Fitness

11 Glute-Strengthening Pilates Exercises

Featuring leg circles, bridges, and more.

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Pilates workouts recruit multiple muscles, joints, and ligaments at once, which is why it’s a solid low-impact way to sweat. Instructor Olivia Bowman-Jackson says it also stretches your muscles so you feel lengthened rather than tight. Here, 11 Pilates glute exercises to try.

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Leg Lifts

Bowman-Jackson says this targets the gluteus maximus.

- On hands and knees, extend right leg back.

- With abs in, lift leg up to hip level. Pulse 2x.

- Tap foot to floor, lift again. Repeat 10x.

- For a challenge, lift opposite arm at the same time.

Repeat on each side.

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Side-Lying Legs

Try this one to work the gluteus minimus muscle, Bowman-Jackson says.

- Lie on side, head on left arm, bottom knee bent.

- Extend top leg in front of you, line up with core.

- Tap to floor 10x.

- Keep leg lifted. Do 8 circles, then reverse.

Repeat on other leg.

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Side Leg Circles

This move from instructor Tianna Strateman works your thighs, glutes, and lower abs.

- Lie on right side.

- Hips stacked, extend both legs out straight.

- Point left foot, lift it up a few inches.

- Make a small circle to engage glutes.

Do 20 reps per leg.

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Bridge

Stratemen also recommends this articulated bridge.

- Begin on back, hands at sides, knees bent, feet flat.

- Squeeze glutes, push through heels, lift hips off floor.

- Raise pelvis, lower back, then midback.

- Slowly lower in reverse order.

Repeat 8x.

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Shoulder Bridge Leg Lift

Trainer Gia Calhoun loves this move to target the glutes.

- On back, knees bent, feet hip-width apart.

- Peel tailbone off mat.

- Extend one leg to ceiling.

- Lower leg, flex foot, bring back up.

Do 8x per leg.

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Single-Leg Kicks

Calhoun also recommends these to work the hamstrings and glutes.

- Lie on stomach, legs back straight.

- Prop up onto forearms, elbows under shoulders.

- Kick one heel towards your butt, 2x.

- Reach leg straight. Repeat.

- Switch legs.

Do 8 rounds.

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Elevator Lunge

From Olivia Atwood — wear socks for easy gliding.

- Left foot forward, right leg back.

- Lower into lunge, left knee over ankle.

- Straighten back leg, press into ball of foot to rise to stand.

- Slide right leg back into lunge.

Repeat for 3 mins. per leg.

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Donkey Kick

This glute exercise has lots of variations to work with, Atwood says.

- On all fours, flat back. Extend left leg straight behind you.

- Bring left knee in to left elbow. Extend left leg straight.

- Add a straight leg lift, leg pulses, or a hydrant.

Do 3 mins. per leg.

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Reverse Tabletop

Instructor Ashley Patten recommends this Pilates move.

- Sit. Place hands behind you, fingers facing butt.

- Engage abs, lift hips. Body will form a “table.”

- Dig heels into mat to engage glutes. Body should be one line from shoulders to knees.

Lower, repeat 8x.

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Kneeling Side Kicks

Patten also loves this challenging move.

- Kneel with arms out to a “T.”

- Tip to right. Place right hand under shoulder, knee under hip.

- With left hand behind head, lift top leg to hip height.

- Kick leg forward 2x, back 2x.

Repeat 8x per side.

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Kneeling Leg Lifts + Circles

From the previous position, Patten says circling your leg adds a challenge to the glutes.

- Keep kneeling, top leg out.

- Push through heel to bring leg in line with rest of body.

- Lift and lower leg, 8x.

- Circle leg forward then back, 8x.