Have you ever asked yourself, “Why won’t my upper glutes grow?” Or, “How do I give my upper glutes a natural curve?

The answer is a combination of working your upper glutes and eating right.

Working your upper glutes can be especially important if you’re a runner. A strong upper glute can make you a better runner and improve your stability. It can also help your body better balance your weight.

Read on to find out what the upper glute does and how to train it.

In This Article

Upper Glute Anatomy: Muscles at the Top of Your Buttocks

The upper glute consists of the gluteus medius muscle, a fan-shaped muscle. The other gluteal muscles are the gluteus maximus and the gluteus minimus.

The gluteus medius rotates and abducts the thigh and stabilizes the pelvis when you walk or run. It’s this muscle that allows you to lift your leg sideways.

A weak gluteus medius increases stress on the spine and can cause lower back pain. This happens because your body compensates for the weak gluteal muscle by using the muscles in your back to stabilize your body.

Benefits of a Strong Upper Glute Workout

Working your upper glutes does more than make your butt look bigger. It also provides a number of functional benefits. 

That’s because you’re strengthening a muscle that’s involved in many everyday movements, and that plays an important role in keeping your body stable. 

Strengthening it can be especially important if you’re a runner, as it can increase your running speed.

Here are the main benefits of an upper glutes workout:

  • More defined butt
  • Reduces lower back pain
  • Reduces knee pain
  • Lowers risk of ankle sprains
  • Allows you to run faster
  • Keeps your hips stable
  • Stabilizes your pelvis as you walk or run
  • Provides better support for your body throughout the day
  • Helps your lower body work more efficiently

How Do You Make Your Shelf Butt Bigger?

Your shelf butt isn’t going to get bigger unless you incorporate upper glute exercises into your workout and eat enough calories and protein. It’s that simple.

Upper Glute Exercises in Your Workout Plan

Working your upper glutes is essential to making your shelf butt bigger. These muscles may not get enough attention during routine workouts.

That’s why it’s important to incorporate the best glute exercises into your workout routine, such as one-legged glute bridges, lateral leg raises, or hip thrusts.

We’ll show you how to do these exercises properly and more later in this article. But first, let’s look at two other important factors that can affect your glutes: calories and protein.

Eat Enough Calories

A 2019 study suggests that simply eating a lot more calories than you burn doesn’t guarantee that resistance training will lead to muscle hypertrophy.

The authors recommend starting with an excess of about 350–480 calories per day. You can then adjust your intake based on your results.

Consume More Protein

Scientific research suggests that to build muscle during moderate to vigorous exercise, you should consume 1.3–1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

For example, someone who weighs 65 kilograms and follows a moderate-intensity exercise program needs to consume about 84 grams of protein per day. It’s not just about eating more protein. It’s also about when you eat it.

A 2018 study suggests that separating protein meals by 3–5 hours helps maximize muscle protein synthesis.

What Exercises Work the Top of Your Glutes?

Any exercise that requires you to move your legs away from the center line of your body will work the top of your glutes. This includes standing, supine, and side-lying exercises.

Some of the best exercises for working the top of your glutes are lateral lunges, hip thrusts, lateral leg raises, and Bulgarian split squats.

Let’s take a closer look at the best glute exercises and how to do them correctly.

Best Exercises for Upper Glutes

Lateral lunge

1.    Stand with your feet under your shoulders and engage your core.

2.    Lift your right leg to the side, place your foot down, and bend your knee.

3.    Go down until your thigh is almost side by side with the ground.

4.    Hold the bottom position.

5.    Push through your right heel to get up and bring your leg in, exhaling.

6.    Bring your other leg in the other direction.

7.    Squat left and right.

Hip thrust

For this exercise, you will need a gym bench or similar home prop. The surface of the bench should be flat.

1.   Begin by placing your upper back on the bench, putting your feet on the floor, and bending your knees.

2.    Engage your core.

3.    Lift your knees and squeeze your hips.

4.    Pause and lower your butt to the ground, exhaling.

5.    Take a breath and repeat the movement.

Lateral leg raises

1.    Stand with your hands on your hips.

2.    Squeeze your glutes and engage your core.

3.    Lean to the left and shift your weight to this side.

4.    Lift your leg to the side with a controlled movement.

5.    Maintain the position at the top and bring your leg in, exhaling.

6.    Perform all reps on one side and repeat the steps above for the other leg. 

Bulgarian split squat

For this exercise, you will need a chair or gym bench.

1.  Move one leg back and place the foot on the chair or gym bench as you face away from it.

2.    Engage your abs and put your hands on your hips.

3.    Bend your front knee into a squat so that your knee is over your toes.

4.    Move down until your back knee is two inches from the ground.

5.    Bring yourself back up, exhaling.

6.    Repeat for as many reps as you want to do, then switch legs.

Dumbbell front squat

1.   Begin by standing with feet at shoulder width, holding a dumbbell in front of your chest in each hand. Your palms should face your body.

2.   Sit your hips down and push your knees out, all the while keeping your head up. Make sure your knees don’t cave in.

3.   Squat as low as you can, ideally until your hips are below your knees. Your heels should be planted on the ground during this movement.

4.    Return to the starting position by pushing through your heels.

One-legged glute bridges

1.    Lie on the floor.

2.    Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.

3.    Lift one leg in front of you, keeping it straight.

4.    Press into your heels, squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips.

5.    Maintain the position for a moment.

6.    Return to the starting position and do as many reps as you want.

7.    Switch sides to train the other leg.

Sumo deadlift

For this exercise, you will need a barbell.

1.    Stand before the barbell with your feet wider than shoulder length and your shins an inch from the bar.

2.    Use an overhand grip to grab the bar and bring your hips back.

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3.    Place your shins against the bar and retract your shoulder blades.

4.    Pull the barbell in a straight line, extending your hips.

5.    Maintain the position at the top for a second before lowering the barbell to complete a rep.

Dumbbell lateral lunges

For this exercise, you will need a pair of dumbbells.

1.    Stand with your feet together, holding a dumbbell in each hand.

2.    Brace your core and look straight ahead.

3.   Step out to your left, bending your knee until your thigh is almost parallel to the floor. The other leg should be straight.

4.    Push off your farthest leg to return to the initial position.

5.    Repeat on the other side and alternate legs until you complete a set.

Lateral banded walks

For this exercise, you will need a hip resistance band.

1.    Place the resistance band around your legs, just above your knees.

2.    Place your feet at shoulder width and bend your knees.

3.    Engage your core.

4.    Take a step to the right with your right foot.

5.    Take a step to the right with your left foot.

6.    Continue walking laterally for as many reps as you want to do, then switch sides.


1.    Lie on your side on the floor.

2.    Place your legs one on top of the other while keeping your feet together.

3.    Engage your core.

4.    Lift your top knee toward the ceiling.

5.    Hold the position at the top for a second.

6.    Lower your knee, exhaling.

7.    Do all the reps with one leg, then flip sides and work your other leg.

Upper Glute Workout at Home

Wondering how to get a shelf on the upper glutes? Or what is the most effective glute workout you can do at home?

You can keep things simple with a short and effective workout:

  • Lateral leg raises – 3 sets of 15 reps per side with a 2-minute rest period in between sets.
  • Lateral banded walks – 3 sets of 15 reps per direction with a 2-minute rest period in between sets.
  • Clamshells – 3 sets of 15 reps per side with a 1-minute rest period in between sets.

How long does it take to grow glutes? 

It usually takes at least 6–12 weeks to start seeing the results of your upper glutes workout. The results depend on your workout, diet, rest, and other factors.

How do you target all three glutes?

You can target all three glutes by combining different glute exercises. Mix Bulgarian split squats with lateral lunges and hip thrusts to develop your entire gluteal region.

Should I train my glutes every day?

You don’t have to train your glutes every day. On the contrary, this may lead to injury and less-than-ideal results. Give your glutes at least a day of rest in between workouts. Working your glutes 2–3 times a week should be enough to see results.


In the end, here are a few key things to remember:

  • To grow a bigger upper butt, you need to work the gluteus medius muscle.
  • Developing a bigger butt requires an adequate calorie and protein intake in addition to exercise.
  • Some of the best gluteus medius exercises include clamshells, lateral banded walks, and one-legged glute bridges.
  • You don’t have to train your glutes every day.
  • A stronger upper glute will make you a better runner, increase your stability, and make everyday movements easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you work your upper glutes?

To target the upper glutes, incorporate exercises that activate the gluteus medius and minimus muscles. Side-lying leg lifts, lateral leg raises, and clamshells are effective in isolating the upper glutes. Additionally, hip thrusts and bridges with an emphasis on the top range of motion can engage the upper glutes. Consistency is key, so include these exercises in your routine, gradually increasing intensity and resistance for optimal results.

How can I make my glutes rounder at the top?

To achieve a rounder appearance at the top of your glutes, focus on exercises that target the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the gluteal region. Hip thrusts, squats, lunges, and deadlifts are effective compound exercises that engage the entire glute area, promoting overall roundness. Incorporate both weighted and bodyweight variations into your routine, ensuring proper form to maximize muscle activation.

What exercise will lift the buttocks?

For a lifted buttock appearance, exercises that target the gluteus maximus and hamstrings are key. Squats, lunges, step-ups, and Bulgarian split squats are excellent choices. Additionally, hip thrusts and glute bridges are particularly effective in isolating and activating the glutes, contributing to a lifted look. Ensure a full range of motion and proper technique for these exercises to maximize their impact on your buttock muscles.

What exercises bulk up your buttocks?

To build muscle and add bulk to your buttocks, focus on compound exercises with progressive resistance. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, and hip thrusts are fundamental for glute development. Include variations of these exercises, adjusting weight and intensity as your strength improves. Consistent training, along with a diet that supports muscle growth, will contribute to building size and definition in your buttocks.


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Written by

Chris Zibutis

Chris Zibutis is the Head Running Coach and founder of Joggo – that one person on earth who loves interval runs.  He holds a degree from Copenhagen Business School and is an avid runner – having participated in numerous marathons and triathlons, Chris brings substantial fitness and running experience to the Joggo team.