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Why Everybody Needs an Upper Glute Workout Routine

Women in exercise class, performing back and upper glute workout


It’s glute day again and perhaps you find yourself performing the same exercises over and over. While repeating exercises is a great way to build muscle mass, it is essential to be sure that you are targeting multiple regions of the gluteal muscle groups to see full results. If you are not seeing the full shape you desire from your workouts, perhaps you need to be focusing on an upper glute workout routine. 

The gluteal muscles, or your buttock muscles, are composed of the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and tensor fasciae latae muscles. Out of these muscles, the gluteus maximus is the largest and strongest, accounting for the bulk and shape of the butt and hip area.


The Glute Shelf

You may have heard people refer to the “glute shelf.” This term is referring to the shelf-like appearance that your butt can give off when you target the correct muscles and maintain a good upper glute workout routine. Building this glute shelf creates a full, rounded appearance of the butt and is therefore an aesthetic goal for most people trying to build a bigger, better butt.

If your goal is wanting to sculpt a fuller and rounder shape or just build more strength in your glutes, a key component is to perform a consistent upper glute workout routine that specifically targets the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles. The gluteus medius is located at the upper backside of your hip, beneath the gluteus maximus. It plays a crucial role in working to stabilize the lower body and helps to enable hip rotation, including internal thigh rotation and abduction.


Why Should I Target The Upper Glute Muscle Groups?

Aesthetics: Maybe you are motivated to perform an upper glute workout because it can look great for aesthetic purposes and helps to create a rounder, fuller appearance. Even if you are not worried about the aesthetics, you should still be focused on a good, consistent upper glute workout routine. Regularly targeting your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius is key to strengthening and stabilizing your entire body.

Stabilization Strength: The gluteus medius and gluteus maximus play a key role in stabilizing and strengthening the entire body. A strong gluteus medius and gluteus maximus work to stabilize the pelvis and ensure stability in the lower back, hips, and legs. Maintaining a stable pelvis is crucial for performing various movements, including walking, and lifting heavy weights. By strengthening these muscles, this will also help prevent injuries and provide you with overall better body functionality.

Athleticism: Focusing on your glutes is not only beneficial for shaping a fuller butt but also essential for athletes. Your glutes play a significant role in powerful movements and hip extension. Additionally, strong glutes contribute to your core strength, providing support to your spine and preventing lower back pain and injuries. Maintaining strong glutes through an upper glute workout routine is key to preventing issues like gluteal amnesia, which occurs when the muscles lose their ability to function due to inactivity and prolonged sitting.

Pain Prevention: Additionally, a regular upper glute workout routine will help to prevent knee pain and lower back pain. Since your upper glute muscles work to provide stability to your pelvis, regularly working these muscles can lead to increased strength and stability in your lumbar (lower) spine. Due to the increased strength and stability in your lower spine, this can help to prevent lower back pain.

Physical Therapy: Upper glute workouts are also commonly performed in physical therapy and sports medicine as a preventive workout to fight against early-onset aging. A strong gluteus minimus and gluteus maximus will help to prevent aging-related problems and prevent injuries in areas like the hips, back, and knees. Strengthening your gluteus medius and gluteus maximus through a consistent upper glute workout routine is crucial if you intend to maintain an active lifestyle for years to come.


Best Upper Glute Workouts

There are many upper glute workouts that will be effective in strengthening the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscles. While the use of weights can be a highly effective way to increase muscle mass and build strength, you can also work these muscles with your own body weight and other tools like resistance bands if you do not have access to larger weights.

Weighted Upper Glute Workout

The hip thrust allows you to train your glutes with heavy weights, isolating the muscles, which is essential for both building size and strength.

To perform the hip thrust exercise, follow these steps:

  1. Sit on the ground with your back against a bench, knees bent. 
  2. Place a barbell with a barbell pad on your lap and roll it down your legs until it rests on your hips. 
  3. Keep your feet flat on the ground and lift your hips upward until your shoulders are aligned with your knees, resting on the top of the bench. 
  4. Hold this position for a few seconds, squeezing your glutes, before slowly lowering back to the starting position. 
  5. Hip thrusts target your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius (a smaller glute muscle in your upper buttocks) as well as your hamstrings.

Aim for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps during your workout routine. 

Body Weight Upper Glute Workout 

Side Plank Hip Lifts are a popular exercise and are often thought of as something to target the obliques. While the obliques are working, the upper glutes will also be activated as the workout to stabilize and strengthen the body.

To perform the Side Plank Hip Lifts and target both your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles, follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your side, supporting yourself with one elbow directly under your shoulder.
  2. Stack your legs, maintaining a slight bend in your hips and knees, keeping the angle less than 90 degrees. 
  3. Push through your lower knee and foot, lifting your body off the ground, thrusting your hips forward, and rotating your top leg upward at the hip.
  4. Hold briefly, then lower yourself back to the starting position slowly.

Perform 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps of the Side Plank Hip Lifts.

Resistance Band Upper Glute Workout

Glute Kickbacks are a great way to target the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscles. This upper glute workout has shown to be even more effective in targeting these muscles than other commonly known glute exercises such as squats. You can do these on a machine at the gym, or to make this exercise more easily available, you can perform this by just using a resistance band.

To perform Glute Kickbacks, follow these steps:

  1. Stand upright and lean forward at the hips, approximately at a 45-degree angle. If you need extra balance and support, you can hold onto a wall. 
  2. Lift one leg backward in a slow and controlled motion, keeping tension in your hamstrings and glutes. 
  3. Lower your leg back down slowly to complete one repetition. 

To focus on your gluteus medius and minimus, angle your leg slightly outward as you raise it. You can also bend your back knee at a 90-degree angle for added glute tension. This movement is known as a donkey kick.

We suggest completing 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps of the Glute Kickbacks. 

If you are looking for more glute exercises that will help target your muscles providing a better appearance, stability, and strength, then check out these workouts as well:


Upper Glute Workout Takeaway

Working the upper glutes is essential for all of us to maintain a healthy, functioning body with good mobility. If you are an athlete, maintaining an upper glute workout routine will help you to increase your performance and build strength. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, then an upper glute workout routine will also help you to offset the complications that could come with a lack of movement. (Also see our posts on gluteus maximus workoutglute machine, and leg press for glutes!)

An upper glute workout will do so much more for our bodies than just aesthetics. It can have a beneficial effect on increasing stability and building strength for overall better body functionality.

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