6 Kettlebell Glute Exercises to Help You Swing and Squat Your Way to a Stronger Butt
Kettlebells don't get the love that they should. They may seem reserved for advanced exercisers, but really, kettlebells are beginner-friendly and "one of the most versatile pieces of equipment," says Danielle Gertner, a NASM-certified personal trainer who's kettlebell-certified from the Onnit Academy. Kettlebells offer the convenient size and portability of a dumbbell while presenting a unique difficulty all their own: the spherical weight of the kettlebell can be anywhere from six to eight inches from the hand, which adds "an unparalleled challenge for core stability and stabilizer muscles," Gertner tells POPSUGAR.
If you're looking to build and strengthen your glutes, adding kettlebells to your workout is a great way to go. That's why we had six trainers, all certified in kettlebell training, share their top kettlebell glute exercises to fire up all the muscles in your butt — and, as you'll see, quite a few across the rest of your body as well.
Pick and choose some of these kettlebell glute exercises for your next leg-day workout, or do all six together for a tough kettlebell butt workout. (If you do the latter, just make sure you start with a dynamic warmup to get your body ready, then cool down with a quick stretch.) Check out our guide if you need help choosing the right kettlebell weight, then keep reading to get to work.
"This is an incredible exercise for training hip power and explosiveness," Gertner says. The kettlebell swing is "the godfather of all kettlebell exercises," adds trainer Andrew Bustos, NASM, ACE, a certified kettlebell instructor. Besides being his favorite kettlebell glute exercise, "it also works the hamstrings, abs, and many other muscles since it's a total-body exercise. I have my clients do a swing a lot because it helps to improve posture and keeps the lower back strong."
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes should pointed slightly outward. Hold a kettlebell with both hands by the flat part of the handle. Let your arms rest so the kettlebell hangs down between your legs.
- To begin, keep your back flat and engage your core. Bend at your knees, and push your glutes back.
- While keeping your arms straight, extend your hips and legs to stand, squeezing your quads and glutes. This motion should drive the kettlebell forward and up to just above shoulder height.
- Allow the kettlebell to swing down and backward between your legs to return to the starting position. That's one rep.
Single-Leg Kettlebell Deadlift
"By focusing on one side and going heavy, you can feel your glutes on the standing leg right away," says Tara Laferrara, a NASM-certified trainer kettlebell-certified through Onnit Academy. "If you pick up your opposite foot and draw your heel up towards the sky, you can get a little glute activation on that leg as well."
If you're having trouble balancing, you can perform this kettlebell glute workout move with your rear foot on the ground, in a split-stance deadlift. Just make sure to keep most of your weight in the front leg.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a kettlebell in your left hand, and lift your left foot slightly off the ground.
- Keeping your back neutral, lean your entire torso forward to lower the kettlebell down to about shin height while raising your left leg behind you. Keep your left shoulder blade pulled down your back, and keep your left hip and knee square to the floor.
- With your back straight and core engaged, lower your left leg and lift your chest to stand, returning to the starting position. That's one rep.
As far as squats go, this is the best variation for feeling your glutes the most, Laferrara says. That's "because the weight is in front, you are hinging and leaning slightly forward," she says, which puts more emphasis on your glute muscles.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes pointed slightly outward. Hold a kettlebell in front of you by the horns (the bottom edges of the handle). Pull your elbows in toward your sides.
- Keep your chest lifted, and squat until your thighs are about parallel to the ground, or as low as is comfortable for you. Keep the kettlebell close to your chest the whole time.
- Pause, then press into your heels and squeeze your glutes to stand up and return to the starting position. That's one rep.
The deadlift is one of the best butt exercises around, and this kettlebell variation is one way to do it. Hardstyle kettlebell-certified trainer Lynn Montoya recommends using a heavy weight for this kettlebell glute workout move; since you're using a lot of big muscle groups, you'll need a heavier weight to challenge them.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a kettlebell with both hands by the handle in front of your hips, arms extended long.
- With your core engaged, hinge your hips backward and bend your knees to lower the kettlebell to shin height. If you were to lower the kettlebell to the floor, it should land between your feet.
- Press through both feet to stand, squeezing your glutes, keeping the kettlebell close to your body. That's one rep.
Bulgarian Split Squat With Kettlebell
According to Hardstyle Kettlebell-certified trainer Lisa Reed, MS, CSCS, the kettlebell Bulgarian split squat is great for your glutes and hamstrings alike. You should feel the most work in your front glute with just a slight stretch in your back hip flexor. "Because of the balance factor (which also stimulates your abs), split squats are amazing for conditioning your glutes," Reed says.
Form tip: You want to make sure your front foot is out far enough so that when you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your foot. Here's a little trick to find the right positioning: sit on the edge of the step and extend one leg forward so your heel rests on the floor. Without moving that foot, stand up and place your other foot behind you on the step. You should be in the right position.
- Hold a kettlebell with both hands by the horns in front of your chest. Stand about two feet away from a step deck, bench, box, stair, or chair that's about knee height or lower, facing away from the step. Reach your left foot behind you to place the toes of your right foot on the step. Keep your right leg straight. This is the starting position.
- Bend your right knee to lower your hips until both legs are bent at about 90 degrees, or as low as is comfortable for you.
- Pause for a second, then press into your right foot to straighten your right knee, squeezing your glute, to return to the starting position. That's one rep.
The Turkish get-up is "a challenging and rewarding exercise with numerous benefits for strength, balance, stability, motor control, and mobility," says Corey Degenstein, NASM-certified personal trainer and CrossFit kettlebell coach. It'll work your glutes as well as your core and is a "fantastic exercise for people of all fitness levels," Degenstein says. However, if you're a beginner, try this move without any weight first to make sure you have the movement pattern down or seek out a trainer for help.
- Start lying on your back with your right arm extended toward the ceiling, holding a kettlebell, and your right knee bent with your foot flat on the floor. Your left arm should be extended out to the side, palm pressed into the floor, a little lower than your shoulder.
- Keeping your eyes on your right hand, lean your weight onto your left elbow so that you're half sitting up. Then transfer your weight into your left hand.
- Next, press down into your left hand and right foot to lift your pelvis off the ground, coming into a bridge. Keep your eyes trained on your right hand.
- Shoot your left leg backward to rest your left knee on the floor directly under your left hip. Your arms should be in a straight line with your left hand on the floor and right hand toward the ceiling. Your body is bent to the left, but your eyes should still be focusing on the right hand.
- Push off the floor with your left hand, and lift your chest so your torso is upright. Keep looking up at your right hand.
- Press into the right foot to stand, bringing your left leg forward to meet the right.
- Reverse the sequence to return to the starting position on the floor. That's one rep.