5 Best Dumbbell Glute Exercises to Strengthen, Tone and Sculpt Your Butt

Posted by Aaron Laurence on Sep 9th 2022

A male athlete performing a Bulgarian split squat in his home gym with YBell Neos.
The Bulgarian split squat is an excellent mobility exercise for power and building glute strength.

5 Best Dumbbell Glute Exercises to Strengthen, Tone, and Sculpt Your Butt

Dumbbells are great free weights that are most often used for pecs and upper-body strength and unilateral movements to correct muscle imbalances. But did you know that they’re also great for lower-body workouts? Whether it’s leg day or you’re looking for ways to train your glutes, dumbbell exercises can help you accomplish your goals from the comfort of your home gym.

This blog will discuss the benefits of working out your glutes with dumbbells, explain how to do dumbbell glute exercises, and offer some tips for training your glutes. Let's get to it!

Your Gluteal Muscles Explained

Your glutes consist of three superficial hip muscles that are posterior to the pelvis. They are the gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus, and the much lesser known tensor fasciae latae muscles.

The gluteal muscles help to stabilize your upper body and pelvis and extend the hip. The gluteal muscles are responsible for abduction and extension of your thighs, as well as the adduction, external rotation, and internal rotation of your thighs.

Gluteus Minimus

The gluteus minimus is the smallest and deepest of the gluteal muscles. It's very similar in function and structure to the gluteus medius and acts in conjunction to abduct and medially rotate the thighs.

Its main functions are:

  • Hip abduction
  • Stabilizing the hip joint
  • Stabilizing the pelvis for single-limb gait support
  • Medial (internal) rotation of the thigh

Gluteus Medius

The gluteus medius is located on the lateral aspect of the upper buttock and is mostly covered by the gluteus maximus.

Its main functions are:

  • Stabilizing the hip joint
  • Abduction at the hip joint
  • Assist in flexion, medial rotation, and lateral (external) rotation of the hip
  • Maintaining frontal plane stability of the pelvis
  • Supports the opposite side of the pelvis when walking, running, or bearing weight on one leg

Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest and heaviest muscle in your body. As such, it has the most ability to generate power and force.

Its main functions are:

  • Lateral rotation, abduction, and primary extensor of the thigh
  • Maintaining an erect posture
  • Powerful lower limb movements like stepping, climbing, and running 
  • Works with hamstrings to extend the trunk from a flexed position

Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL)

The tensor fasciae latae is a thigh muscle about 15 cm in length. The TFL works with the three gluteal muscles to control your hip movements.

Its main functions are:

  • Assist with flexion, abduction, and medial rotation of the hip
  • Assist with knee flexion and lateral rotation
  • Assist in pelvic stability when standing or walking

Tips for Glute Training

As with all strength training and functional fitness, there isn’t a singular way to train your glutes. It all depends on your fitness level and your fitness goals. Here are some general guidelines to consider for your dumbbell glute workouts:

Ways to Tone Your Gluteal Muscles

If you’re happy with the size of your butt, body weight exercises will help you to tone and sculpt your glutes for a firmer physique. Squats, lunges, bridges, and leg lifts with or without bands are excelling for sculpting muscle.

Exercises to Lift Your Butt

The best exercises to lift your buttocks will target your glutes and hamstrings. Floor exercises focusing on contracting and lengthening your hamstrings or standing movements with hip hinges are best. Some examples of movements that will make your glutes pop: donkey kicks, standard squats, or a single-leg deadlift.

How to Increase Size and Strengthen Your Glutes

While you can increase size and strength with bodyweight exercises, adding free weights like YBells or dumbbells will help you to accomplish your goal faster.

You'll want to focus on volume for hypertrophy (growing the size of your gluteal muscles). Think higher reps (15 to 25) with a challenging but not overwhelming load. You don't want to tire your muscles out too quickly.

If you’re working on strength, you’ll want to focus on your load. Increase the weight and do fewer reps (6 to 12) so you can focus on the time your muscles are under tension.

Workouts to Get a Smaller Butt

We don’t get to control where our bodies store fat. So there’s no magic bullet for losing fat in only one muscle group. However, any form of glute workouts with dumbbells in conjunction with lower body functional fitness movements will help you to burn fat and tone the muscles in your glutes, thighs, and legs.

4 Benefits of Dumbbell Glute Workouts

A glute workout has many benefits, but effectively and efficiently targeting your glutes can be hard to do with standard lower-body exercises. Adding dumbbells or YBells to your movements offers extra resistance and more variety to keep it fun and challenging.

1. Reduced Back Pain

Your glutes control your hip extension and external rotation. Strong glutes lower your back pain by assisting with pelvic, hip, and torso movements. More importantly, your glutes help evenly distribute weight (load) throughout your lower back and legs, which can significantly impact your posture.

2. Improved Balance and Posture

Your glutes are stabilizing muscles that work cohesively with your back and posterior chain muscles to prevent slouching. Additionally, the ability to pivot or change direction when walking and running requires glute strength. Strengthening and growing your glute muscles enhances your ability to quickly change direction with minimal risk of injury.

Your glutes belong to a category of muscles known as stabilizers. They work with other muscles in your posterior chain to help strengthen your back and prevent slouching.

3. Improved Hip, Knee, and Ankle Mobility

Adding dumbbell glute exercises to your workout routine improves your glute strength as well as your hip, knee, and ankle mobility. Your glutes are vital for stabilizing your pelvis and the movement in your hip joints. Strong glutes and stabilized hips mean your knee and ankle joints won’t need to compensate for poor hip mobility — all three joints can work and move cohesively.

4. Makes You a Better Athlete

Functional and resistance training for your glutes helps your balance and agility and improves overall joint mobility. Glutes are vital for acceleration, jumping, and forward propulsion during athletic activities because they create a powerful hip extension. For runners, training your glutes offers improved neuromuscular coordination, which helps you to run faster and with better stride efficiency.

5 Dumbbell Glute Exercises for Home or Gym Training

Try adding these exercises to your home gym workout for a more effective dumbbell workout for your glutes.

1. Weighted Glute Bridge

The weighted glute bridge is a deceiving movement. It looks simple, but it targets so many of your lower-body muscles that you’re definitely going to feel it the next day! When it comes to glute exercises with dumbbells, this one is perfect for beginners and experienced strength trainers alike.

Since it’s floor-based, using an exercise mat would provide extra comfort.

Muscles You’ll Target:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Tensor fasciae latae
  • Hip flexors
  • Hamstrings
  • Abdominals and core

How to Do a Weighted Glute Bridge:

  1. Lie on the floor (with or without a mat) with your knees bent. Plant your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, resting them just below your hips. This is your starting position.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core. Inhale, then push through your heels to lift your hips off the floor. You want to form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  4. Hold for 2 to 4 seconds at the top of the movement, then exhale and slowly lower your hips to your starting position. This is one rep.
  5. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps.

Regression / Progression:


  • Start with unweighted bridges to get familiar with the movement.


  • To challenge your hip stabilizers, add sliders for your feet.
  • To challenge your balance and hip stabilizers, put your feet on an exercise ball, forming a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

Adjustments for Using YBells:

  • Hold each YBell with a center grip to mimic a dumbbell.

2. Sumo Squat

If you’re new to glute exercises with dumbbells, the sumo squat is a great squat variation because it keeps the weight close to the muscles you’re targeting. You’ll also use a wider stance with this squat, which engages your glutes more than a standard squat while enabling you to do more reps to focus on hypertrophy.

Muscles You’ll Target:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Tensor fasciae latae
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Core

How to Do a Sumo Squat:

  1. Stand with your feet at least, but preferably wider than, shoulder-width apart and point your toes out about 45 degrees.
  2. Extend your arms down between your legs and hold a dumbbell vertically with both hands on one end. Turn your shoulders down slightly, but be sure to keep your chest open. This is your starting position.
  3. Inhale, then bend your knees and push your hips back as you lower down into a squat until the dumbbell touches the ground. Try to get your thighs as close to parallel with the ground as possible. Pause at the bottom of the movement to allow your glutes more time under tension.
  4. Exhale, then drive through your heels to return to your starting position and squeeze your glutes at the top for more muscle activation. This is one rep.
  5. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps if focusing on strength or 15 to 18 reps if focusing on hypertrophy.

Regression / Progression:


  • If you’re having difficulty with the wide stance, try weighted standard squats first.
  • Once you’re comfortable with weighted squats, ladder up to bodyweight sumo squats.
  • Start with lighter weights when you add the free weights back in.


  • Try holding a dumbbell in each hand if you want a heavier load or want to focus on gluteal strength.
  • Try holding the weights in a front rack position for more core activation.
  • You can also ladder up this movement by raising up just a few inches and returning to the squat position for sumo pulse squats.

Adjustments for Using YBells:

  • Try a double grip for better weight distribution when holding a single YBell in both hands. The double grip is used for double-grip med ball exercises, but the versatility of the YBell's multiple handles allows you to use it as numerous tools to adjust to your functional training needs.
  • If you’re focusing on gluteal strength and intend to use two YBells, hold them with a center grip to mimic dumbbells.

3. Curtsy Lunge With a Lateral Kick

The curtsy lunge with a lateral kick is an excellent movement to add to your dumbbell butt workout because of how well it engages your lower body. This movement is perfect for strengthening, toning, and sculpting your glutes, as well as engaging your core, thighs, and hips. It's also a great way to gauge whether you have any muscle imbalances that need to be fixed.

Muscles You’ll Target:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Tensor fasciae latae
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Abdominals and core
  • Soleus and gastrocnemius (calf muscles)

How to Do a Curtsy Lunge With a Lateral Kick:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, facing forward with your back straight and your chest open.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your elbows bent and palms facing each other, resting the weights on your shoulders. This is your starting position.
  3. Inhale and engage your core.
  4. Step your right foot backward diagonally, hitting the ground with the ball of your foot while lowering your right knee, stopping before it touches the ground. Your left knee should simultaneously bend to about 90 degrees.
  5. Exhale as you push up through your left foot to straighten your left leg while kicking your right leg out to your right side. This is one rep.
  6. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps, then switch to your left side.

Regression / Progression:


  • If you struggle with the lateral kick, try practicing the curtsy lunge as a single movement.  
  • Once comfortable with the movement, you can start with a small side kick or tap to introduce the lateral movement.
  • Continue laddering up your side kick until you can bring your leg to parallel.


  • You can upgrade to a more powerful kick by incorporating a basic Karate front kick.
  • You can also increase the weight of your dumbbells.

Adjustments for Using YBells:

  • You can use a loose grip to use the YBell as a dumbbell when resting it on your shoulders.
  • Hold the YBells in a rack position below your chin for an added challenge. This mimics a kettlebell without the discomfort in your wrist and forearm that you'd encounter with the traditional steel ball of a kettlebell.

4. Dumbbell Single-leg Romanian Deadlift

The single-leg Romanian deadlift is one of the most complex hinging glute exercises because it challenges your hip stabilizers and balance. But the challenge comes with many rewards, including reduced muscle imbalances in your hips, fewer hamstring injuries, and muscle growth (hypertrophy) of your glutes. This exercise for glutes with dumbbells is perfect for increasing size and strength.

Muscles You’ll Target:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Hip stabilizers
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Core

How to Do a Dumbbell Single-let Romanian Deadlift:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, keeping a slight bend in your knees. With your arms straight, hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your quads. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale as you shift your weight to your left leg and raise your right leg straight behind your body, hinging at the hips. In the same movement, bring your torso parallel to the floor while lowering the dumbbells toward the floor.
  3. Keep your back flat. At the bottom of the movement, your torso and right leg should form a straight line from head to foot and be parallel to the floor.
  4. Keeping your core tight, exhale and push through your left foot to stand up straight and bring yourself back to the starting position.
  5. Squeeze your butt when you come back to the starting position. This is one rep.
  6. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps, then switch to your left side.

Regression / Progression:


  • If you have trouble keeping your balance, try starting with a standard deadlift.
  • Once you become comfortable with that movement, you can perform the single-leg variation with only body weight.
  • When you introduce weights back in, try resting your back foot on a chair or weight bench for balance.


  • You can increase the weight of your dumbbells for an added challenge.
  • Another option is to make this a multiplanar movement by adding a lateral lunge at the end. For this added movement, you’ll want to engage your biceps and curl the weights up toward your chest.

Adjustments for Using YBells:

  • You can use a loose grip or center grip to hold the YBells in front of you.

5. Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squats

The Bulgarian split squat is a powerhouse lower-body functional fitness movement that'll strengthen your glutes, thighs, and calves. And your core and hip stabilizers will also be challenged in this unilateral movement. Experienced weightlifters should add this exercise to their training to improve their deadlift performance. And anyone looking to tone their gluteal physique will want this exercise in their dumbbell butt workout.

Note that a weight bench is needed for this movement, but you can also rest your leg on a chair or any other stationary object.

Muscles You’ll Target:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Tensor fasciae latae
  • Hip stabilizers
  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Core
  • Soleus and gastrocnemius (calf muscles)

How to Do a Bulgarian Split Squat:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart about 2 feet in front of your weight bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms down by your side. Keep your chest up and open and shoulders down.
  2. Lift your left leg up and place the top of your foot on the bench, keeping your feet the same distance apart. Your right foot should be far enough forward to allow you to lunge comfortably. This is your starting position.
  3. Inhale, engage your core, then roll your shoulders back and hinge slightly forward as you bend your right knee to lower down into a squat. Maintain the forward lean so your left knee can drop towards the floor as you move into the squat. Stop when your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
  4. Now exhale, engage your quads and hamstrings, and push through your right foot to return to your starting position. This is one rep.
  5. Repeat for 6 to 10 reps, then switch sides.

Regression / Progression:


  • Try this movement with both feet on the ground if you struggle with the unilateral movement.
  • From there, try the split squat without weights.
  • Start with a smaller weight as you introduce them back in.


  • You can use heavier weights for more load.
  • Another option to ladder up this movement is to use a barbell.

Adjustments for Using YBells:

  • Hold the YBells to your sides with a center grip to mimic a dumbbell.
  • You can hold the YBells in a rack position below your chin if you're progressing the movement without a barbell.

Buy the Best Free Weights for Home Training at YBell Fitness!

As you can see, dumbbell exercises are an excellent option for toning your glutes. No wonder they're commonly used in hypertrophy, mobility training, and functional fitness. And dumbbells can be especially helpful compared to specialized machines if you have limited space for a home gym.

However, if you’re looking for home workout equipment that’s multifunctional, cost-effective, and saves space, you should consider YBells. The YBell is a compact, portable functional fitness tool that you can use for all your dumbbell, kettlebell, double-grip medicine ball, and push-up bar exercises. Its award-winning design offers unique grips that allow you to easily transition between movements and equipment, making it ideal for any full-body or lower-body exercise for glutes with dumbbells.

How to Use YBells to Perform Dumbbell Exercises

The weight is evenly distributed around your hand when you hold the YBell from the center handle, called a center grip. With a top lock on the YBell, you can shift your focus to the upper part of your arms and stabilize your wrists when performing curls. You can also use a loose grip, letting the YBell form an upside-down triangle, which allows you to position the YBell on your shoulder for dumbbell presses.

Benefits of YBells vs. Dumbbells for your Glute Workout

Wondering how you can tone your glutes with YBells? For strength and resistance training, stabilization of musculature, and functional training, YBells offer the same benefits as dumbbells and more.

  1. Comfortable Weight DistributionWith dumbbells, the weight is distributed to the sides of the handle. But with the YBell’s ergonomic design, the weight is spread equally around your hand, offering more comfort during resistance training. This is especially helpful as you increase the weight or size of the YBell in your strength training.
  2. Easily Switch Between One or Two HandsThe dumbbell's handle was designed for one-handed exercises, making it ideal for isolation work. With the YBell's multiple-handle design, you can easily switch between one-handed and two-handed exercises by simply changing your grip, allowing you to use it for isolation and compound movements.
  3. Four Tools in One — A grip change is an equipment change with YBell. This means that when you change your grip, you change the weight distribution, allowing it to act as a different piece of equipment. This makes the YBell great for compound exercises and functional fitness training.
  4. Better Push-up Stand Exercises — Dumbbells are often recommended for push-up exercises because they can act as basic push-up bars. However, the weight, shape, and neoprene coating of YBells make them incredibly stable as push-up stands. The top grip also offers a broader range of motion, which increases the time your muscles are under tension and your muscle development.

FAQs About Dumbbell Glute Exercises and YBells

How Often Should I Do Glute Exercises?

Some might think exercising daily is the answer to getting a fitter, toner butt. However, rest days are vital to muscle recovery and muscle development. Performing glute exercises every day without allowing for rest could over-stress your joints and muscles, diminish your results, and cause injury.

The ideal frequency for working your glutes is two or three non-consecutive days per week, depending on your fitness goals. If your goal is to create a toned physique, shoot for up to 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps, and allow at least 24 hours of rest between workouts. If you’re lifting heavy (to the point that you can only do 7 to 8 reps), you should allow at least 48 to 72 hours of rest between workouts.

Rest days don’t mean you have to be inactive, though. You can use active recovery to focus on other muscle groups.

Do Dumbbell Squats Build Glutes?

The squat is a phenomenal lower-body exercise because it's a compound exercise that targets your hips, glutes, and thighs. It's also an excellent movement for anyone working on rehabbing a knee injury. A standard squat doesn't require weights or equipment, making it a very accessible functional fitness exercise. 

As you progress and want to add complexity or variety to your routine, try adding a free weight like a YBell or dumbbell. Adding a free weight will help you to increase your intensity and build lean muscle in your quads and glutes.

Here are a few squat alternatives you can try with a free weight:

  • Hold a single dumbbell or YBell Neo with both hands between your legs. This allows you to add load without straining your back or spine.
  • Hold a single dumbbell or two YBell Arcs at chest height. This movement will really target and tone your glutes.
  • Hold a heavy dumbbell or YBell Pro in each hand for a barbell squat. Using a heavier load in this stance activates and targets your glutes.

Which YBell Should I Buy as a Dumbbell Alternative?

With our different series of YBells and weights ranging from 2.4 lb | 1.1 kg to 44 lb | 20 kg, there really is a size for Every Body, regardless of your physical fitness level or fitness goals.

If you’re looking for a lighter dumbbell substitute, just starting your fitness journey, or need a free weight for injury rehab, we recommend the YBell Arc Series or YBell Neo XS (10 lb | 4.5 kg).

If you tend to exercise once or twice per week, we'd recommend starting with the YBell Neo XS (10 lb | 4.5 kg) or YBell Neo S (14 lb | 6 kg). The multiple grip design of the YBell allows you to divvy up the weight so you can control it much more easily and safely than a standard dumbbell or kettlebell while also improving your overall grip strength.

If you exercise three to four per week and are looking for the best dumbbells for functional training, we'd recommend using the YBell Neo S (14 lb | 6 kg), YBell Neo M (18.5 lb | 8 kg), or YBell Neo L (22 lb | 10 kg).

Lastly, for those who exercise more than four times per week and have experience with resistance training, we recommend using the YBell Neo XL (27 lb | 12 kg) or the YBell Pro Series.

Where Can I Find YBell Exercises?

The YBell Fitness App and YBell YouTube Channel are great for YBell exercises and pod-style workouts. Our YBell Instagram and YBell Facebook pages are great for workout inspiration created by our worldwide community of strength trainers and workout enthusiasts. You should also check out this blog for a few unique movements you can only do with YBells.

Pick up a set of YBells today and see why our worldwide fitness community considers YBell the best alternative to traditional fitness tools like dumbbells, kettlebells, med balls, and push-up stands.

Can YBells Be Used to Improve Mobility?

YBell is a multifunctional 4-in-1 fitness tool that acts as a dumbbell, kettlebell, double-grip med ball, and push-up stand. Its unique shape and award-winning multi-handled design offer new layers of challenge to your mobility training. YBells offer variety, allowing you to increase or decrease the complexity of your mobility exercises based on your fitness level.

On top of that, we have plenty of YBell-specific mobility exercises you can try from the comfort of your home gym. More advanced strength trainers can try the crossbody clean to cross-catch rotational press, reverse lunge to pass-through, or YBell narrow stance swing.

For those new to mobility training, we’ve got YBell-specific mobility exercises for you, too! For example, halos are traditionally performed with kettlebells and are great for your shoulder and upper back mobility. However, a multi-handled YBell can turn the halo into compound movements, like YBell cross halos for lower-body mobility or pick-up cross halos and drop lunge cross halos.

The ability to transition your grip mid-exercise makes YBell ideal for your stability and safety while performing functional fitness and mobility exercises.

Aaron "Az" Laurence, Co-Founder, YBell Fitness

As a certified personal trainer and the inventor of the YBell, Aaron "Az" Laurence loves motivating people to become better versions of themselves. He enjoys designing challenging workouts for himself that he can use with his clients.
Az developed the YBell to replace the multiple pieces of equipment he was using in his group training sessions. He enjoys seeing his clients' reactions when they realize they only have to change grips on their YBells to change equipment. And he loves being able to dial up the intensity of their workouts with just one training tool.
Seeing clients progress both physically and mentally as a result of training fuels his passion for the fitness industry.