We all have our own personal reasons for working out and training. Some of us want to be healthier. Some of us train to be stronger. Some of us train to lose weight, and some of us train just because we want to look a certain way. It’s all right. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good and feel good about yourself!
Your Butt Has Three Main Muscles
Your butt is shaped by the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. Pretty much everyone knows about the gluteus maximus – that’s the muscle that gives your booty it’s shape and works whenever you raise your thigh, thrust your hips forward, or rotate your leg. The other two, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus work together with the maximus to raise your legs to the sides and help rotate your thigh outward or inward when your leg is straight or hips are bent.
It’s the three gluteus muscles, or glutes, that you’ll be focused on when you want to lift or shape your rear end into something that looks good in those skinny jeans – or perhaps more importantly, when you’re naked!
Why We Want to Work Out the Butt
Men and women share the same reasons for focusing a workout on the butt, actually. For men, the focus of workouts tends to be upper body muscles and maybe the legs. But when you pull on a pair of jeans and turn around to check yourself out in the mirror, you may discover you have tractor trailer ass. You know, an ass that’s flat and looks like you’ve been sitting on it for years. Training and shaping the butt isn’t just for women – women will check out men with a nice ass, too – so let’s take a look at some of the best butt exercise men and women can do to lift and shape that booty into something a little less… flat.
Butt Exercises Do More Than Make You Look Good in Your Jeans
The muscles that make up the “butt” are the glutes. Training them will do more than give you a nice-lookin’ booty – they also improve your overall health and body strength. They’re the strongest and longest muscles in your body and are the primary reason humans stand upright. The stronger your glutes are, the better your posture, athletic ability, and movement. Strong glutes also reduce your risks for many injuries. Does your lower back hurt? You probably have weak glutes. Strong glutes will also decrease your risks for injuries involving your groin, hamstrings, knees, and hips. Glutes are responsible for a number of movements, from the external rotation of the hips to extension, abduction, and posterior pelvic tilt. Glutes help us jump, run, walk, and change direction.
Best Butt Exercises for Men
Men and women have different body compositions so it makes sense that we may want to target our muscles in different ways to get the results we want. Here’s a few tried and true butt exercises to give men a strong ass that will cause women to do a double-take:
There is no better exercise for building the perfect ass than squats. There are many different ways to do a squat which allow you to target specific areas of your behind and sculpt it exactly the way you want it to look.
Barbell squats target the glutes and hamstrings. How you hold the bar will determine whether you work the glutes or the hamstrings more. A high bar position will give you a deeper squat and target the glutes, while a low bar position results in a forward lean that targets the hamstrings a little more. To make the barbell squat work hardest, keep your stance further than shoulder width apart.
Anderson squats isolate the glutes and hamstrings by having you only do the second half of a squat. So, you put the bar on the rack on pins, at the height where it would be at the bottom of your squat position. Get under the bar and explode yourself up, then slowly lower the bar back to the pins to start your next rep. Do not bounce in between squats.
Goblet squats eliminate the use of the bar and replace it with the use of a kettlebell or dumbbell that you hold at your chest. The advantage of this type of squat is you can go lower and deeper than you can with the bar, further targeting both your hamstrings and glutes.
There is also more than one type of deadlift you can do to target your glutes. Deadlifts require total body movement. To make the butt exercise as effective as possible, squeeze your glutes hard at the top of the deadlift movement each time.
Sumo deadlift – stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes pointed out at an angle. Place a barbell at your feet rolled up against your shins. Bend your knees without rounding your lower back, and grab the barbell with both hands. Press through your heels, thrust hips forward, and stand up as quick as you can. Pause at the top and reverse the motion, pushing your hips back and returning to the starting position.
If you do lunges you probably consider them a quad exercise, but the glutes are heavily engaged when you return to your standing position from the lunge. You can lunge forward, reverse, or with a barbell or dumbbells in your hands to add resistance to the exercise.
Even the name of this exercise sounds a little sexy. The hip thrust is going to build a fantastic ass. Here’s two variations of the move:
Single-leg hip thrusts – Lay on your back on a bench and place both feet firmly on the ground. Extend one leg out, push your hips upwards, and squeeze your glutes. Drive the foot that remains on the ground down for support.
Barbell hip thrust – lay on your back on a bench and place both feet firmly on the ground. Place a loaded barbell over your hips, and lift your hips up.
Best Butt Exercises for Women
Women commonly work out in order to shape and define their body, and working out the butt is no exception! Here are several butt exercises for women that will help you lift and round your rear end exactly the way you want it. You’ll be singing “bootylicious” while looking over your shoulder into the mirror in no time.
Not only will this exercise work your butt into a fine work of art, but it will also relieve tension and pain in your lower back. Use a yoga mat or some other cushioned mat to prevent tailbone pain while performing this exercise. Lie on your back, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips toward the ceiling and hold for 1 count and lower yourself back down. Each time you lift, squeeze your glutes and hamstrings. Do this exercise for 60 seconds, repeating the motion over and over.
To make this move a little harder and more work for your glutes, extend one leg out when you are at the top of your hip lift, and hold for five seconds. Keep your hips up and replace your foot to the floor before lowering your hips. Repeat on the same side for 30 seconds and then switch to extending the other leg out for 30 seconds.
This is the move for the lower, jiggly portion of your butt. Lie on the floor and bend your knees, lifting your feet until your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Slowly tap your left toes on the floor, then your right, and continue alternating for one minute.
This exercise is a strength builder. Prepare yourself – you may need to psyche yourself up to get it done! Stand with legs shoulder-width apart and lower yourself into a squat. For balance, bring your fists close to your chin. In the squat position, lift your left leg straight behind you and extend your arms forward. Return to your squat position and repeat on the other side. Keep alternating sides for one minute.
You know how dancers always have long, lean, toned bodies to die for? One of their moves is a plie. Here’s how to do it: Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and point your toes out. Bring arms straight out in front of you and lower yourself into a squat. Go as low as you can without allowing your knees to move past your toes. Tuck your tailbone under, contract your glutes, and keep your torso straight and tall. Repeat for about a minute.
This variation of the typical lunge exercise will stretch your glutes and improve your balance. Start with your feet together and hands on your hips. Lunge forward with your right leg. Jump up, switch legs while in the air, so that you are lunging forward with your left leg now. Keep alternating sides for one minute. Make sure the front leg’s knee is bend at a 90-degree angle over your ankle.
Single – Leg Front Raises
You might need a little coordination to make this exercise happen, but with a little practice you’ll be benefiting from the thigh stretch and glute tightening in no time. Hold a five-pound dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your right leg and raise about three inches from the floor and extend both of your arms out in front of you with palms facing down at about chest height. With arms straight, raise left arm above head and hold, then return to chest height. Continue alternating your arm lifts until you’ve done four reps on each arm. Lower your leg to the floor and lift your left leg. Do four reps with each arm with the left leg raised.
Quickie Dumbell Squat
When you’re pressed for time but still want to get the most out of your workout, try this best butt exercise! Choose dumbbells for each hand (recommend starting with 8 to 10 pounds). Stand with your feet shoulder width apart with arms at your sides, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Squat down as if you were going to sit in a chair behind you and keep your body weight over your heels. As you stand back up, squeeze your glutes tight. Don’t let your knees extend past your toes and repeat this move for 15 to 20 reps.
Butt Exercises Not Working? Here’s Why
If you’ve been dedicated to shaping your booty but you’re just not seeing the results you want, it may be because you aren’t activating your glutes during the workout. It won’t matter how often you do the exercise if you aren’t effectively activating that muscle.
Is your mind connected to your butt? Sounds funny, but you need to consciously think about squeezing the glute muscles which means you need a mind-butt connection. Stand up. Try to squeeze one butt cheek, hard. Can you do it? Try both sides. If you are successful, this is exactly the type of connection you need to make when doing any of the butt exercises in this article to get results. You can practice squeezing your glute muscles when you’re doing dishes, taking a walk, standing in line – pretty much anywhere! Once you’ve established that mind-butt connection, you can turn even every day activities into opportunities to shape and strengthen your glutes.
Stairs and Hiking for Glute Training
Walk up a flight of stairs normally. Do you feel anything happening in your glutes? If not, you aren’t getting much benefit from your body’s greatest asset (pun intended!) Let’s go up the stairs again. This time, as you take a step, think about using your glutes to propel yourself forward instead of relying on your quads and calves to pull yourself up. If you’re climbing stairs with your hands on your thighs to gain leverage, you’re definitely not using your glutes or they’re not strong enough. Stand tall with your shoulders held down and back. Lean forward just slightly as you step on the first step, and then propel forward by extending your hip as a result of pressing it forward with your glutes. Do you feel the difference?
Practice going up the stairs using your glutes until you’ve mastered it. Then you can do that each and every time you climb stairs to gain the benefit of a mini-glute workout.
Then, when you know what it should feel like to activate your glutes in this way, you can translate that method to hiking. Every time you hike up a hill (and maybe even a treadmill set on an incline), focus and activate your glutes to get their assistance in the climb.