One-Leg Glute Deadlifts

If you have trouble feeling your glutes working when you do squats or lunges or if you have bad knees and can't do squats or lunges, THIS exercise is for you.

It targets the glutes with minimal thigh involvement and it could be your key to a WAY better butt. This one looks like a Bulgarian Split Squat but without the squatting.

The Bulgarian Split Squat exercise is done with your back leg up on a bench then you come down in the lunge position (aka split squat).

With THIS new exercise, however, you're going to basically be doing a one-legged stiff-legged deadlift with your back leg up on the bench.

I was actually quite amazed at how strongly this one targeted the glutes...the best part is, it hits the glutes without involving knee flexion to any substantial degree. It's all about HIP EXTENSION.

What THIS means is that you can build bigger glutes (and/or maintain glute size) when you have knee problems or injuries that prevent you from squatting or lunging.


How to Do One-Leg Glute Deadlifts

So here's what the exercise looks'll need two dumbbells and a bench for this one.



Set the dumbbells in front of the bench (I'm using a couple of 85 lb dumbbells - start lighter than this when you try these the first time).

One-Legged Glute Deadlifts

Now set your ENTIRE SHIN on the top of the bench.

You'll need this for some degree of stability. We're not trying to make this exercise unstable, per se. What we're trying to do is get your body in the right position to force the glutes to activate.

You may need to slide the dumbbells forward a bit. Set your front foot in between the two dumbbells, get into position on the bench (like you were going to do that split squat movement). Both knees should be bent but held in that same position throughout the exercise.

Bend forward and grab the dumbbells. Keep your core tight.

One-Legged Glute Deadlifts

Now pick the dumbbells up off the floor.

One-Legged Glute Deadlifts

The pressure should be on the heel of your front foot and your glute should be feeling the tension. Your glute will not only be providing the hip extension that gets you to the upright position, it's also contracting isometrically to maintain that bent-knee split position.

Come all the up until your torso is vertical.

One-Legged Glute Deadlifts

Then lower the dumbbells slowly back down and set them on the ground. Repeat the movement, lifting the dumbbells off the ground. Setting them down allows you to reset your body position and keep your lower back well stabilized.

Do your reps on one leg then switch legs. I prefer lower reps with this exercise since the glutes are powerful muscles and need to be hit hard (5 to 7 reps per set is good)

The first time you do it, don't go too heavy, as you will want to make sure your lower back is strong enough before pushing to use heavier weight.

It's important to remember, you're setting the dumbbells completely on the floor in between reps. Breathe out on the way up and keep your core tight. Try to keep an arch in your lower back throughout the movement as well.

Once you've done your reps on one leg, switch to the other leg.

One-Legged Glute Deadlifts

One-Legged Glute Deadlifts

This exercise increases lower back and glute involvement significantly. You're maintaining a bend in the front leg and only moving at the hip, which basically utilizes the glutes from the OTHER direction (known as hip extension). Instead of pushing down against something, you're using the glutes to pull your upper body up.

Because there is no active knee flexion, people with knee issues don't experience the same issues as with lunging or squatting exercises but still get excellent glute, hamstring and lower back work.


So if want a better butt (or a bigger butt) and found your thighs always took over, THIS is an exercise you'll want to try out.

Here are more tips for building larger, firmer, rounder glutes.



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