This No-Squat Workout Will Fire Up Your Glutes

You don’t have to rep out tons of squats to work your glutes. In fact, that’s not the best way to work your butt—a no-squat workout might actually help you better hit your glutes.

“Squats are actually not the greatest for glute activation because there is a lot of quad engagement with them,” ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, owner of Strong with Sivan in Baltimore, MD, tells SELF. “If you don’t want to do squats, you can do other exercises that will target the glutes even better because they are taking the quads out of the equation.”

The squatting movement pattern does help you work your glutes, but the hip hinge and glute bridge movements tend to zero in on your butt a little more, she says. Plus, they also provide a way to get in a great butt workout if you have ankle or knee problems that make squatting painful or uncomfortable—or, to be honest, if you simply don’t like doing them.

This no-squat workout uses both the hip hinge (with moves like the staggered-stance deadlift) and the glute bridge (like with the single-leg elevated glute bridge) to zero in on your glutes. Because it’s pretty much all unilateral work too, you’ll be sure to provide equal stimulus to both sides of your glutes, something that’s super important in building balanced strength. If one side of your body is weaker than the other, it could put you at risk of injury, Fagan says.

Because you’ll be doing this workout in circuit fashion—going right from one exercise to the other without rest—you’re going to be giving your glutes a whole lot of time under tension, she says. So even though you’re not going to be lifting heavy weight here, your glutes will definitely feel the stimulus as you make your way through the rounds.

The Workout

What you need: Two sets of dumbbells—a heavier set for the deadlifts, and a lighter set for the other exercises. (You can even do the last three exercises without weight if the added resistance is too challenging, or you feel your form begin to falter, says Fagan.)



  • Complete 10-15 reps of each exercise per side, going from one exercise to the next without rest. Rest for 2 minutes after you complete the first round. Perform 4 rounds total.

Demoing the moves below are Mia Kang (GIF 1), a model and Muay Thai fighter; Jeanette Eng (GIF 2); a NASM-certified personal trainer and actress based in New York City; Lena Marti (GIF 3), a certified personal trainer; and Amanda Wheeler (GIF 4), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ community and allies.

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