The glutes are one of the largest and strongest muscles in the human body. They play a major role in maintaining an upright posture through hip extension. Whether you’re a guy or a girl, having bigger and stronger glutes is important for aesthetics and performance.
People tend to be quad-dominant, which means their quads and hip flexors are much stronger than their glutes and hamstrings. Being quad-dominant can increase the risk of injury, negatively affect performance, and lead to poor movement patterns.
One of the only ways you can address and prevent this issue is by consistently performing glute exercises. You can do several exercises to build and strengthen your glutes; however, some are better than others.
In this article, we will share with you some of the best glutes exercises that use cables as opposed to free weights or machines. Cables are very effective for hypertrophy because they are incredibly versatile, accessible, and place constant tension on the target muscle.
In fact, the cable machine made it onto our list of the best gym machines for glutes.
If your goal is to build, strengthen, and add more shape to your glutes, keep reading to see which exercises you should consider doing!
7 Best Cable Glute Exercises
- Cable Squats
- Cable Romanian Deadlift
- Cable Pull-through
- Cable Glute Kickbacks
- Cable Single-Leg Deadlifts
- Cable Reverse Lunge
- Cable Hip Abduction
Here’s our definitive list of the best cable exercises for adding strength and size to your glutes based on effectiveness, safety, and efficiency!
Benefits of cable squats
Squats are considered the king of all exercises, especially when it comes to building and strengthening the lower body. Cable squats effectively target the gluteus maximus because they are responsible for hip extension, which is a large portion of the lift.+
It’s important to note that you can manipulate your stance and depth to target the quads or glutes more. In general, using a wider stance with your feet pointed out targets the glutes more. If you tend to only feel your quads working more during squats, alter your form to emphasize your glutes.
How to perform cable squats
- Set the cable to the lowest setting.
- Attach a rope or bar to the cable and select an appropriate amount of weight.
- Grab the handle with both arms using a pronated or neutral grip, depending on your attachment.
- Take 2-3 steps back until there’s tension on the cable and the weight stack is slightly elevated. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you.
- Get into the starting position by moving your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with your toes pointed out at a 45-60 degree angle.
- Before squatting down by bending at the hips and knees, take a deep breath and brace your core. Focus on driving your knees out, keeping your chest up, and sitting slightly back.
- Once there’s a 90-degree bend in your knees, and your hips are at or below parallel, pause for 1-2 seconds.
- After the pause, drive up through your heels, and extend your knees and hips to return to the starting position. At the top of the rep, squeeze your glutes for 1-2 seconds.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Watch this video to see how to perform low cable goblet squats with proper form!
Cable Romanian Deadlifts
Benefits of cable Romanian deadlifts
Romanian deadlifts are one of the most effective exercises you can do to build and strengthen your entire posterior chain, including the glutes and hamstrings. A cable variation lets you load the muscles with constant tension, providing a better hypertrophic stimulus.
One of the ways you can target your glutes more with this exercise is by doing full hip extension at the top of the rep and focusing on squeezing your glutes. If you also perform traditional deadlifts, this exercise will help improve your lockout strength.
How to perform cable Romanian deadlifts
- Attach a straight bar to the lowest position on a cable machine and select an appropriate amount of weight.
- Grab the bar with a double-over-hand grip. Then, take a few steps back until there’s tension on the cable and the weight stack is slightly elevated.
- Get into the starting position by extending your arms out in front of you and moving your feet until they are just below shoulder-width apart, with your feet facing forward.
- Take a deep breath, brace your core, and begin the movement by pushing your hips back and maintaining a slight knee bend.
- Once you feel a good stretch in the glutes and hamstrings, pause for 1-2 seconds, then push the hips forward to return to the starting position. It’s important to keep a neutral spine during the entire movement, especially at the bottom position. You can do this by looking straight ahead, bracing your core, and not letting your lower back round.
- Squeeze your glutes together and hold that contraction for 1-2 seconds as you reach lockout.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
Check out the video below to see how to perform cable Romanian deadlifts correctly!
Benefits of the cable pull-through
The cable pull-through is a similar movement to the cable Romanian deadlift and is a great alternative to the barbell hip thrust. This exercise is much quicker to set up, targets your glutes well, and is easier to learn, so if you’re not the biggest fan of hip thrusts, then give this exercise a try!
Like Romanian deadlifts, cable pull-throughs will help increase your lockout strength on the deadlift since it focuses on hip extension. Besides the glutes, this exercise also targets the hamstrings and lower back, so it’s effective for hitting the entire posterior chain. This exercise is best performed with a rope cable attachment and flat-soled shoes.
How to perform the cable pull-through
- Set the cable to the lowest position and attach a rope attachment onto the cable.
- Stand facing away from the cable with a slightly wider shoulder-width stance.
- Hinge your hips back and grab the rope in between your legs with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Your arms should be fully extended.
- Stand up straight and take a few steps forward until there’s tension on the cable. Assume a stance that’s wider than shoulder-width with your toes slightly pointed out (~15-30 degrees)
- Take a deep breath, then begin the movement by pushing your hips back, keep a slight bend in your knees and your chest up. Like the cable Romanian deadlift, look straight forward, brace your core, and don’t let your lower back round.
- Once you feel a stretch in the hamstrings and glutes, pause for 1-2 seconds.
- Return to the starting position by pushing your hips forward and extending your knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top of each rep.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
In the video below, Colossus Fitness demonstrates how to perform a cable pull-through the right way!
Cable Glute Kickbacks
Benefits of cable glute kickbacks
In terms of isolating the gluteus maximus, cable glute kickbacks are one of, if not the most popular exercise to do. If you have a poor mind-muscle connection with your glutes, this is a good exercise to start to prime the muscle for the rest of the workout.
Additionally, you have to perform glute cable kickbacks one leg at a time to prevent and/or fix any muscle or strength imbalances. You can do this exercise with a D-handle, but if you have access to ankle cuffs, that is ideal.
How to perform cable glute kickbacks
- Move the cable to the lowest position and select an appropriate amount of weight.
- Secure an ankle cuff to your right leg and while facing the cable, attach the cuff to the cable with the clip. The clip should attach to the front of your ankle.
- Take a few steps back until you feel some resistance.
- Raise the right leg off the ground and balance on the left leg. There should be a slight bend in the support leg. Brace your core, lean slightly forward, and grab onto the tower.
- Kick your right leg back until your hip is extended. Squeeze your glute at the top of the rep and hold the contraction for 1-2 seconds.
- Return to the starting position by slowly moving your hip back to neutral with a slight bend in the knee.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Perform the same amount of reps with the opposite leg.
To see how to perform cable glute kickbacks properly, check out the video below from Hybrid Fitness!
Cable Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
Benefits of cable single-leg Romanian deadlifts
Cable single-leg Romanian deadlifts are an excellent way to increase posterior chain stability and strength. Since you’re working each leg individually, you can address muscular imbalances, which will carry over to other lifts, such as the deadlift and squat. This exercise is also great for strengthening your core and lower back.
To do this exercise, you can use a straight bar, D-handle, or rope attachment. Flat-soled shoes are recommended. Start with your weaker side and match the number of reps you get with the other leg. If you do more reps with your stronger side, then the other leg will never get a chance to catch up.
How to perform cable single-leg Romanian deadlifts
- Move the cable to the lowest position and attach a straight bar, rope, or D-handle to it, and select an appropriate amount of weight.
- Facing the cable machine, grab the straight bar with a double overhand (pronated) grip.
- Take a few steps back until you feel some resistance.
- Assume a shoulder-width stance with your feet pointed forward.
- Lift the right leg off the ground and balance on the left.
- Look straight ahead, take a deep breath, and brace your core. With a slight bend in your knees, push your hips back and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your left hamstring.
- Return to the starting position by pushing your hips forward. Squeeze your left glute at the top of each repetition.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps and perform the same amount of reps on the right leg.
In the video below, Avid Fitness shows you how to do cable single-leg Romanian deadlifts with proper form!
Cable Reverse Lunges
Benefits of cable reverse lunges
Lunges are an incredible lower body exercise because it’s a unilateral exercise that targets several muscle groups, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core. Although you can’t isolate a specific muscle with this movement since it’s a compound movement, you can emphasize the posterior chain more than the quads with some slight adjustments in your stance.
Using a wider stance will force your glutes to take on more of the load. Next time you’re doing any lunge variation, try using a wider stance to increase glute engagement! This exercise, in particular, is a reverse lunge that helps target the glutes more than the quads compared to a forward lunge.
How to perform cable reverse lunges
- Set the cable to the lowest position, attach a D-handle to it, and select an appropriate amount of weight.
- While facing the cable, extend your arm and grab the handle with your right arm using a neutral grip. Stand straight up and take a few steps back until there’s tension in the cable.
- Take a deep breath, brace your core, and step your left leg back into a lunge position while keeping your right leg forward. Bend your left knee until it touches the ground or reaches a 90-degree angle.
- At the bottom of the rep, pause for 1-2 seconds, then drive your left leg forward by stepping back to a standing position.
- Squeeze your glute at the top of the rep.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and match the number of reps you perform with the opposite leg.
Watch the video below to see how to perform goblet cable reverse lunges!
Cable Hip Abduction
Benefits of cable hip abduction
The last exercise we are going to cover in this article targets the gluteus medius, which is located on the side of the hip. This muscle is mostly responsible for hip abduction. It also plays a key role in the stabilization of the pelvis.
It may not be the most aesthetically critical muscle, but increasing the strength of your gluteus medius will have a lot of functional carryover to other lower body exercises, sports, and activities of daily living. Cable hip abduction is one of the best exercises you can do to directly target the gluteus medius.
However, it’s important to note that a key piece of equipment you need to do this exercise is ankle cuffs. Fortunately, ankle cuffs are relatively cheap and your gym may already have them!
How to perform cable hip abduction
- Set the cable to the lowest position and select an appropriate amount of weight.
- Secure an ankle cuff to your right leg and clip it to the cable.
- Face sideways or perpendicular to the cable stack. Your left leg should be closest to the tower. Take a couple of steps sideways until you feel tension on the cable.
- Lift your right leg and grab the tower with your left arm for support. You should be balancing on your left leg. It’s okay to have a slight bend in your left leg, but it is better to be fully extended.
- Take a deep breath, brace your core, and keep your leg relatively straight as you lift it out to the side.
- Once you feel a contraction in your gluteus medius, pause for 1-2 seconds before lowering your leg slowly back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions and match the reps you get with the opposite leg.
In the video below, Scott Herman Fitness demonstrates how to do cable hip abduction!
Cable-Only Glute Workout Program
Here’s an example of a cable-only glute workout program that uses this spreadsheet and Renaissance Periodization’s Glute (Glutes) Growth Training Tips as a guide.
- Week 1 – 8 sets
- Day 1 – Cable Pull-Through: 2 sets x 12 reps @ 60%, Cable Glute Kickbacks: 2 sets x 10 reps (each leg) @ 70%
- Day 4 – Cable Squats: 2 sets x 10 reps @ 70%, Cable Romanian Deadlifts: 2 sets x 12 reps @ 60%
- Week 2 – 10 sets
- Day 1 – Cable Pull-Through: 3 sets x 12 reps @ 60%, Cable Glute Kickbacks: 2 sets x 10 reps (each leg) @ 70%
- Day 4 – Cable Squats: 3 sets x 10 reps @ 70%, Cable Romanian Deadlifts: 2 sets x 12 reps @ 60%
- Week 3 – 12 sets
- Day 1 – Cable Pull-Through: 3 sets x 12 reps @ 60%, Cable Glute Kickbacks: 3 sets x 10 reps (each leg) @ 70%
- Day 4 – Cable Squats: 3 sets x 10 reps @ 70%, Cable Romanian Deadlifts: 3 sets x 12 reps @ 60%
- Week 4 – 14 sets
- Day 1 – Cable Pull-Through: 4 sets x 12 reps @ 60%, Cable Glute Kickbacks: 3 sets x 10 reps (each leg) @ 70%
- Day 4 – Cable Squats: 4 sets x 10 reps @ 70%, Cable Romanian Deadlifts: 3 sets x 12 reps @ 60%
- Week 5 – 4 sets (deload)
- Day 1 – Cable Pull-Through: 1 set x 12 reps @ 60%, Cable Glute Kickbacks: 1 set x 10 reps (each leg) @ 70%
- Day 4 – Cable Squats: 1 set x 10 reps @ 70%, Cable Romanian Deadlifts: 1 set x 12 reps @ 60%
The gluteal muscles, more commonly referred to as the glutes or butt, are a group of muscles that consist of the following:
- Gluteus minimus
- Gluteus medius
- Gluteus maximus
Each muscle is named after its size compared to the other gluteal muscles. For example, the gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three, whereas the gluteus maximus is the largest, and the gluteus medius is somewhere in-between. They are also located in different areas, but they all act on the hip and pelvis.
The gluteus maximus originates on the surface of the ilium just behind the posterior gluteal line and the posterior surface of the sacrum and coccyx. It inserts on the gluteal tuberosity of the femur and iliotibial tract (or IT-band). The primary action of the gluteus maximus is hip extension.
The gluteus medius originates on the gluteal surface of the ilium and attaches to the lateral aspect of the femur. The primary action of the gluteus medius is hip abduction.
Lastly, the gluteus minimus originates on the gluteal surface of the ilium and attaches to the anterior aspect of the femur. The primary action of the gluteus minimus is hip stabilization, but it also contributes to hip abduction.
To learn more about glute anatomy, watch the video below!
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should the glutes be trained?
The answer to this question depends on how many days per week you can realistically train. So before considering what’s the optimal amount of times you should train the glutes, it’s a good idea to select a manageable training split based on your schedule.
If glute hypertrophy is your primary goal, training them 2-3 times per week is optimal. The training frequency for glutes will also depend on your recovery capabilities. If you train your glutes 3 times per week, but you’re still sore from the second session, consider adjusting your frequency, volume, or intensity.
What intensity is optimal for glute hypertrophy?
According to Renaissance Periodization, the glutes seem to respond best to training in the 30%-85% intensity range, which is determined by your 1-rep-max. It’s a good idea to do 50% of your glute training in the 60-70% intensity range, and the other 50% can be above 70% or below 50%.
Regardless of what weight you choose, as long as you are training within 1-4 reps from failure and progressively overloading over time with proper rest and nutrition, your glutes will grow!
Is there an ideal rep range for glute training?
According to the intensity ranges listed above, the glutes will respond well to 5 reps to 30 reps. To get the most bang for your buck, do at least 50% of your glute training in the (moderate) 10-20 rep range. The other 50% can be evenly split between the (heavy) 5-10 rep range and (light) 20-30 rep range.
What exercises target the glutes?
In general, any exercise that involves hip extension or hip abduction will engage the glutes. Some of the most effective exercises for glute training are squat variations (sumo squat, goblet squat, back squat), and hip-hinge variations (i.e., deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, hip thrusts), and lunge variations (walking lunges, reverse lunges).
Not only will the exercises we covered in this article build and shape your glutes, they will also strengthen them, which is crucial for a variety of other exercises, movements, and activities of daily living. Whether you’re an athlete, average joe, or soccer mom, having strong glutes will pay dividends in the long run.
It’s quite common to have a weak posterior chain, tight hip flexors, and lower back pain. The best way to fix these issues is to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and core. These muscles work together to stabilize the spine and perform various movements. If you only have access to cables, then the exercises listed above should be on the top of your list.
Other Muscle Groups Exercises
If you enjoyed this post, check out our other collections of the best exercises for each muscle group below.
- Israetel, Mike. July, 2020. “Glute (Glutes) Growth Training Tips.” Renaissance Periodization. https://rpstrength.com/expert-advice/glute-training-tips-hypertrophy