Whether your goal is a butt that’s higher, firmer, rounder, or all of the above, you need a workout that targets all of the muscle groups in your posterior region. The good news is that you’ve come to the right place. The following exercises can be performed all in one workout (just make sure to give yourself 48 hours of rest before you attempt it again—you’ll need it!) or distributed among several workouts.
Five Exercises that Work the Glutes
The primary muscle groups you’ll be working are the gluteus maximus, which extends your leg behind you at the hip joint, and the glutei minimus and medius, which abduct your leg (raise it to the side) and medially rotate your hip (turn your leg inward like you’re pigeon-toed). In order to hit all these muscles, therefore, you’ll need to include moves that work your glutes in a variety of directions. Here is a routine of butt-strengthening exercises that do just that:
Reverse Lunge + Step-Up — Stand facing a flat bench or, for beginners, an aerobic step with 2–3 risers beneath it. With your right leg, take a giant step backwards and lower into a lunge. Next, push up out of the lunge and place your right foot on top of the step. Push through that foot and step up on top of the step, raising your left knee in front of you. Finally, step your left foot back down to the floor and go directly into the lunge with right foot. Perform ten reps and switch sides, starting the lunge with your left foot. Advanced exercisers may hold dumbbells at their sides or a weighted bar across their shoulders.
Plie Squat — Stand with feet in an extra-wide stance, toes turned out at an angle. Place hands on hips (beginners) or hold a single dumbbell in front of your hips, and slowly lower into a squat without leaning forward until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Squeeze your butt and inner thighs and stand back up (don’t release muscles at the top). Perform at least 15 repetitions.
One-Legged Toe Touch — Stand on your left foot with right leg off the floor and extended slightly behind you. Shift your weight onto the back of your foot and, keeping your back as straight as possible, bend at the hips and reach toward your left toe with your right hand (if you’re inflexible, place a water bottle or upright dumbbell on the floor and reach for that). Squeeze your butt and stand back upright, making sure to keep your leg and back as straight as you can (don’t lock knee). Perform 12—15 reps and repeat on the other leg. Advanced exercisers may hold a single dumbbell in their reaching hand; beginners may hold a wall for balance.
Roman Chair Hip Extension — This exercise requires the 45-degree Roman chair at your gym (ask an employee to help you locate it and adjust it). First, adjust the seat height so that when positioned in the chair you’re able to freely bend forward at the hips. Press the backs of your calves against the leg pads; then turn your toes outward. Cross your arms over your chest and slowly bend forward from the hips, keeping your back straight, lowering your torso as far as you can. Squeeze your glutes and slowly raise your upper body until it forms a straight line with your lower body (don’t arch or hyperextend back). Perform at least 10 repetitions. Advanced users can hold a weight plate against their chest.
Stability Ball Hip Abduction — Place your left knee on the floor and lean sideways (to the left) against a small stability ball, placing your left hand lightly on the floor on the far side of the ball for balance. Your right leg should be extended straight out to the right with foot flexed. Leaning into the ball, raise your right leg off the floor to hip height, making sure not to turn your toe up toward the ceiling. Lower your leg until it almost touches the floor and repeat. Perform 15 repetitions and switch sides.
Aim to perform two sets of each of these exercises twice a week for optimum results, and don’t forget to follow your strength workout with at least 20 minutes of fat-burning cardio intervals.