Our butt is the one part of the body we can’t see very often, at least not without some effort. Yet, it’s often the one part of the body we’re the most concerned with. Just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean other people aren’t looking, right? And most of us aren’t very happy with our butts.
We think they’re too small, too big, too saggy, too flabby – this list goes on. The right strength training exercises really can make a difference in your backside, depending on your body type and genetics.
Here are 20 tough but effective butt exercises for a strong, shapely butt that even you can’t help but stare and want to feel all the time.
1. Barbell hip thrust
How to do it: Sit on the ground with your back against a bench, feet planted firmly in front of you, and a padded barbell in your lap. Keeping the lumbar spine and knees stable, raise the barbell by extending your hips, making sure to push the hips upward using the glutes. Rise until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees (full hip extension), and then slowly descend back to the ground.
Mix up your reps and sets for this move and aim for anywhere between 3-4 sets of 6-20 reps. Some days you can go heavy for lower reps, some days you can go lighter for higher reps, and some days you can do both. Be warned, high-rep hip thrusts are brutal. The booty-burn is excruciating!
2. Glute and Hamstring extensions
This booty-shaping challenges glutes of all strength levels. If you’re new to exercise, start out with 3 sets of 15 reps. Intermediate exercisers should try 4 sets of 15 reps, holding 10 lbs, and advanced glutes can handle up to 5 sets of 15 reps, holding 25 lbs.
How to do it: Start standing, leaning forward on a back extension pad, with your toes turned out, knees bent (like a frog). Keeping your back flat, bend at your hips as far down as possible. To come up, push your thighs into the pad and squeeze your glutes, keeping your back straight the entire time. At the top, give your glutes an extra squeeze. Use a controlled tempo during the exercise: aim for a 2-3 second count on the way down, 1-2 seconds on the way up.
3. Lunge with arm reach
Reaching forward with the arms at knee height creates additional hip flexion, placing more emphasis on the gluteus maximus. When the arms are reaching forward, creating additional forward lean in the trunk, then the glutes are lengthened at both the bottom and top, creating more effective lengthening of the muscle.
How to do it: Stand tall with feet approximately hip-width apart and arms extended at chest height. Step forward with your right foot. As your weight comes down on your right leg, lean forward at your waist and reach with both hands at approximately knee height. Return to standing by pushing the right foot into the ground and driving the body back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat 6-10 times on the right leg, then do the same number on the left leg.
Want to make it more challenging? UsE a medicine ball, dumbbells, or aViPR for added resistance.
4. Lunge Jump
This is a signature sprinter move to improve power, and the added bonus is that it really pumps up your glute muscles too.
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, going as low as you can while keeping your back straight and making sure your left knee doesn’t go too far past the toe. Hold this lunge position for a 3 count then drive your right knee forward and upward.
Try to do this while working on your coordination, driving opposite arm to opposite knee. The aim is to get height, not distance, with each step. Don’t let the small range of motion fool you. Your buns are sure to be burning with this exercise.
5. Booty Blaster
How to do it: Stand at a chair, barre, or sturdy countertop. Place you forearm down on the barre and bend both knees. Keeping your knee bent, lift your outside leg behind your body until your thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Place the outside hand on the supporting thigh and resist as you extend the spine. Lift your raised leg up and down in small pulses, keeping the hip elevated to focus deep into the glutes. Do 2 sets of 20 small pulses on each leg.
Training tip: Keep the body pitched forwards from the hips so that the work is in the gluteus. not the lower back.
6. Heavy Barbell Squat
You already know that squats are one of the best butt sculptors you can do, and adding heavy weight makes them even more effective. A good goal would be to squat your own body weight. Start off with at least 4 to 6 warm-up sets to work your way up to a work set, which should be performed at the heaviest weight you can safely manage for 3 sets of 5 reps.
A sample squat series might be: 2 sets of 5 reps at 45 lbs, followed by 5 reps at 65 lbs, 5 reps at 85 lbs (progressive warm-up), and then 3 sets of 5 reps with 105 lbs.
How to do it: Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance, toes slightly turned out. Leading with your hips, lower your butt down to hip level, then stand up. Tip: From standing to squatting and back up again, the barbell should remain in a straight vertical line and always over the center of the foot.