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Shaping Your Butt

Can You Get Buns of Steel?


Updated June 13, 2014

Mid section rear view of a woman with her hands on hips
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Your butt muscles include the largest muscle in the body, which makes them the number one area to focus on if you want to build a stronger, leaner lower body. Any exercise that involves the glutes (including cardio and strength training) will not only help you burn more calories, but contribute to overall fat loss for your body - providing you're watching your diet. Butt exercises alone won't necessarily burn fat from your backside, but they contribute to your overall calorie expenditure, which is how you lose weight. Your first step is to understand what muscles you're working and how to target them.

Your Butt

Your butt is composed of 3 main muscles:

Gluteus maximus
Gluteus medius
Gluteus minimus

The gluteus maximus (see pictures) is the largest muscle in your butt, so that's where most of your focus will be. The other two (the gluteus medius and minimus) are important too, though--they lie under the gluteus maximus and hold your pelvis upright every time you take a step. Not only that, your butt muscles are in charge of all the movements of your hips, including:

  • extension (moving the thigh backward)
  • external rotation (turning the thigh or pelvis outward)
  • transverse abduction (moving the thigh outward with hip bent)
  • adduction (moving the thigh inward with hip straight).

Targeting your Gluteus Maximus
If you have extra fat around your backside and want to get rid of it, you want to focus on overall fat loss. The safest and healthiest way to do that is with cardio exercise, weight training (for your entire body, not just your butt) and a healthy diet. Cardio is a must if you're trying to drop fat, so choose activities that allow you to burn the most amount of calories in the least amount of time, like these:

Now that you know how to target your butt, get all your questions answered in the FAQ's About Your Butt, learn the Top Ten Butt Exercises and, of course, a Butt Workout to target your rear.

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