3 Most Overrated Glute Exercises

The 3 Most Overrated Glute Exercises & What You Should Be Doing Instead

Growing strong & shapely glutes is a goal most of us have in common at some point! But if that is your goal, then ensuring your training is optimised to help your glutes grow is vital. Social media is full of myths around growing your glutes so we’re here to bust open what the most overrated glute exercises are and where you should focus your energies instead.

1.  Sumo Deadlift

Contrary to popular opinion a Sumo Deadlift isn’t actually a great glute exercise – it’s a fantastic strength exercise and it does work your legs in some capacity but your glutes are not the primary mover. This is because when your foot position is wide and your feet turned out (and so your hips are highly abducted and externally rotated) this prevents your glutes from being the prime hip extensors (hip extension is one of the joint movements that happens when you lift the bar from the floor to the top of the movement). In a sumo deadlift your adductor magnus (inner thighs) is the main muscle that moves you into hip extension.

“But I feel my glutes in a wide and sumo stance” – what you feel is actually your piriformis which sits directly under your glute medius and is in a stretched position at the bottom of the sumo deadlift when you are in hip flexion and abduction.

Here’s what you should focus on instead:

Romanian Deadlift

The close-foot position of a Romanian deadlift allows the glutes to be loaded much more effectively, thereby working your glute maximus better and enabling your glutes to grow. So instead of focusing energy on Sumo Deadlifts try incorporating Romanian Deadlifts into your sessions a few times a week.

2.  The Hip Abductor Machine

Similar to the Sumo Deadlift the Hip Abductor is mistakenly thought to be one of the best exercises for your glutes, but for many of the same reasons outlined above, it isn’t! Much like the sensation many people think they feel in their glutes when they do a sumo deadlift – what you’re actually feeling is your piriformis, which sits just below your glute medius. This isn’t to say you should never use the hip abductor, but certainly don’t prioritise it over key movements like hip thrusts, Romanian deadlifts and lunges if you’re looking to grow your glutes.

Here’s what you should focus on instead:

Barbell Hip Thrust

The most infamous of glute exercises and for a good reason – they work. Incorporating these into your workouts 2-3 times a week and ensuring you work on progressive overload (lifting heavier over time) will go a long way to helping your glutes to grow. Take time to learn the movement and keep a close eye on your foot position, pelvis positioning and ensuring you always hit full hip extension at the top of the movement!

Stef’s top tip: Avoid using a gym bench as your back rest if possible as these are often too high – instead opt for using an aerobic step, soft plyo box or the end of a decline ab bench!

3.  The Cable Kickback

Whilst the cable kickback isn’t a bad exercise for your glutes we see these being utilised far too much over more effective movements like hip thrusts and lunges. The main issue with cable kickback is two-fold, 1) they’re often performed incorrectly meaning the lower back is recruited much more than the glutes and 2) there’s a limited ability to app progressive overload with this exercise, meaning their capacity to help you grow your glutes is also limited.

Here’s what you should focus on instead:

Glute-focused Back Extension

If you’re looking for a high rep movement that effectively works your glutes then try swapping out a cable kickback for glute-focused back extension instead. This movement utilises a 45-degree back extension and you can ensure your glutes and hamstrings (instead of your lower back) are the primary mover by tucking your chin forward and rounding your shoulders. To increase the intensity in this movement you can also add a long resistance band or load the movement by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell!