A goal for many girls working hard in the gym is to build the perfect butt, and a heart shaped booty is a look many girls strive for.
There are many different types of butt shapes, but it seems the heart shape (otherwise known as A shaped) is the most sought after. It seems having the glutes wide at the base tapering into a small waist is the desired look.
The thing is, there’s no such thing as the ‘Perfect’ butt, and all bums are great. What one person thinks is the most attractive looking rear will conflict with what another person thinks, it’s a matter of personal preference.
But, you’ve found your way to this article. This means you either already have a Heart shaped butt and are looking to build on it, or you may be looking to grow a heart shaped booty, either way, this article’s for you.
A heart shaped butt is one that is thicker and fuller at the bottom of the bum and tapers into a comparatively smaller waist (It’s an upside down heart in all honesty!).
Women with a heart shaped rear store fat in the lower portion of the butt and upper thighs, and less around the waist – creating that sought after tapered look.
To understand how we can build our buttocks to create the look we desire, we first need to understand why the heart shape bum is the shape it is.
Our genetics have a big say in what bum shape we have. While we can train hard and eat well, it’s our genetics that has the final say in what bum shape we’ll have.
They decide where we store our fat and have a say in how well we can build muscle in certain areas.
Women with heart shaped glutes tend to store fat in the lower portion of the glutes and the upper thighs, and less on the waist. Giving the bum that fuller look and creating a larger bum to waist ratio.
It is thought that the hormone estrogen is responsible for storing fat in this way. And as levels drop as we age; fat storage can shift up into the midsection.
One thing is for sure though, if we work hard, we can make drastic improvements regardless of what genetic card we’re dealt.
As is the case with any part of your body, appearance changes based on how much muscle we have built in that particular area. If we’ve managed to build a decent amount of muscle mass in the glute region, the bums going to look fuller and perkier.
If we’re yet to start working out, and we spend the majority of our day sitting on a chair, then chances are the bum may look a little shapeless (if you’re genetically gifted then this may not be the case!).
Our bone structure gives us a rough outline of how our body is going to look. The shape of your bum, therefore, is determined by the shape of the pelvis you were born with. Some women were born with a wide pelvis, some people were born with a narrow pelvis.
Being born with a wider pelvis can help towards achieving the heart shaped bum look.
Our overall body fat % will have an impact on how our butt looks. If it's too high, then our bums going to lose their shape. We’ll also store more fat around the waist area which will reduce the waist to bum ratio, and we’ll probably end up with more of a square bum (see below).
There are 3 other common butt shapes in women:
The V shape bum is a result of carrying fat around the waist area, and less so in the bum and thighs. This then creates a V like shape from the waist down to the bottom of the bum. Dr. Schulman says the V shaped bum is more common in women with broad shoulders and narrower hips.
This is when the line from the hip bone to the other thigh is straight, it doesn’t go inwards like the V, or outwards like the heart shape. Carrying excess fat in the upper glutes (muffin top region) causes the shape of the butt to appear square. You may have already built some size in the glutes, but the excess fat is hiding them.
The round shaped butt is considered another attractive look that many women strive for. It’s when the butt curves outwards and then inwards. The butt looks strong and well trained, with fat distributed evenly across the entire region, creating the natural round shape.
We now know the following factors contribute to building a heart shaped bum:
While we can’t change our genetics and bone structure, we can change our muscle mass and body fat.
So even if our genetics decide that they don’t like storing fat in the bum, and we’re born with a narrow pelvis, building a heart shaped ass is still achievable – we may just have to work that little bit harder than those gifted with good genetics and born with a wide pelvis.
One of the main characteristics of the heart shaped bum is the ratio between the bum and the waist. In order to increase the ratio we can do 2 things:
We can decrease the size of our waist by dropping our body fat percentage and increase the size of our bum by training it correctly.
Our recent article ‘How much should I be eating to cut body fat?’ & ‘Weight training for weight loss’ are the 2 we recommend reading to learn how to drop body fat, covering point number 1.
Today’s article is all about point number 2 – Increasing the size of our bum.
The glutes are made up of three main muscles:
The gluteus maximas is the largest and most superficial of the 3. Being the largest, it provides most of the shape to the buttock region. One of the most powerful muscles in the body, the gluteus maximas role is primarily hip extension, but also aids in abduction and external rotation.
The gluteus medius is smaller than the maximas, but bigger than the minimus. It sits under, and above the gluteus maximas. The role of the medius is primarily hip abduction, but it will also aid in external rotation.
The smallest of the 3 is the gluteus minimus. Working alongside the other 2 larger muscles, the minimus helps with abduction and external rotation.
To build a heart shaped ass, we need to be focusing on the following things.
As this is the largest of the 3 gluteus muscles, it makes sense we spend the most time training it. It’s the muscle that has the most room for growth and adding some size to it will transform the look of the bum.
As you know, the gluteus medius is at the top corners of the bum. If we can add some size here, we can create a more rounded look to the rear. As the medius is at the top of the bum, if we can add some in this area it will create the illusion of a smaller waist, therefore creating the heart shaped look.
If you’re not up to speed with the term progressive overload, we recommend reading ‘The foundation to building muscle’.
Essentially progressive overload is the key training principle when it comes to muscle building.
It involves increasing the training stimulus over time so that the body has to continually adapt to keep up with the increasing demands being placed upon it (Ie. muscles getting bigger).
There are many different ways to implement progressive overload including:
The most popular method is to increase the weights we’re working with.
If we can continually progress over time, then we’re going to be building muscle.
Unfortunately, there’s not one answer when it comes to nutrition for building the bum, like a lot of things, it depends.
It depends on our current body fat percentage, as there’s no point in eating a larger than normal muscle-building diet if we have a high body fat percentage.
The reason being is that when eating a bulking diet (muscle-building diet), it’s inevitable that we’re going to add some body fat. If we add more body fat, the extra body fat on top of our already high percentage of body fat will result in our muscles looking wobbly and flat, rather than the toned, strong look we’re going for.
So, if our body fat % is currently high, a better approach would be to lose fat before we start our muscle building phase.
To lose body fat check out the following articles (we mentioned them earlier too):
Once we’ve got to reasonable levels of body fat, we can then begin our muscle building phase.
To build muscle, we need to be eating more calories than we burn daily (calorie surplus). This gives the body the energy it needs for the muscle building process.
It’s recommended that we consume around 200-400 calories more than we burn daily to build muscle. This should yield a weekly gain of roughly 0.25kg of muscle.
For a complete guide on how to work out how many calories you should be eating when building muscle check out ‘How many calories do I need when bulking’. This article will help you work out you’re starting point and advise you on how to split your calories between proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
It’s time to look at the exercises we need to incorporate into our routine for maximum glute growth.
The main role of the gluteus maximas (largest glute muscle) is hip extension. This is where you move your leg backward so that the angle between the thigh and the pelvis increases.
The hip thrust does that very movement – and under a load too. It’s therefore obvious why it’s such a great exercise at activating the gluteus maximas.
If you’re not comfortable with putting the loaded bar over your pelvis, check our next best hip thrust alternatives. And if you're new to the exercise it may be worth building up your strength with the Dumbbell hip thrust.
If you sometimes struggle getting to the gym, then why not train the glutes from the comfort from your own home. Check out our favourite machines to build the glutes without leaving the house:
Known as one of the big 5, not only is the squat a great leg builder, but it’s also a great glute builder.
Utilising some clever form tweaks such as opting for a wider stance and pointing the toes outwards can also help activate the glutes further.
Additionally, research has shown that gluteus activation was higher in partial squats compared to full squats. So, if you were on the fence as to how far low you should go, this should help solidify your decision .
Maybe not an exercise that you would immediately think of when it comes to glute training, but it’s not to be ignored. In fact, a systematic review conducted in 2020 found that the step-up exercise elicited the highest gluteus activation out of any exercise, check the results below .
If the step-up exercise is not already in your routine, it’s time to add them in!
The deadlift is a great total body exercise and is a true test of strength. Lifting a heavy barbell off the ground and putting it back down again targets muscles from the traps down to the calves.
If you’re unsure as to what variation you should be doing, maybe a few research studies can help sway your decision.
A 2018 study looked compared the gluteus maximas activation between the conventional deadlift and the Romanian deadlift. They found that the gluteus maximas activation when performing the conventional deadlift was significantly higher than the Romanian deadlift .
A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise found no difference in gluteus activation between the conventional deadlift and sumo deadlift. So, if you’ve heard people argue regarding which one is better when it comes to glute activation, they’re both great.
Lunges are another great exercise for maximising glute development. The fact that they’re a unilateral exercise also helps to build stabilising muscles and help iron out any muscle imbalances.
You can perform traditional lunges (going forwards) or reverse lunges (you guessed it, going backwards). Both are ideal for gluteus recruitment.
One thing to remember, to maximise glute involvement during this exercise, remember to push off the ground through your heel – this will keep the tension on the glutes and reduce the chances of any unwanted injuries.
The leg press is awesome, it allows you to stack on weight you’d never dream of lifting anywhere else in the gym, and press it with such conviction. It’s a brilliant exercise, one that we should be able to progress with easily as we don’t need to worry about stabilising the weight like the other free weight exercise.
The best way to use the leg press for the glutes is by keeping the feet high and wide on the platform and pointing the toes outwards.
The previous exercises have all been geared towards targeting the gluteus maximas. It’s time to look at some exercises that will target the gluteus medius to help us build the upper glute shelf.
As we touched on earlier, the role of the gluteus medius is hip abduction. Well, that’s exactly what this machine does – therefore you can’t really get a better exercise that targets the gluteus medius.
If you’ve got one in your gym, use it. If not, you can replicate the movement by using resistance bands.
Either sit on the floor or lie on your side, the movement is basically the same – just pick the one you’re most comfortable with.
Not only does the curtsy lunge help engage the gluteus medius, but it’s also a compound exercise that targets the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. This complete lower body exercise is ideal if you’re training glutes and legs together as it’s a 2 bird one stone type scenario.
Finishing off with another exercise that primarily targets the gluteus medius. It’s the same movement pattern as the hip abduction, but this time we’re performing the movement on the ground and with a resistance band.
A resistance band offers a unique resistance curve, one that we can’t really benefit from with other exercises. As you go through the exercise it becomes increasingly more difficult as the band becomes stretched. This helps to work the glutes in the shortened position and allows us to squeeze hard at the end of the movement.
If you don't already have any resistance bands, we highly recommend the following:
Due to many leg exercises also targeting the glutes, its makes sense that we train our legs and glutes in the same workout. We have therefore included 2 different workouts for you to add to your weekly routines.
We recommend performing both workouts each week. Focus on the upper body on other training days and leave enough days between each workout for sufficient recovery.
Even if you’re not blessed with the perfect genetics, or born with the ideal pelvis shape, building heart shaped glutes is still achievable, it’s just, unfortunately, more difficult than those who are blessed. Even so, with a solid training plan, utilising the most beneficial exercises and good nutrition, we can build the rear we’ve been dreaming of.
As always, drop a message in the comments to let us know how you get on, or if you have any questions – enjoy!
 da Silva, J. J., Schoenfeld, B. J., Marchetti, P. N., Pecoraro, S. L., Greve, J., & Marchetti, P. H. (2017). Muscle Activation Differs Between Partial and Full Back Squat Exercise With External Load Equated. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 31(6), 1688–1693. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000001713
 Neto, W. K., Soares, E. G., Vieira, T. L., Aguiar, R., Chola, T. A., Sampaio, V. L., & Gama, E. F. (2020). Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. Journal of sports science & medicine, 19(1), 195–203.
 Lee, S., Schultz, J., Timgren, J., Staelgraeve, K., Miller, M., & Liu, Y. (2018). An electromyographic and kinetic comparison of conventional and Romanian deadlifts. Journal of exercise science and fitness, 16(3), 87–93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesf.2018.08.001
 Escamilla, R. F., Francisco, A. C., Fleisig, G. S., Barrentine, S. W., Welch, C. M., Kayes, A. V., Speer, K. P., & Andrews, J. R. (2000). A three-dimensional biomechanical analysis of sumo and conventional style deadlifts. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 32(7), 1265–1275. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200007000-00013