3 Glute-Strengthening Exercises to Try Instead of Squats

A physical therapist shares three favorite at-home glute exercises for strong, stable muscles.

If you've been doing exercise at home, you're doing a good thing. A regular exercise routine is healthy, stress-busting, and essential for keeping your body feeling strong, stable, and pain-free. Making sure to move and activate key muscles every day in some capacity is especially important for people who have to sit for long periods—aka anyone with a desk job. And one of the most significant muscle groups not to neglect is the glutes (yep, your booty contains several glute muscles that all work together and deserve regular attention).

"Glutes help to control the axis point of the body: our hips," explains Jennifer Esquer, PT, DPT, a physical therapist, influencer, and creator of The Mobility Method and The Optimal Body. "To move better through our hips, we need strong, active glutes." Because this set of muscles is so structurally essential, weak glutes—most commonly resulting from inactivity, poor posture, and sitting for prolonged periods without breaks—can be detrimental for several reasons. Essentially, when the glutes aren't strong enough—or in some cases, kind of turn off—other muscle groups step in to compensate. That sounds nice, but unfortunately, it starts to do more harm than good.

"It's very common for the low back, quadriceps, or hip flexors to start taking over when the glutes haven't been given enough love to really activate," Esquer says. "If you're feeling more tension and pressure through the front of your legs and hips and also in the low back, it might be time for some more glute-strengthening exercises." But even if you're not experiencing pain or weakness in these areas, keeping your glutes in good shape is a great way to prevent it down the line and stay strong every day.

Esquer takes us through three great glute exercises (besides squats) that you can do at home—the only equipment you technically need is a sturdy chair and a mat if you're dealing with a hard floor. These moves are low impact and easy on the knees, so you can feel safe while working through them. Get the step-by-step instructions below, then watch Esquer's demo video above for visual cues and tips on proper form. Try these glutes exercises at home.

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Hip Thrusters

Glute Exercises: Hip Thruster exercise with a chair

A) Position your shoulder blades on the edge of a chair with your feet on the floor in front. Make sure your shoulder blades are fully supported by the chair edge, your heels are lined up directly under the knees, and the core is engaged.

B) Lower your butt toward the floor, keeping the rib cage down, your core tight, chin tucked in, and your pelvis tucked underneath.

C) Be careful not to arch your back on the way down.

D) Squeeze your glutes and lift back up to starting position, making sure your body presses up in one movement.

Repeat five to 10 times.

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Bulgarian Split Squats

Glute exercises: Bulgarian Split Squat with a chair

A) Stand in front of a chair edge, facing away from the chair.

B) Bring one foot behind you and place it to rest on the chair edge, keeping the other foot on the ground in a lunge position.

C) Lower your back knee to the floor, keeping your hips in line with your shoulders and your chest slightly forward as you squat. (See the video above for a full tutorial.)

D) The front knee should always stay directly over your front ankle as you lower, so adjust how far you stand from the chair edge if needed.

Repeat 10 times on each side.

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Bridge Walk-Outs

Glute Exercises: Glute Bridge Walk Out exercise

A) Lie on the floor with your legs bent, so your knees are directly above ankles.

B) Keep your rib cage down and together, tuck the tailbone under, and squeeze the glutes as you lift your hips to a half-bridge position.

C) Keep squeezing the glutes and walk your feet out in small "steps" one at a time, without letting the hips move, rock, or dip down.

D) Walk out until you can't keep your entire foot on the ground; once you're far enough out and it feels like your toe will lift, walk the feet back to under the knees.

Repeat 10 times, alternating the starting foot.

RELATED: You Can Do This Stairs Workout in 15 Minutes—at Home

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