Want stronger glutes? The conventional wisdom is that squats are the best way to get there. But, does that square with the data? Is there a better way to go?
The Most Effective Glute Exercises:
A study out of the University of Wisconsin La-Crosse tested to see which of 8 common glute exercises led to the most muscle activation. Traditional squats, vertical leg presses, horizontal leg presses, step-ups, lunges, fourway hip extensions, single-leg squats and quadruped hip extensions were tested. Bodyweight was used for single-leg squats and quadruped hip extensions. For all other exercises, participants lifted 80% of their 1 rep max (the most you can lift for one repetition). Here are the results:
For the gluteus maximus, squats significantly outperformed vertical and horizontal leg presses. Only quadruped hip extensions beat squats (but by a non-significant margin). For the gluteus medius, squats once again significantly outperformed vertical and horizontal leg presses. However, quadruped hip extensions, step-ups and lunges significantly outperformed squats, with quadruped hip extensions coming out on top.
Squats were confirmed as an effective glute exercise. However, this study should put quadruped hip extensions on your radar screen. They slightly outperformed squats for the gluteus maximus and significantly outperformed squats for the gluteus medius. This is even more impressive considering no weight was used for the quadruped hip extensions in the study. Adding weights could make them even more effective.
Here‘s a short video on how to do a quadruped hip extension.