How to Build Bigger Glutes Without Squats or Deadlifts

“If you want to build your glutes, you HAVE to squat and deadlift HEAVY weight!” It’s been said time and time again, but is it true? No. As a matter of fact, I am going to show you how to build bigger glutes without squats or deadlifts, AND do it more effectively.

For the sake of this post, I should mention that I am not demonizing squats or deadlifts, I just think that for most people they are very technical.

Most lifters would benefit from doing different variations of these movements that isolate the glutes more effectively.

I am going to give you 4 exercises that I use with my online coaching clients. You are not going to need much else if you want to grow your glutes effectively.

Before we get into the exercises that I recommend, I am going to explain some other areas to focus on when it comes to training in general. This will ensure that you get the most out of your time in the gym, and aren’t wasting your time.


If you wanna learn how to build bigger glutes without squats or deadlifts, you are going to have to be consistent. The most important principle of your training program is going to be adherence.

This means that it doesn’t matter if you have the most “optimal” program in the world, if you aren’t consistent with it, you are not going to see results.

Many of my online coaching clients train 3 times per week. Not because this is “optimal” for muscle growth or fat loss, but because this is what they can stick with.


Now, this term has gotten a bad rap due to the High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT workouts that have become so popular over the last couple of years.

In this case, the intensity has nothing to do with how high your heart rate is, or how many calories you are burning.

It has to do with how much weight you are lifting, and in particular, how close it is to your 1 rep max.

In other words, 300 pounds on the leg press may be very intense for you, because it is closer to the maximum amount of weight you can lift. Whereas for someone else, it may not be very intense, simply because they are stronger.

Intensity is different from person to person and is just a measure of how heavy the weight is that you are using.

For the sake of this article, I will explain intensity using RIR or reps in reserve. These are the number of reps that you are leaving in the tank. In other words, if someone was training at 1 RIR, they could do 1 more rep of the given exercise, but if they tried to do 2, they would fail.

Stimulating reps are the most underrated and undervalued part of muscle growth, not total volume.

By definition, stimulating reps are the reps that ACTUALLY MATTER. This means that if you are doing a set of 10 reps, and by the tenth rep, you cannot do another one, only the last 2-5 reps are actually stimulating reps.


Volume is more about how many sets and reps you are doing.

Low volume would be fewer sets and reps. Higher volume would mean more sets and reps.

Now let’s talk about why high volume may not be ideal for muscle growth, especially with a large muscle group like the glutes.

As long as your intensity is high (sets taken closer to failure), you can build muscle with relatively low volume.

What’s most important is not how many sets and reps you do, but the quality of those sets and reps.

Doing a bunch of sets and reps just for the sake of doing them, and not training anywhere close to failure is called junk volume.

This is something you want to steer clear of, because your glutes do not care how many sets or reps you do, they only care about how much tension you are placing on that muscle.

The closer you train to failure, the more effective reps you will accumulate, therefore the more your glutes will grow. More tension = more muscle. More muscle = larger dump truck.

Got it?

Cool. Next we are going to get into the top exercises I recommend for my clients when it comes to glute training, and how you could structure this all into a program for how to build bigger glutes without squats or deadlifts.

#1 Barbell Hip Thrust

how to build bigger glutes without squats or deadlifts

The barbell hip thrust is one of the most effective exercises when it comes to growing glutes.


Because you can load it very efficiently and safely. Also, the main job of the glutes is hip extension, which is what this movement achieves.

How to perform:

  1. Position yourself on a bench with your shoulder blades just above it.
  2. Load the barbell and position it in the crease of the hips.
  3. Your feet should be right under your knees in a 90 degree angle.
  4. Squeeze your glutes while extending your hips to the top of the movement.
  5. You should be contracting your abs as hard as you can to protect your lower back, and contracting your glutes like you are trying to crack a walnut in between your cheeks.

NOTES: You should use a barbell pad or a yoga mat so the bar doesn’t dig into your hips (this can be pretty painful). If you are feeling this movement in your lower back, this means you need to focus on tilting your hips under you and pointing your rib cage down. You should be contracting your abs as hard as possible like someone is going to punch you.

The key to progressing in this movement and any movement I will be talking about is keeping track of the weight you use. You want to use a weight that is challenging and should only have 1-2 reps left in the tank.

Then you want to be applying progressive overload—either adding in extra reps, weight, or even using a slower tempo each week.

THIS is how you are going to grow your glutes effectively. Without progressive overload, your glutes will NOT grow.

#2 Barbell RDL

how to build bigger glutes without squats or deadlifts

The Romanian Deadlift is an AMAZING exercise that targets the glutes very effectively.


It targets the glutes and hamstrings very effectively.

How to perform:

  1. Load up the bar on a rack about hip height.
  2. With a soft bend in the knee, pretend as if you are closing a door behind you with your butt. This will cause you to perform a hip hinge.
  3. Once you cannot push the butt back any further, the range of motion is over.
  4. Squeeze the glutes and exhale on the way up.

NOTES: If you find that your back is rounding or you are feeling it in your lower back, chances are you are exceeding the range of motion or not contracting your abs on the way down. Back off the weight, focus on good technique, and film yourself so you can see what’s going on.

#3 Glute Leg Press

how to build bigger glutes without squats or deadlifts

Many people don’t know this, but the leg press can be used to train your hamstrings and glutes effectively.


  1. It’s all about feet placement. When it comes to training the glutes on the leg press, you are going to want to place your feet higher on the platform. You will also want to make sure that your feet are close together.
  2. Very important here: you don’t want too much shin angle, if your shins have too much angle going on, you will be using more quads than glutes and hamstrings.

#4 Roman Chair Back Extension

how to build bigger glutes without squats or deadlifts

You have probably seen people using these absolutely wrong for years.

Here’s the thing—you should not be feeling this in your lower back. This is a great exercise for glutes, and probably one of my favorites.

How to perform:

  1. Set the height of the pad right below the crease of your hips. This super important.
  2. Choose your resistance—bands, holding onto a plate, or just bodyweight. For more advanced lifters, you can use a barbell on your back here, or even use a one-legged variation.
  3. Range of motion is very important— you want to get a good stretch on the glutes, so go down low enough to where you feel a good stretch, but not too far to where you don’t feel tension anymore.
  4. Round your shoulders and relax your back completely at the bottom of the movement. This will put more tension on the glutes and less on your lower back.
  5. Once you are in a good starting lowered position, squeeze the glutes to raise yourself back up. Important to note here– do not hyper extend the back. You don’t need to go past parallel, and will actually not even need to go fully parallel to feel the glute contraction and get the full benefit here.

NOTE: I would recommend that you practice this movement without any weight and make sure that you feel the tension on your glutes before loading it. Then I would recommend using a band to get that constant tension. Once you have mastered it, load it up using a plate to keep progressing week-to-week.

Sample Glute Day

Here’s how I would program these exercises into a glute and hamstring workout:

1.) Barbell Hip Thrusts 4×8

2.) Barbell RDLs 4×8

3a.) Glute Leg Press 3×12

3b.) Roman Chair Back Extension 3×12

Make sure to practice intensity, progressive overload, and be intentional with how much weight you are using. Don’t load more weight on the bar if your technique is sloppy. This is how people get hurt.

Go reread all of those form and technique cues I wrote behind every exercise here and you will have a dump truck in no time.

Conclusion- How to Build Bigger Glutes Without Squats or Deadlifts

If you want to learn how to build bigger glutes without squats or deadlifts, you need to implement glute-specific movments.

The glutes are targeted more effectively through other movements, and hopefully this article convinced you to build you glute training around movements that are better at targeting the glutes.

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