercises in your leg workouts to finally build a butt you can be proud of!

1. Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) are so-called because they were once a favorite exercise of Romanian Olympic weightlifters. This exercise doesn’t just work your glutes. It also involves your hamstrings and lower back, making it an excellent exercise for strengthening your entire posterior chain.  

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your arms by your sides and feet around hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly, brace your abs, and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Push your hips to the rear and lean forward, taking care not to round your lower back. Lower the weights down your legs until you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings.
  3. Drive your hips forward, stand back up, and repeat.

2. Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift

If you’ve mastered regular Romanian deadlifts, you are probably ready for a new challenge – single-leg RDLs. Working one leg at a time means you can identify and fix any left to right strength imbalances.

In addition, standing on one leg increases gluteus minimus and gluteus medius engagement as these muscles must work harder to stabilize your hips and pelvis.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your arms by your sides and feet together. Bend your knees slightly. Shift your weight over onto one leg. Brace your abs and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Hinging from your hips, lean forward on one leg, taking care not to round your lower back. Extend your other leg out behind you for balance. Lean as far forward as your flexibility allows.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.
  4. Do the same number of reps on each leg.

3. Dumbbell reverse deficit lunge

While lunges are mostly known as a quads exercise, they also work your glutes. Dumbbell reverse deficit lunges are particularly glute-centric, and you’ll really feel this one the day after doing it!

How to do it:

  1. Stand on a four to six-inch platform, e.g., a couple of stacked bumper plates. Hold your dumbbells down by your sides, brace your abs, and pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Step backward, bend your legs, and lower your rear knee toward the floor so it’s well below the level of your front foot.
  3. Drive off your back leg and bring your feet back together on the platform.
  4. Step back and off with the opposite leg and repeat.
  5. Alternate legs for the duration of your set.

4. Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat

This is another quads exercise that’s also great for your glutes. While this exercise has nothing to do with the country of Bulgaria, it’s still an excellent unilateral or single-legged exercise. As well as working all your major leg muscles, this split squat variation is good for developing better hip mobility and balance.

How to do it:

  1. With a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your back to a knee-high workout bench. Bend one leg and place the top of your foot on the bench behind you. Hop forward and into a split stance.
  2. Bend your legs and lower your rear knee down to the floor. Lean forward slightly to maximize glute engagement. However, do not round your lower back.
  3. Drive your foot into the floor and stand back up. Continue for the desired number of reps.
  4. Rest a moment, switch sides, and then do the same number of reps with the opposite leg.

5. Dumbbell booty band sumo squat

Sumo or wide-stance squats not only work your gluteus maximus, but your gluteus minimus and medius too. Performed with a single dumbbell, this exercise is arguably more of a deadlift than a squat, but none of that matters when you just want a great glute workout!

How to do it:

  1. Put a booty band around your knees. Hold a single dumbbell in front of your hips. Step your feet out, so they’re about 1.5 shoulder-widths apart.
  2. Point your toes slightly outward and press your knees apart against the resistance offered by the band.
  3. Bend your knees and squat as deeply as possible without rounding your lower back or allowing your knees to cave inward.
  4. Stand back up and repeat.
  5. You can also do this exercise without the booty band, although it will be a little less effective.

6. Dumbbell side leg raise

This exercise specifically targets your gluteus minimus and medius, which are located on the side of your hips. With no knee stress to worry about, this is a great way to train your glutes if you suffer from knee pain.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on your side, so your hips and shoulders are stacked squarely. Rest your head down on your outstretched arm. Make sure your body is straight. Rest and hold a dumbbell against the outside of your uppermost thigh.
  2. Without leaning forward or backward, lift your leg up until your foot is just above shoulder height. Do not bend your knee.
  3. Lower your leg and repeat.
  4. Roll over and do the same number of reps with the other leg.

7. Dumbbell lateral lunge

Dumbbell lateral lunges are another compound lower body exercise that emphasizes your glutes. This exercise is also good for hip mobility and flexibility and provides your inner thighs with a welcome workout.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together and hold your dumbbells down by your sides. Pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs.
  2. Take a large step to your right, bend your right knee, push your hips back, and descend until your right thigh is roughly parallel to the ground. Keep your left leg straight.
  3. Push off your right leg and bring your feet back together.
  4. Next, step out to the left and repeat.
  5. Alternate leading legs for the duration of your set.

8. Dumbbell hip thrust

While hip thrusts are usually thought of as a bodyweight or barbell exercise, they work equally well with one or two dumbbells. This hip extension exercise will hammer your gluteus maximus but is also very lower back-friendly, so it’s a good choice for anyone with low back pain.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs bent and feet flat and your upper back resting against a sturdy bench. Rest and hold a dumbbell (or dumbbells) across your hips.
  2. Drive your feet into the floor and lift your hips up, forming a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Pause with your glutes fully contracted for 1-2 seconds.
  3. Lower your butt back down to the floor and repeat.
  4. You can also do this exercise using one leg at a time, which is MUCH more challenging!

9. Dumbbell high step-up

Step-ups are an effective leg and conditioning exercise. Still, when you use a platform that’s knee height or greater, you’ll really feel your glutes getting involved. The trick to making this exercise effective is doing all the work with your lead leg.

Try NOT to push off the floor with your trial leg. Instead, keep it as straight as you can so your lead leg takes most of the weight.

How to do it:

  1. Stand facing a box that’s at least knee height. Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lift one foot and place it on top of the box. Drive down through your heel and step up onto the box. Remember not to use your trailing leg for assistance.
  3. Step back down and repeat.
  4. You can do this exercise using an alternating leg action or switch leading legs set by set as you prefer.

10. Dumbbell donkey kick

The dumbbell donkey kick is an isolation exercise, meaning there is movement at only one joint. However, despite being a very straightforward exercise, this is still a great way to tone and condition your glutes.

How to do it:

  1. Kneel on all fours with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Place and hold a dumbbell behind one knee.
  2. Keeping your knee bent, extend your leg, and push your heel up toward the ceiling. Take care not to hyperextend your lower back.
  3. Lower your knee back down to just above the floor and repeat.
  4. Place the dumbbell behind your other knee, and then do the same number of reps with your opposite leg.

More Glute Exercises & Workouts:

Dumbbell Glute Exercises – Wrapping Up

There is no reason to go through life with a soft, weak butt. While spending too much time sitting CAN weaken your glutes, you don’t have to become a victim of circumstance. Instead, you can grab some weights and train your glutes in the gym or at home. All you need is some dumbbells.

But, there is no need to go all glutes, all the time. Two to three glute-centric workouts per week should be sufficient. That’s because, as with so many things in life, you can have too much of a good thing, and that includes glute workouts.

To get the most from your glute training, you must also allow adequate time for rest and recovery. If you don’t, you could end up overtraining your glutes and find that all your hard workout is wasted.

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