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Cardio exercises are essential for overall health and fitness, but when it comes to working your glutes, some types of cardio can be far less effective than others.

worst cardio for glutes

If you want to target your glutes while doing cardio, it’s important to avoid the worst cardio exercises for glutes and replace them with more effective alternatives.

In this article, we’ll be discussing the top seven worst cardio exercises for glute development and what you should be doing instead.

By avoiding these mistakes and incorporating more effective exercises into your routine, you’ll be on your way to building the strong, toned glutes you’ve always wanted. So, let’s get started!

Worst Cardio for Glutes

There are many forms of cardio, but some are better suited for glute workouts than others. Here are the seven worst cardio exercises for glutes:

1. Running on a flat surface

Running on a flat surface is one of the worst cardio exercises for glutes, as it doesn’t really engage the muscles in your lower body and can actually be detrimental to your glute development.

The lack of incline or decline on a flat surface means that your heart rate won’t get as high, and therefore you won’t be working your glutes as hard.

Additionally, running on a flat surface can lead to overuse injuries, such as shin splints or Achilles tendinitis.

2. Cycling with low resistance

When it comes to cycling, the amount of resistance you use can make a big difference in how effective the exercise is for glute development.

Cycling with low resistance may be fine for a steady-state cardio session, but if you’re looking to target your glutes, you’ll need to crank up the resistance. Low-resistance cycling will work your heart, but it won’t do much for your glutes.

3. Elliptical machine at low intensity

Ah, the elliptical machine. It’s a great form of low-impact cardio and can be an effective way to get in a good workout. However, if you’re not careful with your technique and intensity, it can also be one of the worst cardio exercises for glutes.

When using the elliptical at low intensity, you don’t get the same range of motion as you would with a higher-intensity session, and thus your glutes won’t get the stimulation they need.

4. Overtraining with weights

When it comes to building glute muscle, weight training is essential. But if you’re not careful, you can easily overdo it and end up doing more harm than good.

Over-training with weights will leave you feeling tired and sore for days without achieving any real progress in terms of glute development.

You might want to see results faster, but remember that the best way to build muscle is through consistent, progressive overload. So, if you want to strengthen your glutes, focus on making small changes over time rather than trying to do too much too quickly.

5. Too much steady-state cardio

Steady-state cardio is great for overall fitness, but it’s not the best option if you’re looking to target your glutes. Doing too much steady-state cardio can lead to muscle loss, which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to build your glutes.

Doing too much steady-state cardio can also lead to overuse injuries, so it’s important to keep your workouts varied and incorporate other forms of exercise into your routine.

6. Rowing machine with low resistance

Rowing machines are a great way to get an effective cardio workout and target your glutes. However, if you’re using a rowing machine with low resistance, it won’t do much for your glutes.

Low-resistance rowing can be good for warming up, but it won’t give you the intensity needed to really engage those muscles in your lower body. For maximum results , you’ll need to use the rowing machine with a higher resistance.

7. Walking on a flat surface

Walking on a flat surface is one of the least effective cardio exercises for the glutes. Walking may be a great form of exercise for overall heart health, but it isn’t going to do much for your glute muscles.

The lack of incline means that your heart rate won’t get as high, and your glutes won’t be working as hard. Your glutes are activated when your hips are flexed, so if you’re walking on a flat surface, there won’t be much glute activation.

Now we will go over what to do instead of these seven worst cardio exercises for glutes.

What to Do Instead

Before we go into specific exercises, it’s important to realize that all exercise is beneficial in some way. That said, there are certain types of exercise that are more effective for glute development than others.

Incorporate resistance training for glutes

If you’re serious about developing your glutes, one of the best things you can do is incorporate resistance training into your workout routine.

Resistance training involves using weights or other types of resistance to build muscular strength and endurance. This type of exercise will help you build muscle mass in your glutes, giving them more shape and definition.

Don’t be intimidated by resistance training; it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Start with basic exercises like squats, lunges, and hip thrusts and work your way up from there.


Squats are one of the best exercises you can do to develop your glutes. They’re easy to learn, require minimal equipment, and can be done anywhere. Plus, they target your entire lower body—including your glutes—which makes them a great full-body workout.


Lunges are another great exercise for targeting the glutes. Unlike squats, which involve two legs moving simultaneously, lunges require one leg to remain stationary while the other moves forward and backward.

This allows you to really isolate your glutes and work them more intensely than you would with a squat.

Lunges also help to improve balance and coordination, making them a great addition to any workout program.

Barbell hip thrusts

If you’re looking to take your glute workouts to the next level, barbell hip thrusts are the way to go! By using barbells, you’re able to add more resistance and really target your glutes.

If you are progressing with weight, you can work your way up to more challenging exercises like barbell glute bridges and single-leg hip thrusts.

Dumbbell hip thrusts

Unlike barbell hip thrusts, dumbbell hip thrusts involve using two separate weights. This allows you to move each arm independently, helping to target your glutes more effectively.

This exercise is a great way to work your glutes if you don’t have access to a barbell or are uncomfortable using one.

Goblet squat

Goblet squats are one of the most effective exercises for targeting your glutes. This exercise combines a squat position with a weight, allowing you to work your glutes more intensely than a regular bodyweight squat.

The added weight also helps to increase time under tension, which can really help activate your gluteal muscles and get you those booty gains you’re looking for. Plus, you can use any weight you’re comfortable with.

Jump squats

Jump squats are a great way to increase the intensity of your glute workout and get your heart rate up.

By adding an explosive element to the squat, you’re able to engage more muscle fibers and activate your glutes in a whole new way.

Glute bridges

Glute bridges are a great exercise for targeting your glutes, and they can easily be done at home with just a few pieces of equipment.

What’s great about this exercise is that you can really adjust the intensity depending on your fitness level and range of motion. If you’re feeling more advanced, you can add a weight to increase the difficulty.

Use the Stairmaster with resistance and incline

The Stairmaster is a great cardio machine if you’re looking to really target your glutes.

It’s like a mini-staircase in the gym, allowing you to increase the resistance and incline while you climb. This forces your glutes to work harder and helps you get more out of your workout.

Plus, it can also help improve your balance and coordination as you move up and down the stairs.

Incorporate hill sprints or incline intervals into your running routine

Hill sprints or incline intervals are a great way to take your running routine up a notch and really target your glutes. Rather than running on flat ground, you can incorporate hills into your run, which forces your glutes to work even harder.

Not only will this help build strength in your lower body, but it can also have a huge impact on your overall running performance.

Try cycling with high resistance or incorporating hill climbs

Cycling is low-impact and can be done indoors or outdoors, allowing you to really customize your experience.

When using the bike with high resistance, it’s important to pedal in short, powerful bursts rather than in a steady state. This will help you engage your glutes and get the most out of your workout.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding hill climbs to your cycling routine for an extra challenge. Hill climbs are a great way to really target your glutes and get your heart rate up.

You can go mountain biking or find a hill in your neighborhood that you can climb. Either way, it’s a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and work those glutes!

Incorporate plyometric exercises, such as jump squats or box jumps, for a cardio and glute workout

Plyometric exercises are a great way to get a cardio and glute workout all in one. Jump squats and box jumps are two examples of plyometrics that can really help target your glutes and get your heart rate up.

Jump squats involve quickly jumping into the air while you’re in a squatting position, and box jumps involve jumping onto a raised platform like a box.

These exercises are great for not only working your glutes, but also improving your power and explosiveness.

Here is a video how this looks like:

Frequently Asked Questions

After reading through the information above, you may still have questions about the best cardio exercises for glutes. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers to help guide you:

Does walking weaken the glutes?

Depending on the incline and speed of your walk, you can increase the intensity and really target those muscles.

Walking with a slight incline or even adding intervals of walking faster or slower are great ways to engage your glutes while still getting some low-impact cardio in.

Do elliptical workouts target glutes?

Yes, elliptical workouts target your glutes. You can increase the intensity by increasing the resistance or incline, or you can even do interval training with high-intensity and low-intensity periods on the machine.

What causes weak glutes?

When it comes to weak glutes, there are a few different things that can cause them.
First, if you’re not regularly engaging your glutes in your workout routine, they won’t be as strong as they could be.

Additionally, sitting for too long can cause the muscles to weaken over time due to lack of use. If you have a desk job or tend to sit for long periods of time, it’s important to incorporate glute exercises into your routine.

Why don’t my glutes fire when I run?

This is actually a common problem for runners, and there are several potential reasons why this might be happening.

One of the main causes could be due to weak glute muscles in general. If you haven’t been incorporating exercises that target the glutes into your routine, this could be the cause.

Another possible reason is incorrect form when running. If you’re not utilizing proper form, this can cause your glutes to not fire properly. Working with a personal trainer or taking classes on proper running form can help you avoid this issue.

Does climbing stairs build glutes?

Yes, climbing stairs is a great way to build glutes! Climbing stairs challenges your muscles and works the entire body, especially the glutes. You can increase the intensity by stepping faster or carrying additional weights with you as you climb.

Climbing stairs engages your core and upper body while also challenging your cardiovascular system, making it a great full-body workout. With consistent practice, it’s a great way to build and tone your glutes!

Is walking uphill good for your glutes?

Yes, walking uphill is an excellent way to target your glutes! The incline of the hill puts extra strain on your leg muscles and glutes, so you can really challenge them while getting some cardio in at the same time.

You can increase the intensity by walking faster or even carrying additional weights with you.

For an added bonus, try stair climbing instead of just walking up a hill. This can be more challenging and will help you engage your glutes even more.

Are low-impact workouts effective for glute development?

Absolutely! Low-impact workouts can be incredibly effective for glute development.
In fact, there are lots of low-intensity exercises that you can do to target and strengthen your glutes. This includes things like bodyweight exercises like bridges and squats as well as weighted exercises like donkey kicks and hip thrusts.

Low-impact exercises can also help you increase time under tension, which is important for increasing muscle growth and glute development.

What is the best way to incorporate stair stepper workouts into a daily routine?

First things first, you want to make sure that you’re warming up properly. Warm up with dynamic stretches like knee hugs and hip circles before beginning your stair stepper workout.

This will help increase blood flow to the muscles and can help reduce the risk of any potential injuries.

Next, you want to make sure that you’re increasing the intensity of your workout as you progress. Start with a moderate intensity for about 5 minutes and then increase the intensity for another 5-10 minutes.

This will help maximize your glute development and ensure that your muscles are getting an effective workout.

Finally, finish with a cooldown. This is just as important as the warmup to help prevent potential injuries. Stretch the muscles you worked and foam roll any tight areas to help reduce soreness.


Cardio is an important component of a well-rounded fitness routine, but not all cardio exercises are created equal when it comes to targeting the glutes.

Avoid exercises that primarily work the quads and hamstrings, such as the elliptical machine and cycling, and instead opt for exercises that engage the glutes, such as stair climbing and hill sprints.

It’s also important to incorporate strength training exercises that specifically target the glutes, such as squats and lunges, to see optimal results.

Aim to do cardio at least three times a week and alternate between high-intensity and moderate-intensity workouts.

It’s best to do cardio after strength training for the glutes to avoid fatiguing the muscles before your strength workout.

By incorporating these tips into your fitness routine, you can avoid the worst cardio exercises for glutes and see better results in your glute development.