48 exercises to sculpt the perfect butt
Know why you should trust people who like big butts? They can not lie. Make your posterior positively perfect with these 48 exercises for gorgeous glutes.
King of exercises for great glutes, there are dozens of ways to squat: bodyweight, bar, dumbbells, using different tempo, rep ranges and foot position. Start with a classic barbell back squat: feet wider than hip width, loaded bar across your shoulders. Squat back and down to parallel and keep the tension in your legs and butt as you push up.
Deadlifts will target the back of the legs, the glutes and the lower back like nothing else. Stand behind a loaded barbell with feet hip width. Squat down, grasp the bar firmly outside your knees, tuck your chin, and stand back up again, bringing the bar with you. Keep it close to your legs and drive your hips through to finish the movement.
Hold the weighted bar across the front of your chest and shoulders, and squat back and down, keeping your chest and elbows high. You'll be able to get deeper, and maintain an upright position, great for putting the power into your glutes.
With the barbell across your upper back, position one foot forward and one back for a lunge. Lower down and up, keeping both knees at right angles. Switch legs to work the other side.
Just like a barbell lunge, but this time you step back with each rep, lower down, stand up and bring the feet together again. This is best done in a Smith machine for stability.
Kneeling hip thrusts
This is a gentle but effective way to wake up the butt muscles. Kneel back onto your heels, and explode upwards into a full kneeling position, squeezing the glute muscles as you do so. Think about opening up the hips.
Set up on all fours, and extend the left arm forward and the right leg back, until both are parallel to the floor. Don't let your back sag or your hips tilt. Bring the arm and leg back to the start and switch sides (right arm, left leg). Keep your core engaged the whole time.
Amazing for the butt, as the name suggests! Lie on your back, bring your feet in towards your butt and lay your arms by your sides, palms down. Press into your soles and heels and lift your butt up, so you are on your feet and shoulders. Squeeze your butt at the top, hold, and lower.
Step up onto a bench or solid box. Vary the technique and tempo by stepping up and down with one foot, then switching sides, or by stepping in a left/right/left/right pattern. Bring the hips through at the top and squeeze the glutes.
Body weight squats
You can do bodyweight squats anywhere, no equipment needed. Simply get into a good squat position, cross your arms over your chest, and squat back and down. Hold or pulse at the bottom, or come straight back up before repeating.
Hold a weight or kettlebell at your chest and widen your stance. Squat back and down, keeping your torso upright and chest proud. Hold the weight to your chest throughout the movement as you squat down and come back up.
This one's a bit more advanced but really builds strength and power in the hips and glutes. Kneel down with a loaded barbell across your shoulders (use a power rack). Kneel back onto your heels and squat up to a full kneeling position, pushing the hips through. Lower back down so you are sitting back on your heels.
Weighted step ups
Add weight to your step ups by holding two dumbbells, by placing a loaded bar across your shoulders, or by holding two weights plates. Step up and off a bench or solid box as before, and feel the burn!
A more dynamic version of the glute bridge, hip thrusts involved weight or resistance. Try this: set up as a glute bridge, with a weighted barbell across your hips. Use a pad to make it more comfortable. As you lift your hips, lift the weight too. You'll definitely feel this one!
Banded hip thrusts
Instead of a weight, use bands: one around your knees, and one across your hips (secured to the floor either side of you - by clips or by passing it through the handles of heavy kettlebells). The tension of the bands will act as an ever-changing resistance.
Smith machine hip thrusts
Set the Smith machine bar at the height of a bench, and lay your upper back on the bench, with the bar over your hips. Unhook the bar, lower your butt down, and drive it up into a hip thrust movement with the Smith bar acting as resistance.
Grab dumbbells, kettlebells or no weight at all and walk it out. Just walk forwards for as far as you can, but lunge with each step. Take short steps so your knees remain at that 90* angle as you lunge.
Now you've located the kettlebells, put them to use. Stand with your feet hip-width and hold one kettlebell in both hands, hanging down in front of your body. Hinge at the hips, let the bell swing between your legs, and swing it back up in front of you. Think about driving it with your back, butt and hips, rather than lifting it with your arms. The swing is a consequence of a strong hip drive.
An upper body exercise, for your glutes? Yep. Try it and you'll see why the push press builds a strong butt. Stand with a loaded barbell at shoulder height, hands shoulder width. Press it firmly overhead, finishing with straight arms and bar slightly behind the line of your neck. Your glutes need to work hard to stabilise the movement.
Get out of the gym and to your nearest hill to build the strong, round glutes of track athletes. Sprint up a steep hill as fast and as far as you can (even if it's only for 10-20 seconds). Lean forward, drive with your arms, and lift your knees high. Walk or jog back down as recovery, and go again.
Stiff legged deadlifts (SLDL)
SLDL are a version of the regular deadlift which places more of the load on your glute muscles. Stand behind the loaded bar as before, but bring the feet slightly narrower together. Lean down and grasp the bar. With just a slight bend in the knees, feel the stretch in your hamstrings and glutes. Keep the butt tilted upwards as you stand up straight, bringing the bar with you (keeping it close to your legs)
Place a lightly loaded bar across your shoulders and, hinging at the hips, bend forward keeping both your legs and your torso straight. The movement is like an old-fashioned, formal bow (hence the name). Keep the legs straight as you straighten back up again. Keep the load light to protect your lower back.
Set up a deadlift, standing behind the bar as before, but take your feet very wide and point your toes out. Squat down to grasp the bar, with your hands inside your thighs, and stand up keeping the knees wide, chest high and arms long. Drive through the glutes and hips.
Find your gym's glute/ham machine and set up with your knees on the pad and ankles locked in place. Lower forward until your body is straight, then use your glute muscles to bring yourself back up to the kneeling start position. Ask someone to stand in front of you if you feel unsafe - you'll soon feel confident.
Banded g/h raises
Secure a resistance band to the bottom of the glute/ham machine and hold the other end at your chest once you are in position. Perform your glute/ham raises as usual but use the varying resistance of the band to add work.
Work your lower back with hyperextensions, to support the musculature of the glutes at their origin. Drive the hips into the pad of the hyperextension machine as you come up to the straight position.
One of the best ways to target your butt. If your gym has a reverse hyper machine, use it! Add weight from the stack or plates, and work on squeezing your butt at the very top of the movement, and controlling the roller as you lower it back down.
Bulgarian split squats
Stand in front of a bench, and put your back foot behind you onto the top of the bench. Jump your front foot forward so you can lunge down into the Bulgarian split squat. Drop your knee to the floor and push back up, contracting your glutes. Switch to the other side
Weighted Smith sumo squats
With your upper back pressed into the Smith machine bar, walk your feet forward and take them very wide. Unhook the bar and squat down into a sumo squat, pressing the knees out. Push up and feel the work in the glutes.
With your back against a wall, walk the feet forward so you can squat down, with your back still against the wall, and a 90* angle at your knees and hips. Hold it here until you feel the burn, then push back up.
Any single legged work places more work on the muscles you're using, and single legged squats are a great place to start. Start slowly by holding onto a chair, touching the wall next to you, or holding a weight for counterbalance. Then squat down on one leg as far as you can, before standing back up. Do the other side, too.
Single-legged glute bridge
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet back near your bum, just as before. Extend one leg, keeping your knees in line. The raised leg should be out in a line from hip through the knee and to the ankle. Keep it here, and exhale as you raise your butt up into a glute bridge. Squeeze, then lower back down still with the leg raised and in line. Without touching your bum down, do another rep. Don't forget to do the other side.
Set up on all fours, lift your right foot towards the ceiling (with the knee bent), then take that foot out to the side. Now you know why it's called a fire hydrant! Pause here, squeeze your butt, and bring your leg back to the start position. Repeat for a few reps but do the other side too!
Start on all fours, and extend one leg straight out behind you with the toes pointed. Keep your core, tummy, back and glutes tight and don't sag at the hips as you lower that foot to tap the ground. Bring it back up to in line with your spine, and then tap it to the floor slightly out to the left. Again, bring it back up, then tap slightly to the right. Repeat the sequence then use the other leg.
Take a bow with this version of a lunge. Use a barbell or just body weight. Take the back foot across towards the body behind you, so your stance is much narrower than in a regular lunge. Lunge down so the knee comes to the floor. You could feel this in the outside of your glutes. Switch legs to work the other side.
Squats with raised heels
Do a body weight squat for this one - you'll see why that's enough! Squat down, and raise both heels at the bottom of the squat. Keep the heels raised as you push back up, and lower your heels before you start the next rep.
Plank with leg lift
Get into a plank position as if working your core, then bend one leg at the knee so it's at 90*. Flex that foot at the ankle, push the foot to the ceiling, and bring the leg back so the knees are together before repeating the rep. Use the other leg after you've finished on that side.
Even deadlifts can benefit from single-legged work. Don't use a weight for this. Stand feet hip width, with one foot slight in front of the other. Bend the back knee very slightly. Slowly fold forward, lifting the back foot and keeping it in line with your spine as you reach both hands toward the floor. Stand back up so the foot returns to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Start in a static lunge position and jump high in the air, switching legs as you do so, so you land with the other leg behind. Reset, then jump again, switching legs each time you leap.
Set up like for a bodyweight squat, squat down, the power up and jump high. Land softly and go into the next squat so you don't break the rhythm.
Bounds and strides
These bridge the gap between plyometrics and sprinting. Find a stretch of open space and take long, steady strides forward. Think about bounding up and forward, using your arms to propel you, and driving your knees high.
These grown-up hops will place all the work in your glutes! Hop on one leg but really drive up and forward so you cover as much ground as possible per hop. Repeat with the same leg before switching.
Attach a split rope attachment to the cable machine and set it up above knee height. Face away from the anchor point and hold the rope with both hands between your legs. Bend at the knees and hinge the hips backwards, then stand up straight, pulling the rope with you as you squeeze and drive your hips.
Weighted kick backs
Kneel on all fours with your butt underneath the bar of a Smith machine. Place the sole of one foot on the underside of the bar and drive it up, taking the foot directly towards the ceiling, and controlling the weight on the way down. Repeat on the other leg.
Get on the treadmill and crank the incline up as far as it will go, then walk at a pace which gets you out of breath. Your glutes need to work constantly to keep up with the incline, and the exercise will burn fat too, to reveal your hard work!