Posted on March 19 2019
There's nothing wrong with squats; I like programming them to help increase overall lower-body strength. But if your goal is to transform your butt and build muscle, squats alone won't cut it. The reason being that squats are quadricep dominant, meaning your quadriceps (thigh muscles) are the main muscles targeted when performing squats.
That being said, if done correctly, you should feel your butt working as you squat since the gluteus maximus (your butt muscles) act as a synergist, muscles that help create the movement, but it's not the best exercise for building muscle in your butt.
You don't have to cut squats out of your workout plan completely, but if you want a larger butt, the best exercises to do are the ones that primarily target the gluteus muscles. Ahead, you'll find 15 exercises that will work your glute muscles like no other.
Just in case you were wondering, this is not a workout. Doing all 15 exercises at once will make it insanely hard and uncomfortable to walk, sit down, and do anything else without pain. Instead, choose three to four exercises (avoid choosing every glute bridge variation to do at once) to add to a lower-body or total-body workout.
Check out my favorite butt exercises ahead and don't forget to activate your glute muscles before you do them to maximize your results.
Fire Hydrant Exercise
- Start on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Keep your right knee at a 90-degree angle as you slowly raise your leg to the right, until it is parallel to the ground. Avoid lifting your right hip, as you should keep both hips squared toward the floor.
- With control, lower your leg back to the ground to complete the rep.
Weighted Glute Bridge
- Grab a medium to heavy dumbbell; 20 pounds is a great starting point. You can also do this exercise using just your bodyweight.
- On your mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Be sure to keep your feet underneath your knees, not in front. Place the dumbbell on top of your lower abdominals (below your belly button and above your hip bones). Hold the dumbbell in place with both hands to prevent it from moving.
- Raise your hips up to the ceiling, tensing your abs and squeezing your butt as you do. You should be making a long diagonal line with your body, from shoulders to knees.
- Hold for three seconds, making sure your spine doesn't round and your hips don't sag. Keep your abs and butt muscles engaged.
- Lower down to the ground; this is considered one rep.
Bulgarian Split Squat
- Grab a pair of 10-pound dumbbells. Begin by placing the toes of your left foot on a bench, box, stair, or chair, with your right leg straight.
- Make sure your right foot is out far enough so that when you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your ankle.
- Bend your right knee, squeeze your left glute, and lower your pelvis toward the ground.
- Press your right heel into the ground to straighten your right knee. This completes one rep.
Lateral Band Walk
- Place a resistance band around your ankles. Start with a lighter band and work your way up to a heavier band.
- Begin standing with feet directly underneath your hips and your hands on your hips.
- Squat halfway down and sidestep to the right, leading with your heel to make the glute muscles engage as far as you can manage without allowing your knees to rotate toward each other. Bring the left leg toward the right with enough space to keep some resistance in the band. Concentrate on keeping your pelvis level as you move sideways.
Dumbbell Walking Lunge
- Stand upright, feet together, with 10-pound dumbbells at your sides. Take a controlled step forward with your left leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle.
- Press your left heel into the ground and push off with your right foot to bring your right leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. This completes one rep.