Have you ever seen someone at the gym with that perfectly sculpted shelf on their upper glutes and wondered, “How on earth did they achieve that?” 😳

Well, I know I have, and it sent me on a quest to figure out the secret behind it.

Turns out, it’s all about targeting specific glute muscles with the right exercises (and machines) sprinkled with a touch of determination.

So, buckle up, because I’m about to share with you everything I’ve learned about how to get a shelf on the upper glutes, and trust me, it’s going to be a game changer for your booty.

What are the upper glutes?

Purple infographic with an image of a woman doing a squat. text displays: What are the upper glutes

You might be wondering, “What exactly are the upper glutes?”

They’re the upper part of the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscles (aka your butt), responsible for giving your booty that lifted and shapely appearance. πŸ‘

How to get a shelf on the upper glutes?

Purple infographic with an image of a man with muscular glutes. Text displays: How to get a shelf on the upper glutes

The key to building a shelf on your upper glutes is to focus on targeted exercises that work the gluteus medius and maximus muscles, along with consistent training, proper nutrition, and a dash of patience.

You will learn more about the best bodyweight exercises for your booty later.

Bootylicious Exercises

Purple infographic with an image of two women performing squats. The text displays: Bootylicious Exercises

The quickest way to grow your upper glutes is with exercises that specifically target these muscles.

Lucky for you, I have done a lot of research and summarized the most rewarding exercises below.

You may thank me later 😊

#1 Deep Squats: The Lower You Go, the Higher You’ll Rise

Deep Squats

Deep squats are a fantastic exercise to target your upper glutes.

They help to engage the gluteus medius and maximus muscles, allowing you to feel the burn where it counts. πŸ”₯

And who doesn’t love a good squat, right? Follow these simple steps:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower your hips, bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor
  • Keep your chest up and back straight
  • Push through your heels to stand back up

#2 Hip Thrust: Rocket Your Glutes to the Stars

Hip Thrust

Ah, the hip thrust, an upper glute shelf’s BFF

Hip thrusts are all about isolating the glutes and maximizing activation for those booty gains. To perform a hip thrust:

  • Sit on the ground with your back against a bench
  • Place a barbell across your hips
  • Drive your hips upwards, engaging your glutes
  • Lower back down and repeat

#3 Lateral Leg Raises: Reach New Heights with This Side Show

Lateral Leg Raises

Lateral leg raises are not only an excellent way to work your upper glutes but also your gluteus medius muscle.

They help improve muscle definition and hip stability. Here’s how to do them:

  • Lie on your side with legs straight and stacked
  • Raise your top leg while keeping it straight
  • Lower your leg back down slowly
  • Repeat on the other side

#4 Bulgarian Split Squat: Time to Divide and Conquer

Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squats are fantastic upper glute exercises.

It not only gives your booty that round and thick shape, but it also helps improve balance and lower body strength. πŸ’ͺ🏼 To perform this exercise:

  • Stand with one foot in front and the other resting on a bench behind you
  • Lower your body by bending your front knee
  • Keep your chest up and your core engaged
  • Push through your front heel to return to standing

#5 Barbell Glute Bridges: Lifting Your Assets, One Rep at a Time

Barbell Glute Bridges

A must for glute activation and building that upper glute shelf is the Barbell glute bridges

They help isolate the glutes and engage both the gluteus medius and maximus muscles. To perform a barbell glute bridge:

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor
  • Place a barbell across your hips
  • Push through your heels to lift your hips, engaging your glutes
  • Lower your hips back down and repeat

#6 Banded Fire Hydrants: Unleash Your Inner Canine

Banded Fire Hydrants

Banded fire πŸ”₯ hydrants are a personal favorite of mine because they’re excellent for targeting the upper glutes and gluteus medius muscles. (There is a reason they have the word “fire” in them)

Plus, they’re just plain fun to do, and who doesn’t enjoy feeling like a dog 🐢 marking its territory? Here’s how you can perform this cheeky exercise:

  • Place a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees
  • Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips
  • Lift one leg to the side, keeping the knee bent at a 90-degree angle
  • Lower the leg back down and repeat on the other side

#7 Walking Lunge: Strutting Your Way to a Stronger Booty

Walking Lunge

Walking lunges not only help to develop your upper glutes, but they also work wonders for your quads and hamstrings.

As a bonus, they help improve your balance and coordination. You’ll feel like a total boss strutting around with these lunges: 😎

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart
  • Step forward with one foot, lowering into a lunge position
  • Push through your front heel to rise and bring your back foot forward into the next lunge
  • Repeat, alternating legs

#8 Step Up: It’s Your Time to Shine

Step Up

One of my personal favorites and most effective butt exercises to incorporate in my upper glute workouts are the step-ups. πŸͺœ

Step-ups are a fantastic upper glute exercise that also works the entire lower body. Here’s how:

  • Stand in front of a sturdy platform or bench
  • Place one foot on the platform and press through your heel to lift your body 
  • Lower yourself back down, maintaining control
  • Repeat on the other leg

#9 Reverse Hyper: Back It Up, Buttercup

Reverse Hyper

The reverse hyper is a powerful exercise to target the upper glutes and promotes lower back health. Trust me, your glutes will thank you for including this one in your routine:

  • Lie facedown on a flat bench or stability ball, with your hips at the edge
  • Extend your legs straight behind you
  • Slowly lift your legs upward, squeezing your glutes at the top
  • Lower your legs back down with control

#10 Back Extension: All Aboard the Glute Express

Back Extension

Back extensions are great for targeting 🎯 the upper glutes, as well as strengthening the lower back muscles. Remember, a strong back is essential for booty gains:

  • Position yourself on a back extension machine or Roman chair
  • Cross your arms over your chest or place your hands behind your head
  • Lower your torso, maintaining a straight line neutral spine
  • Lift your torso back up, squeezing your glutes at the top

#11 Kettlebell Swings: Swing Your Way to a Firm Fanny

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are an explosive exercise that can help your upper glutes grow and improve your overall power.

It’s time to swing that kettlebell like you mean it:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a kettlebell with both hands
  • Swing the kettlebell between your legs, keeping your back straight and hinging at the hips
  • Propel the kettlebell forward by thrusting your hips and squeezing your glutes
  • Let the kettlebell swing back down and repeat

#12 Sumo Squats: Embrace Your Inner Wrestler

Sumo Squats

Sumo squats πŸ€Όβ€β™€οΈ are a fantastic variation of the traditional squat that really targets your upper glutes and inner thighs.

Channel your inner sumo wrestler with these steps:

  • Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes turned out
  • Lower into a squat, keeping your chest up and back straight
  • Push through your heels to return to standing
  • Repeat

#13 Clam Shells: Unveiling a Pearlescent Glute Shelf

Clam Shells

Clamshells are great for working the gluteus medius and upper glutes. Plus, they make you feel like a graceful mermaid, and who doesn’t want that?

  • ​​Lie on your side with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle and stacked
  • Place a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees 
  • Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee like a clam opening its shell 🐚
  • Lower your knee back down and repeat on the other side

#14 Single Leg Hip Thrust: One-Legged Booty Magic

Single Leg Hip Thrust

Single-leg hip thrusts are an excellent way to target the upper glute muscles while also challenging your stability.

  • Sit on the ground with your back against a bench and one foot planted firmly on the floor
  • Extend your other leg straight out in front of you
  • Drive your hips upwards, engaging your glutes, while keeping your extended leg lifted
  • Lower back down and repeat, then switch legs

#15 Cable Standing Hip Abductions: Glute Gains on a Leash

Cable standing hip abductions

If you want to have a thicker upper butt I highly recommend the cable standing hip abductions. They are the cherry on top of your upper glute workout.

They’re great for isolating the gluteus medius muscle and adding some extra thickness to your upper glute shelf:

  • Attach an ankle strap to a low cable pulley and secure it around your ankle
  • Stand facing the cable machine, holding onto the frame for support
  • Lift your leg out to the side, away from the cable machine, engaging your glutes
  • Lower your leg back down with control, and repeat on the other side
Evander’s Tip

Want to do this exercise but not in the mood to go to the gym? Why not build your own gym with a cable machine?

Bonus: The Ultimate Upper Glute Workout Extravaganza

Purple infographic with an image of a woman stretching. text displays: Bonus_ The Ultimate Upper Glute Workout Extravaganza

Now that we’ve covered the best exercises to develop an upper glute shelf, let’s put them together into workout plans that you can easily follow. 

Remember, variety is key, so feel free to mix and match these workouts to keep things fresh and interesting!


ExerciseSetsRepsRest TimeBodyweight / load
Bodyweight Squats315x60 secBodyweight
Glute Bridges312x60 secBodyweight
Clam Shells312x60 secBodyweight
Step Ups315x60 secBodyweight
Beginner Upper Glute Workout


ExerciseSetsRepsRest TimeBodyweight / load
Deep Squats38x90 secLoad
Hip Thrusts38x90 secLoad
Banded Fire Hydrants312x60 secBodyweight
Reverse Hypers315x60 secBodyweight
Intermediate Upper Glute Workout


ExerciseSetsRepsRest TimeBodyweight / load
Barbell Hip Thrusts46x120 secLoad
Bulgarian Split Squats46x120 secHeavy Load
Single Leg Hip Thrusts38x90 secBodyweight
Cable Standing Hip Abductions315x60 secModerate Load
Advanced Upper Glute Workout

Bonus: Nutritional Nuggets for a Glorious Glute Shelf

Purple infographic with an image of three dishes of healthy food. text displays: Bonus_ Nutritional Nuggets for a Glorious Glute Shelf

When it comes to muscle growth in your upper glutes, your nutrition is just as important as the upper glute exercises themselves.

To promote muscle growth and recovery, you’ll want to focus on consuming high-quality protein sources, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. πŸ“

Nutrition plan

MealProteinCarbohydrates & FatFruits & Vegetables
BreakfastScrambled EggsWhole Grain ToastAvocadosMixed Berries
LunchGrilled ChickenBrown RiceOlive oilSteamed Vegetables
SnackGreek YogurtOatsNutsApple Slices
DinnerSalmonQuinoaCoconut oilRoasted vegetables
Post-workout SnackWhey Protein ShakeBananaAlmondPeanut Butter
Simple Nutrition Plan for Developing Your Glutes

By combining the right exercises with proper nutrition, you’ll be well on your way to building that fabulous upper butt. πŸ‘

The Final Booty-full Word

Getting that round shelf on your upper glutes doesn’t have to be a mystery anymore.

I’ve shared some of my favorite upper glute exercises and tips for workout routines and nutrition to help you how to get a shelf on the upper glutes that others will envy.

And let me tell you, it’s been quite the adventure trying out all these exercises and perfecting my client’s (and my own ) upper glute shelf!

So, go on and show those glute muscles some love, and don’t be surprised if you catch a few envious glances at the gym. πŸ‘€


Target the upper gluteus maximus with exercises like hip thrusts, glute bridges, and cable kickbacks. Incorporate weightlifting and progressive overload.

Perform hip extension exercises like squats, lunges, and deadlifts. Use resistance bands or weights to increase intensity.

Due to lack of targeted exercise, inadequate resistance, or insufficient calorie intake. Incorporate targeted exercises, increase weight and volume, and consume enough calories and protein.