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Best Butt Exercises

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Updated April 22, 2014

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 cardio exercise and strength training exercises really can make a difference in your backside, depending on your body type and genetics. Find out about the best butt exercises for a strong, shapely butt.

Squats

Paige Waehner

Squats are my number one favorite for the butt. It fires every little muscle fiber running through your glutes and it also hits the hips, thighs and calves as a bonus. Squats should be a staple of any basic butt routine. If squats hurt your knees, check out these alternatives.

How to:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and, for added intensity, hold weights at shoulder level or at your sides.
  2. Bend the knees, and lower into a squat, keeping the knees behind the toes.  Imagine that you're sticking your butt out behind you, but keep the torso upright and contracted.
  3. Press into the heels to stand up.
  4. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 8-16 reps

More About Squats

Lunges

Paige Waehner

Lunges are my next favorite butt exercise and, if you've done them, you certainly know why. Lunges work multiple muscles at the same time, which is why they're so effective. On the front leg, you'll target the butt along with the hamstrings while the back leg will fire up the quads and calves. What's nice about lunges is that there are a variety to choose from such as:

You can also elevate the back foot on a step or platform to really challenge both legs. This is a great move for the glutes and thighs, but please avoid this move if it aggravates any knees problems.

If you have problems with lunges, try an alternative to lunges.

Step Ups

Paige Waehner

Step ups are another great one for focusing attention on the butt. To really make it work, try choosing a platform high enough that the knee is at a 90 degree angle when bent. If that's a little too much, try using the second stair on a staircase and hold onto the rail for balance if you need to.

Another key point is to push into the heel to lift the body up and concentrate all your weight on the stepping leg. In other words, lower down gently, barely touching the toes of the other leg to the ground. You'll really feel this when you take it slow and concentrate on the working leg. Holding weights will add some nice intensity.

More Step Ups

Hip Extensions

Paige Waehner

While I'm fond of more compound moves (like the squats, lunges and step ups listed above) since they work more muscle groups, the hip extension is an exercise that targets the butt in the most specific way you can. This is a great addition to the other exercises listed above for a good, overall lower body workout.

For this move, you can hold a dumbbell behind the knee or use ankle weights for added intensity.

More Variations:

One-Legged Deadlifts

Paige Waehner

Deadlifts are great for your hamstrings, butt and lower back, but this one-legged version is killer on the butt. Doing anything on one leg adds intensity and it also involves your stabilizer muscles to keep your body balanced.  Form is critical and you should skip this exercise if you have any back problems.

To do this move, take the left leg back just a bit, lightly resting on the toe. With the weights in front of the thighs, tip from the hips and lower the weights as low as your flexibility allows. Keep your back flat or with a natural arch and make sure you keep the abs contracted to protect the back. Squeeze the glutes of the working leg to raise back up. Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps.

More Variations

Side Step Squats with Resistance Bands

Paige Waehner

I love this move for targeting the smaller muscles of the butt, specifically the gluteus medius and minimus along with the outer thigh. Because there's a squat involves, you're also getting the Big Mama Butt Muscle - the gluteus maximus as well. If you hold the handles with the arms bent, you can also get a great isometric exercise for the biceps, making this a great whole body exercise.

How to:

  • Use a band with medium-light tension and stand on it, holding onto both handles.
  • Take a wide step out to the right into a squat, keeping tension on the band.
  • Step the left foot in and continue stepping out and squatting to the right, all the way across the room (or as far as you can).
  • Repeat the other way or for about 1-3 sets of 8-16 steps.

Butt Squeezes on the Ball

Running on treadmill
Paige Waehner

If you really want to target the butt, this is a great choice. The ball adds some instability, forcing your entire lower body to work and holding weights on the upper thighs adds intensity to the exercise.

  • Begin in a bridge position, head resting on the ball, butt lifted and weights on the thighs (optional)
  • Lower the hips towards the ground and try not to let the ball roll around.
  • Squeeze the glutes to lift back to start and repeat for 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps.
  • Lift the toes for even more intensity

Hiking

Now the exercises listed above aren't the only strength moves for the glutes, but we often forget that there are cardio activities that will also engage the backside.

Hiking is one of those activities and it also burns tons of calories because you're typically going up steep mountains and maybe even getting into thin air, which requires lots of energy. Also, walking up an incline automatically gets your glutes more involved and, if you're wearing a backpack, you're really getting a workout. Plus, you get to see nature at its best. A 140-lb person burns about 390 calories in about an hour.

If you live in a flat area, try raising the incline on your treadmill to mimic hiking up a hill.

Kickboxing

Paige Waehner

Kickboxing is an excellent workout for the entire body, including the hips glutes and thighs.  Controlled front kicks, roundhouses, side kicks and back kicks work your hips, thighs and butt while complex combinations that include punches will target your abs to make them stronger. A 140-lb woman will burn up to 500 calories with 45 minutes of kickboxing.

Kickboxing Exercises and Resources

Related Video
Tone Thighs and Hips With a Resistance Band
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