Everyone wants to get in shape as soon as they sense that summer is around the corner. However, shaping up means different things to different people.
While guys focus on losing a few pounds and buffing up their chest and arms, most girls and some guys like to sculpt the perfect derriere that will give them the confidence to strut around town in those tight new jeans. If you want to really target the glutes, you’ll definitely need some of these great butt exercises.
First thing’s first – structure your workouts
You can’t just do a few minutes of some random exercise when the mood strikes you, or do about 100 sloppy and quick repetitions before calling it quits. There are a couple of important concepts you need to understand before starting your workout:
- You need about 3 sets of 2-3 exercises for a targeted body part.
- You need a challenging weight; more than 12-15 repetitions and you are working on mostly endurance instead of growing muscles.
- You need progressive overload to make muscles grow, i.e. adding weight, increasing repetitions, adding more sets, doing a more challenging variation or slowing down for each rep.
- You can never fully isolate a muscle; other muscles will work in conjunction.
- To develop a truly great butt, you need the legs to match.
I really recommend going with a full body workout three times a week, coupled with another 2-3 sessions of cardio like running, where you would add a couple of additional butt exercises at the end to really bring up this body part.
This will ensure that you don’t develop muscle imbalances which can both make you look a bit weird and affect your health. You can switch up the exercises you chose each training session.
Do 3 sets with a challenging weight, ideally something you can only manage for 10-12 repetitions, but going as high as 15-25 is acceptable if you can only use your bodyweight. Switch to harder variations, add weight, add repetitions, slow down or add 1-2 more sets when doing the recommended sets and reps gets easy.
1. Deep Squats
When doing squats, particularly with only your bodyweight, it is best to go as low as you can while keeping your back straight, as this ensures maximum glute activation. The stance should be slightly wider than shoulder width or even a bit wider, depending on your build, and you should lower yourself down keeping a neutral spine.
To ensure that your knees don’t cave in and that your upper back doesn’t round, you can hold your palms together in front of your chest, which flares out the elbows.
Increase difficulty gradually by holding a weight in front of the chest or doing one legged squats when the exercise becomes easy. You will get strong very quickly doing these, and they will help improve flexibility as well as overall core strength.
2. Horse Stance
The horse stance or horse-riding stance is a staple of several different martial arts, and is a great way to build some strength and size in the thighs and glutes. You start by standing straight, and opening up your normal stance about a foot or two beyond shoulder-width on both sides, then you squat down as if you were going to sit back in a chair.
Your thighs should be parallel to the ground. You’ll definitely feel the burn and will have to really focus on not giving up. Try to hold this position for as long as you can. Beginners should aim for about 15-30 seconds and gradually increase this period over time.
Advanced practitioners can hold the position for 5-10 minutes.
Step-ups are a great dynamic exercise that really activates glutes and provides a good cardiovascular workout all in one. All you need a platform that is a little bit higher than your knees – somewhere around mid-thigh is good, but you can start out with a lower platform at first – e.g. a chair.
You step on it with one foot, raise your body up, and then bring the knee of your other leg up as high as you can, before stepping back down gently. You can make it a bit more difficult by holding small weights in your hands, or even something like a big water jug in front of you once you get stronger.
4. Glute Bridges
This one really hits the glutes hard, so be ready for some soreness afterwards. To perform the exercise you simply lie down on your back and, with your feet planted comfortably on the ground and knees pointed upwards, raise your butt off the floor until only your feet, backs of the shoulders and head are touching the floor.
Make sure to push the hips as high up as you can and squeeze the glutes hard at the top. The exercise quickly becomes very easy, at which point you can straighten one leg and push off one leg at a time. You can also put some weight on your lower ab area, e.g. dumbbell or big water jug, and hold it steady with your hands.
5. Rear Leg Lifts
Kneeling on your knees and hands, with arms straight, you lift one leg off the floor and push the foot toward the ceiling. Bring the leg back down slowly under control and then alternate between legs.
These can be a bit hard at first, and may cause you to cramp up a bit, so make sure you stretch properly afterwards. You can add some ankle weights or pinch a small dumbbell between your calf and hamstring to add some difficulty as you get stronger.
6. Side Leg Lifts
Lying on your side – you should use some extra padding on the floor, like a thick folded-up blanket or a couple of yoga mats – you lift one leg up, then bring it almost all the way down slowly. Once you are finished on one side, switch to the other side. This is a great one for hitting some of the smaller muscles of the legs as well as the glutes.
7. Cossack Lunges
These are a great way to improve flexibility and balance, while your legs and butt do some serious work.
With legs about a couple of feet wider than shoulder-width, you shift your weight to one side, squatting down on that leg and keeping the other one straight. Once you hit the bottom position, you point the toes of the straight leg upwards, hold for a second, then put the foot back on the ground raise slightly and shift the weight towards the other side. You repeat the same on the other side and then keep alternating.
8. Fire Hydrants
Start in a kneeling position, just like for the rear leg lifts, and then raise one leg to the side, keeping a 900 knee bend. Then you start rotating from the hip, making small circles at first and then wide swooping circles.
Do this for as long as you can, some 20-30 seconds at first, for three sets. This is a good exercise for opening up the hips, improving mobility as well as strengthening the glutes and some of the smaller muscles in the legs that are tough to target.
9. Full Bridge
Lying straight on your back with feet planted and knees up, place the palms of your hands on the ground at either side of your head, fingers pointed towards the shoulders, then begin to raise the entire body, pushing the feet and hands as you push the hips up.
This requires a decent amount of wrist and shoulder mobility, as well as some arm strength, but it is highly effective. It really hits the glutes, legs and shoulders, while at the same time stretching out the abs and upper body.
Hold the position for as much as you can – 30-60 seconds at first, but no more than 2-3 minutes as you don’t want too much blood rushing into your head for extended periods of time – then slowly go back down, and keep lying for another 60-90 seconds before getting up to let the blood flow readjust gradually.
This is a great finisher, and you can raise one leg up to add some difficulty.
10. Flutter Kicks
This is a great way to target the abs and the glutes, the two body parts every woman wants to shape up for the summer. Lying flat on the back, raise your legs off the ground to about 450, then push one up as you lower the other down, alternating them like this for as long as you can.
These are some of the best exercises for developing a full, round and firm butt that will turn heads, but you shouldn’t neglect the rest of your body or cardio work. There is no need to overdo it – with 3 training sessions a week and a focus on constantly improving, you’ll develop all the right curves in no time.