Glute workout: try this 7-minute circuit to build lower body strength without a load of weights

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This home glute workout strengthens your lower body muscles without using a shed load of weights. 

Let’s talk glutes. Yep, those muscles that you’re currently sat on as you read this. They might not be your biggest concern when it comes to thinking about the impact of your long days at a desk (and even longer evenings on the sofa) – but they should be. The glutes are the biggest muscle in our body, and they work on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis. 

“Taking the time to actually do a glute-focused workout or making glute training part of your usual routine is important, because we don’t tend to consciously activate these muscles a lot. For instance, if you’re walking, you’re not thinking about squeezing your glutes,” says personal trainer Gemma Mushington

The importance of glute workouts goes beyond the muscles themselves, Gemma explains, as “training the muscles will help prevent injury and poor posture. Your glutes support your lower back and pelvis, and are connected to the quads and hamstrings, so you’ll really feel the impact if you neglect them.” 

We know what you’re thinking: it’s hard to build strength from home without weights. While you typically might associate glute-building workouts with heavily weighted barbell hip thrusts and abductor machines, there is actually a whole host of exercises and training techniques that you can do from home to gain strength and muscle too.

“You might not get the same satisfaction without big weights, but you can absolutely work the muscles,” Gemma agrees. Her top tips for building leg muscle without 

Increase time under tension 

“There’s a reason you can walk out of pilates and barre classes with sore legs even though you haven’t used any kit,” says Gemma. “It’s because they do slow movements on a concentrated area.” 

Replicate this at home by pausing at the end of a movement and, if you can, adding in miniature pulses. “For example, if you’re doing a donkey kick, squeeze your glute and hold your leg up for a few seconds or pulse your leg while it is kicked up, rather than just letting the leg go up and down,” advises Gemma. “You’re contracting the muscle for a longer time, which adds more resistance.” 

Do single leg work 

If you don’t have much weight, it makes sense to focus on one glute at a time rather than spreading the weight across both sides. “Doing a split squat, for example, in which you’re focusing on one leg at a time adds more load to the individual muscles,” Gemma explains. 

Change the lever 

Forget just using the floor – working with different depths can make things more challenging, says Gemma. “Put your feet on a raised surface during glute bridges and split squats. You are adding in more distance to push through, making it harder for the muscles body.”

Glute workout: add depth to challenge the muscles

Now you’re ready for the workout. Keep these techniques in mind when performing this glute building circuit. You can use weights or your bodyweight, add in pulses or pauses and try using steps or boxes to add depth and adapt it to your skill level. Perform them back to back for a seven-minute workout, and if you want to, do multiple rounds. One thing’s for sure – your glutes will be firmly awake after this. 

Glute bridge

  1. Lie on your back with your feet placed on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Your heels should be about your hand’s length away from your bum. You can place a dumbbell, plate or barbell on your hips if you have one. 
  2. Tuck your tailbone under so your pubic bone is being pulled up towards the ceiling.
  3. Keeping that posterior pelvic tilt, lift your hips up off the floor as high as they can go so you are in a bridge-like position. Squeeze your glutes and try to keep your weight in the heels of your feet.
  4. Slowly lower back to the ground.

Repeat for one minute

Sumo squat

  1. Stand up tall with your feet slightly wider than hip-width and your feet turned out. Hold a medium to heavy weight at your chest, a light weight in each hand at your shoulders or a resistance band just above your knees. 
  2. Brace your core by taking a deep breath in and squeezing your abdominal muscles. 
  3. Bend your knees so your bum comes as low to the floor as possible, making sure that you don’t arch your back. Make sure to also watch your knees – they shouldn’t be collapsing inwards. 
  4. Press through your heels and squeeze your glutes to come back up to standing. 

Repeat for one minute

Reverse lunge

  1. Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart. Keep the shoulders back and engage the core as you step your left foot back as far behind you as possible.
  2. Bend both legs so that your left knee comes as close to the floor as possible. Your right knee should bend at 90º so the thigh is parallel to the floor.
  3. Press into your right heel and squeeze your glutes as you step your left foot back to the starting position.

Repeat for one minute on each side

Curtsey lunge

  1. Stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. As always, engage your core and tuck your tailbone. You can hold a dumbbell at chest height, one in each hand by your sides or perform this move with no kit. 
  2. Cross your right leg back behind your left leg and bend both knees so your right knee comes close to the floor. You should be in a ‘curtsey’ position, but keep your head up and chest open rather than bowing down.
  3. Squeeze through your left heel to return to the starting position.  

Repeat for one minute on each leg

Donkey kicks

  1. Start in an all-fours position. You can either place your forearms or hands on the floor, depending on what is most comfortable for you. You can also tuck a light dumbbell behind the knee if you have one.
  2. Kick one foot up towards the sky, keeping the knee bent at a 90º angle. Keep your foot flexed and push through the heel. 
  3. Ensure that you don’t arch through the spine as you reach the top of the movement. Your glute should be powering you, rather than your back muscles, and your core should be engaged with your belly button pulled in towards your spine. 
  4. Slowly lower back to tap the knee on the floor. 

Repeat for 30 seconds each side

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