upper-glute-exercises

The 5 Best Upper Glute Exercises

The upper glute muscles are often neglected in favor of the larger and more well-known muscles like the quads and hamstrings. However, developing these smaller muscles can lead to better overall aesthetics and improved function. This article will describe the best upper glute exercises and how to perform them correctly. We will also focus on the exercise variations and common mistakes people make when performing these exercises.

Glute Anatomy

There are three main gluteal muscles: the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. The gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful of the three muscles. It originates from the posterior pelvis and is inserted at the upper femur. The gluteus medius is a large, triangular muscle that originates from the outer surface of the pelvis and inserts at the upper femur.

The gluteus minimus is a small, flat muscle that originates from the outer surface of the pelvis and inserts at the upper femur.

The upper glute muscles are responsible for hip extension, external rotation, and abduction. These muscles are key for activities such as walking, running, and climbing stairs. The upper glutes are also important for stabilizing the pelvis during single-leg activities such as cycling and single-leg squats.

Furthermore, when speaking about the upper glutes, There are three main muscles that we should focus on: the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae (TFL). The TFL is a small muscle that attaches to the iliotibial (IT) band and helps with hip abduction. As stated earlier, the gluteus medius and minimus are the primary muscles responsible for hip abduction, but they also play a role in external rotation and stabilization.

When training the upper glutes, it is important to focus on exercises that target all of these muscles. The following exercises will do just that.

Benefits of Upper Glute Exercises

There are many benefits to training the upper glutes, including:

These benefits can be achieved by performing the exercises with proper form and focus. It is also important to choose the right exercises for your goals. If you want to improve function, focus on exercises that mimic functional movements such as walking, running, and climbing stairs. If you want to improve stability, focus on exercises that challenge your balance and require you to control your body weight. Lastly, if you want to improve aesthetics, focus on exercises that target the upper glutes specifically.

Best Upper Glute Exercises

The following exercises are the best for targeting the upper glutes:

Exercise #1: Hip Thrust

Hip thrusts are an effective exercise because they target all of the muscles in the upper gluteal complex. This exercise can be performed with or without weight.

To perform this exercise:

  • Sit on the ground with your back against a bench or chair.

  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.

  • If you are using weight, hold a barbell or dumbbell across your hips.

  • If not, Place your hands on the ground beside you for support.

  • Drive your heels into the ground and raise your hips until they are in line with your shoulders and knees.

  • Hold this position for two seconds and then lower your hips back to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise #2: Glute Bridge

Glute bridges are another great compound exercise for the upper glutes. This exercise can also be performed with or without weight.

To perform this exercise:

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent.

  • If you are using weight, hold a barbell or dumbbell across your hips.

  • If not, place your hands on the ground beside you for support.

  • Drive your heels into the ground and raise your hips until they are in line with your shoulders and knees.

  • Hold this position for two seconds and then lower your hips back to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise #3: Side-Lying Clamshells

Side-lying clamshells are a great exercise for targeting the gluteus medius. This is an isolation exercise, so it should be performed with light weight. A key variation would be to add a resistance band around your knees.

To perform this exercise:

  • Lie on your side with your bottom leg bent and your top leg straight.

  • Rest your head on your bottom arm or place it in your hand.

  • Keeping your feet together, raise your top knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis.

  • Hold this position for two seconds and then lower your knee back to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then switch sides.

Exercise #4: Donkey Kick

The upper glutes can also be targeted with donkey kicks. This exercise can be done with ankle weights, a cable, or a resistance band around your knees for added resistance.

To perform this exercise:

  • Get down on all fours with your hands and knees shoulder-width apart.

  • Keeping your knee bent, raise your leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground.

  • Hold this position for two seconds and then lower your leg back to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then switch sides.

Exercise #5: Single-Leg Glute Bridge

Single-leg glute bridges are a unilateral exercise, meaning they work each side of the body independently. This exercise is great for targeting any imbalances you may have in your upper glutes.

To perform this exercise:

  • Lie on your back with one leg bent and the other leg straight.

  • Place your hands on the ground beside you for support.

  • Drive your heel into the ground and raise your hips until they are in line with your shoulders and knees.

  • Hold this position for two seconds and then lower your hips back to the starting position.

  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and then switch sides.

Common Mistakes

Not Squeezing the Glutes: Be sure to squeeze your glutes at the top of each exercise for maximal muscle activation.

Not Keeping the Core Engaged: It is important to keep the core engaged throughout each of these exercises to maintain good form and prevent injury.

Using Too Much Weight: These upper glute exercises are best performed with light to moderate weight. If you are using too much weight, you will likely recruit other muscle groups to assist in the movement, which takes away from the isolation of the upper glutes.

Not Hinging at the Hip: Be sure to hinge at the hip and not at the knee when performing these exercises. This will ensure that the upper glutes are doing the majority of the work.

Not keeping the lower back neutral: When performing any of the exercises that require you to be on your back, it is important to keep the lower back pressed into the ground. This will protect the lower back from injury. Also, in positions similar to donkey kicks limit the movement in the lower back.

Summary

The upper glutes are an often-overlooked muscle group. However, they are important for daily activities as well as performance in sports. The best upper glute exercises are:

  • Hip Thrusts

  • Glute Bridges

  • Donkey Kicks

  • Single-Leg Glute Bridge

  • Side-Lying Clamshells

Be sure to perform these exercises with good form and focus on squeezing the glutes at the top of each movement. These exercises can be done with bodyweight, ankle weights, or a resistance band to add resistance. Use light to moderate weight and perform 12-15 repetitions for each exercise. Add these upper glute exercises to your workout routine to build strong, toned glutes.

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