All The Surprising Benefits Of Having Strong Glutes

Donkey kicks do a whole lot more than give you a cute butt.

All the benefits of strong glutes that go beyond having a perky peach.
Getty Images/bojanstory

Let’s be honest: Most people add glute exercises to their routine to get a perky, peachy bum that looks great in leggings. It’s why so many squats, lunges, and bridges find their way into workout routines. But did you know there are actual benefits of having strong glutes that go beyond the aesthetics of a pert derriere? Turns out there’s a pretty long list of amazing things your butt muscles can do.

Your glutes are made up of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, says Helen O'Leary, a physiotherapist and director at Complete Pilates. The gluteus maximus is the big muscle that helps extend and rotate your hip joints as you walk or run, while the gluteus medius and minimus are the smaller muscles that take your legs into abduction by pulling them forward to assist in walking, she tells Bustle.

Even though you use them constantly as you go about your day, your glute muscles still might need extra attention during your workouts. This is especially true if you experience lower back pain, knee instability, or poor posture as it might mean your glute muscles are weak, says Rob Wagener, a NASM-certified personal trainer. You also might feel tired when walking up stairs or notice that glute-heavy exercises, like bridges or deadlifts, are extra difficult. “All these clues point towards weaknesses in this core muscle group, which should be addressed if you want optimal body balance and strength,” he tells Bustle.

Read on for all the benefits of stronger glutes as well as the best exercises for strengthening them.

The Benefits Of Strong Glutes


1. They Help You Walk, Climb Stairs, & Stand

The glutes are the main driver of motion as you walk, sit down, climb up stairs, and run. They even help you stand. That’s because they’re part of the posterior chain, which assists other parts of the body during movement, says Andrew Slane, a sports conditioning specialist and trainer at Fiture.

Think of the glutes as the main support system of the body. “Strengthening your glutes will improve your ability to perform these functions at a higher level: You can run faster, climb stairs more easily, and lift heavier objects with less difficulty,” Slane tells Bustle.

2. They Reduce Lower Back Pain

Your glutes are responsible for stabilizing the hip joint, says Slane. When your glutes are weak, everything else goes out of whack, causing lower back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and even shoulder pain. In fact, some studies have found that runners with knee pain felt a lot better after only strengthening their glutes, says Jerry Yoo, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy and founder of Next Level Physio.

“Our glutes propel us through space,” he tells Bustle. “In fact, we often see clients who are overhead athletes — tennis players or baseball pitchers, for example — who even end up with shoulder injuries stemming from weak glutes. All performance-based movements require the glutes.”

3. They Make Leg Day Possible

Strong glutes also come in clutch on leg day, especially if you plan to do lots of squats. “If your glutes are weak, they won’t provide the necessary force to complete a full range of motion,” Wagener says. “This can lead to compensatory movements, such as leaning forward, which can stress the lower back.”

Deadlifts also rely heavily on your booty muscles. “Deadlifts are a compound exercise that requires a strong posterior chain, including the glutes, to generate the force needed to lift the weight,” Wagener explains. Even a gentle yoga class requires strong glutes for you to stay balanced in poses. Basically, if you want to get the most out of lower body exercises, stronger glutes are key.

4. They Support Agility

According to Dave Candy, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy, the glutes are what accelerate you forward when running and they also help you change direction quickly. That’s why a strong glute routine is so important for all exercisers and athletes.

5. They Improve Your Posture

Strong glutes are also an essential part of having good posture, says Dominique Harris, the head exercise specialist with Novant Health CoreLife. “Strengthening your glutes helps distribute weight throughout the body more evenly,” she tells Bustle, sort of like a strong foundation. “It’s important to have strong glutes for better overall posture and stability to help in your everyday life.”

6. They Help You Feel Better Overall

Your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body, so when you give them some love in your fitness routine, you’ll feel stronger and more mobile overall. “If you find yourself setting a personal goal to feel better, stronger, and healthier, strengthening your glutes is an efficient way to improve how you feel and how you move and operate in your body,” Slane says.

Exercises For The Glutes


If you’re sold on strengthening your glutes, be sure to add staple exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, step-ups, and glute bridges into your workout routine, Wagener says. You can also do Pilates-inspired moves that work all the surrounding muscles, O’Leary says, like donkey kicks, fire hydrants, side-lying leg lifts, curtsy squats, and clamshells. And functional movements like walking, running, and stair climbing will also target your butt and ensure it gets some strengthening love. How your booty looks in your fave jeans will only be the icing on the top.

Studies referenced:

Bartlett, JL. (2014). Activity and functions of the human gluteal muscles in walking, running, sprinting, and climbing. Am J Phys Anthropol. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22419.

Buckthorpe, M. (2019). Assessing and Treating Gluteus Maximus Weakness – a Clinical Commentary. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 14(4), 655-669.

Cooper, NA. (2016). Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls. Eur Spine J. doi: 10.1007/s00586-015-4027-6.

Jeong, UC. (2015). The effects of gluteus muscle strengthening exercise and lumbar stabilization exercise on lumbar muscle strength and balance in chronic low back pain patients. J Phys Ther Sci. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.3813.

Lehecka, BJ. (2021). Gluteal Muscle Activation During Common Yoga Poses. Int J Sports Phys Ther. doi: 10.26603/001c.22499.

Macadam P. (2015). An Examination Of The Gluteal Muscle Activity Associate With Dynamic Hip Abduction And Hip External Rotation Exercise: A Systematic Review. Int J Sports Phys Ther. PMID: 26491608; PMCID: PMC4595911.

Marshall, PW. (2011). Gluteus medius strength, endurance, and co-activation in the development of low back pain during prolonged standing. Hum Mov Sci. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2010.08.017.

Martín-Fuentes, I. (2020). Electromyographic activity in deadlift exercise and its variants. A systematic review. PLoS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0229507.

McKay, J. (2020). Iliotibial band syndrome rehabilitation in female runners: a pilot randomized study. J Orthop Surg Res. doi: 10.1186/s13018-020-01713-7.

Moore, D. (202). A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of Common Therapuetic Exercises that Generate Highest Muscle Activity In The Gluteus Medius And Gluteus Minimus Segments. Int J Sports Phys Ther. doi: 10.26603/ijspt20200856.

Nelson-Wong, E. (2008). Gluteus medius muscle activation patterns as a predictor of low back pain during standing. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2008.01.002.

Neto, WK. (2020). Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. J Sports Sci Med. PMID: 32132843; PMCID: PMC7039033.

Nunes, GS. (2020). Gluteal muscle activity during running in asymptomatic people. Gait Posture. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2020.06.008.

Williams, MJ. (2021). Activation of the Gluteus Maximus During Performance of the Back Squat, Split Squat, and Barbell Hip Thrust and the Relationship With Maximal Sprinting. J Strength Cond Res. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002651.


Helen O'Leary, physiotherapist, director at Complete Pilates

Rob Wagener, NASM-certified personal trainer

Andrew Slane, sports conditioning specialist, trainer at Fiture

Dr. Dave Candy, DPT, doctor of physical therapy, owner of More4Life

Jerry Yoo, DPT, doctor of physical therapy, founder of Next Level Physio

Dominique Harris, head exercise specialist with Novant Health CoreLife