The Best Glute Isolation Exercises For Sculpting A Toned Butt, From Trainers (Women's Health)

Posted: Jun 28, 2023 in In the News

This article originally appeared in Women's Health on June 28, 2023.


The Best Glute Isolation Exercises For Sculpting A Toned Butt, From Trainers

By Megan Falk

To build a strong booty, performing multiple variations of squats and deadlifts is a smart move. But that's not all you should do. After weeks or months of training, these classic movements can begin to feel tedious. The solution: Mix glute isolation exercises into your routine.

ICYDK, isolation exercises include any movement that calls on just one joint and, in turn, works one muscle group. Glute isolation exercises use the hip joints and the glute muscles, says Christina Myers, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and performance enhancement specialist.

To check whether a butt-building move is an isolation exercise or simply involves the glutes, consider how many joints come into play, suggests Myers. For example, “if you get on a hip extension machine and only the hip joint is actively flexing and extending, that’s an isolation exercise,” she notes. On the flip side, a compound exercise uses more than one joint. "In a squat, your ankles, knees, and hips all move—those three joints are the main movers, " adds Myers.

Ahead, discover seven moves that single out the butt muscles, learn all about the glutes, and find out why glute isolation exercises are so worth adding to your training program, according to experts.

What are the glute muscles?

A trio of muscles make up the glutes.

  1. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle of the group, is closest to the skin’s surface, and is in charge of extending the hips, says Myers.
  2. The gluteus medius, which sits on the side of your butt near your hip, is responsible for hip abduction (moving your leg away from the midline of your body) and internal and external rotation.
  3. There’s also the gluteus minimus, which primarily acts as a hip stabilizer and abductor. The smallest glute muscle, the glute min is particularly difficult to isolate, as it sits deep beneath the maximus and medius muscles, says Myers.

You can think of compound lower-body exercises, such as squatsdeadlifts, and lunges, as the cake (base) of your workout plan. Since the moves call on multiple joints, you’re able to train a handful of muscle groups with just a few exercises, says Myers. (Efficiency!) You’re also able to add a heavy load to compound moves, which helps you build muscle, she adds. Essentially, if building a seriously strong, muscular booty is your goal, compound exercises are a must, she notes.

Glute isolation exercises, on the other hand, are the sprinkles on top of your training program. They aren’t always necessary to achieve general lower-body strength goals if you’re performing a variety of compound movements, but these single-joint moves can help spice up your workout and leave your muscles quivering (in a good way), says Myers.

Exercises that isolate the glutes can also be useful if you’re dealing with a specific muscle weakness or you’re in the early phase of rehab after suffering an injury, according to the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. Sticking with single-joint actions in the early stages of a corrective exercise program can help ensure your nervous system isn’t overloaded and prevent improper movement patterns from being reinforced, according to the American Council on Exercise.


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