6 Best Knee-Friendly Glute Exercises for Women

Want more glute gains? Try these six knee-friendly exercises. (Image via  Unsplash /Sven Mieke)
Want more glute gains? Try these six knee-friendly exercises. (Image via Unsplash /Sven Mieke)

If knee injuries keep you from getting your glutes in gear, don't worry — there are plenty of exercises you can do before seeing a physiotherapist. These six moves that prove squats aren't the only way to make glute gains will help you get the workout you desire.

Exercises that focus on the glute muscles are great for your butt, back, and legs. Unfortunately, they can also be hard on your knees if you do them without proper form. These knee-friendly moves help you get the same benefits from squats, deadlifts, and other booty-builders without hurting your joints.

Six Glute Exercises That Are Friendly to Your Knees

1) Barbell Glute Bridge

The barbell glute bridge is a great exercise for strengthening the glutes, but it's important to keep your knees from bending too much during the movement. If you have your knees bent too much during this exercise, your feet will be too close to your body, creating an awkward angle and placing more stress on your knees.


To do this without knee pain, make sure you drive through the heels of your feet and keep your feet under your knees (knees bent at 90 degrees). If necessary, this exercise can be done with a lightweight to ensure proper gluteal muscle contraction and smooth movement.

2) Cable Pull Through

Cable pull-throughs are a hamstring and glute movement that you can do when you want to train your hips without putting pressure on your knees. If you do them while standing with slightly bent knees, the main joint movement should be a hip extension.


If you feel knee pain in this exercise, keep your knees straighter and your shins perpendicular to the ground. This will force you to use the hips more and the glutes less.

3) Hip Thrust

Hip thrusts are a great way to strengthen the glutes without needing to take up too much space in a gym. They can be done with dumbbells, a barbell, or just your own bodyweight. Hip thrusts differ from other glute exercises in that you lie on your back on a bench, which increases the amount of flexion and extension at the hips.


When doing this exercise, make sure to drive through your heels rather than your toes. This will help keep the knee friendly and effective.

4) Deadlift

Deadlift is an exercise that trains your posterior chain, especially the glutes, hamstrings, and back. It can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells. With the deadlift, you will find that your knees bend more than they do in the Romanian deadlift. However, this exercise is typically considered less knee-friendly than the Romanian deadlift.


If you find that you are not experiencing knee pain while doing deadlifts, try using blocks or a rack to lift the bar off the floor. This will allow you to keep your knees straighter and target the glutes by emphasizing hip extension more.

5) Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is a great exercise for strengthening your hamstrings and glutes. It's especially good if you're looking for knee-friendly exercises to do during leg days. The Romanian deadlift is knee-friendly because it keeps the knees from flexing or extending excessively during movements.


If you're experiencing knee pain while performing this movement, try using less weight and keeping your knees slightly bent (but not locked). You can do this movement with a barbell, kettlebell, or even a dumbbell.

6) Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing is a hip extension exercise that can be a great way to train the glutes directly and incorporate power training. When you do the kettlebell swing with a glute emphasis, your knees should be nearly straight, and your shins should be perpendicular to the floor.


Form tip: Keep your knees bent at least 10-15 degrees and don't allow them to bend any further so that you can really get the most out of your glutes (and hamstrings) when performing this exercise.


If you have knee pain, it's possible that strengthening your glutes could be a helpful option– if they are not so weak, you can cause further knee pain by doing so. However, nothing beats professional advice to figure out the best way to strengthen your knees and add support to your joints.

Remember, the best exercise tip is the one that you will do consistently. Incorporating these knee-friendly glute exercises into your normal workout routine is easy and they are quick to do. Start with two sets of fifteen repetitions of each move and then aim to build up to three sets of each as you become stronger.

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Edited by Priya Majumdar