You may not be aware of this, but having a bigger and stronger butt will:
I could go on but I think you get the point. A strong butt is good for you!
Now that I have just given you an excuse for a yearlong beach training program, you should learn a couple of things about your butt muscles. Mainly your glutes.
|Table of Contents|
|Anatomy of the Butt|
|10 Best butt exercises|
|Workouts for a bigger butt|
|Tips for building a bigger butt|
|Frequently asked questions|
Let’s all give a cheeky hello to your butt muscles, the glutes.
The glutes consist of three muscle groups:
Anatomists are thankfully very lazy people, they don’t think too much about what they name muscles. With that said, it should be fairly obvious that the gluteus maximus is the strongest of the gluteal muscles. It mainly extends your hips, think of the bottom of the squat, or rather getting out of it.
The gluteus medius and minimus are located on the sides of the hip. These two muscle groups act as stabilizers for any side to side movements of the hip. Weakness in these muscle groups can wreak havoc on your knees.
It is imperative that you train and strengthen all of your gluteal muscles. Especially if you want to grow a bigger butt.
There are TONS of articles out there giving you a giant laundry list of different glute exercises and then sending you on your merry way.
But most of these articles are just cookie-cutter fluff content. This article is different. All of these exercises have been battle-tested by experienced strength coaches, such as myself, for years.
The hip thrust was made famous by Bret Contreras, aka “The Glute Guy”. Bret has earned a Ph.D. in Kinesiology and his doctoral dissertation was on how to best train your glutes.
He studied multiple exercises and in his conclusion, he found that the barbell hip thrust was the most effective of them all. This is why it is first on our list.
To perform, simply lie down face up on the ground and roll a barbell over your lap. Then bend your knees, squeeze your glutes and push through your heels until your hips go up as high as possible.
It is very important that you bring your hips up as high as you possibly can. Preferably above your shoulders and fully locked out.
Bret’s research showed that the hips need to be locked out at the top, or even past lockout, for the best glute targeting.
Try doing several sets of 10-15 reps and your buns will be smoking. Please prepare accordingly and if you're new to the exercise it might be worth considering starting out with the dumbbell hip thrust. Once you've built up the technique, move onto the barbell or machine variant.
Working out from home? No worries - we've got you covered! Check out the best home gym glute machines:
Although squats may not be as effective as hip thrusts, they are still very valuable. Not just for building a bigger and nicer booty, but also for function.
You don’t want to be all show and no go. Otherwise, you’ll be writing a check with your mouth that you cannot cash with your ass. Words of wisdom.
Squats will build plenty of size and strength to your butt. But you have to make sure you do them correctly, otherwise, you will not hit your glutes.
To train the squat correctly, you want to make sure you are going down below parallel. This means that your hips are below your knees.
EMG studies have confirmed that you need to squat at least to parallel for your glutes to fire properly.
Another thing you want to do is squeeze your glutes as hard as you can before you start to drop down into the squat. If you forget to do this, it will make it much harder to fire them in the bottom position because your psoas will be so overactive.
Combining these two tips will build a sculptured rear end that Michelangelo would be proud of.
Lunges are one of the most underrated exercises out there. Especially for building huge glutes.
Most of my clients have made their best gains from doing lunges. Since you are training on one leg, you are getting more stress placed on one leg and getting massive athletic benefits. Talk about more bang for your buck.
To protect the knees, we recommend opting for the reverse lunge variation.
To perform, grab a barbell or a pair of dumbbells and take a big step backward so that your front leg is 90 degrees to the floor. Then push off the front leg and return to the starting position.
A couple of things to keep in mind though.
You want to keep your spine neutral the whole time. Don’t flex, or hyper-extend, your back. If the back starts to flex, you will be taking the stress off of your legs and dumping it onto your lower back. That’s not going to grow a big butt.
Also, you want to make sure you are pushing off the ground through your heel. This will ensure maximal glute activation. The mistake most people make with lunges is pushing off the toes. This is the sure-fire way to get a knee injury. Stick with your heels and thank me later.
It's your up for the challenge, you can upgrade the exercise to the deficit reverse lunge. This involves placing a platform under your front foot which allows a greater range of motion for the glutes. More range, better growth!
The glute-ham developer, also called the GHD, is a powerhouse exercise for your glutes and hamstrings. After all, the name practically gives it away.
To perform, get into the machine and place your thighs on the pad. Lower yourself down as low as you can go and then push your heels into the pad bring yourself back up to the starting position.
It is very important not to pike your hips. What does this mean?
It means not to fold your hips in any way on the way up. If you do, you will be taking tension off of your glutes and dumping it all on the hamstrings.
If you notice this happening frequently, move the pad back behind you more so your knees are further away from the pad. This will make the exercise easier.
If your knees are closer to the pad, then the exercise will be MUCH harder. The reason: you will have less mechanical leverage over the exercise, so your muscles will be working tremendously harder to complete the same range of motion.
But if you stick to good form, you will have a booty that not only looks good but works well too.
(Image retrieved from Spring Hill Fitness)
Reverse hyperextensions were made famous by the legendary strength coach Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio.
Louie himself fractured one of his vertebrae in his lower back and he was out of commission for a while. Desperate to get back to lifting weights, Louie discovered an exercise that trains the entire backside of the body, including the glutes, lower back, and hamstrings WITHOUT using the psoas muscle.
This is a key point because there are not too many exercises that train the glutes without the psoas. With this key discovery, you can still train your glutes with heavy weights without worrying about hurting your lower back.
To perform, simply get into the machine and get the strap around your ankles, your legs should be hanging straight down. This is the starting position.
From this position, squeeze your glutes and shoot your legs back and up as hard as you can. When you reach maximum height, relax your glutes and let gravity pull the pendulum back down. Once it comes back down, immediately squeeze your glutes again and perform another rep.
This is a ballistic exercise, so the only two reps that include dead starts/stops are the first and lost reps, respectively.
The swinging may look dangerous, but it is extremely safe and it helps to rehabilitate any lower back issues you may have. So it is a hidden gem in the sea of chrome machines.
For this exercise, higher reps work best, so aim for 20-30 per set.
Come on, admit it! You love the leg press!
All of us do. It is such a fun exercise. And it makes you feel so proud of yourself because you can push a heavy sled that weighs as much as a baby pilot whale.
All joking aside, the leg press is a fantastic way to train your glutes. It all has to do with foot placement.
You see, most gym-goers place their feet in the middle of the pad. There is nothing wrong with this, but this position works the quads more than it does the glutes.
To hit the glutes, move your feet up higher on the pad so your toes are flush with the top of the pad. This will directly hit your glutes.
Just make sure that your butt stays down and doesn’t come off the bench.
Sometimes one leg is stronger, or weaker than the other. These are muscle imbalances and they can be a real pain in the butt. No pun intended!
It is the bane of a physique model’s existence to have one area of their body smaller than the other. Likewise, you do not want to have one butt cheek bigger/stronger than the other. You want to keep them symmetrical, and cable glute exercises can help with that.
To perform, simply find a cable machine with an ankle cuff. Then stand facing the weight plates and lift your leg straight behind you. It sounds simple but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
When you are performing this exercise, make sure you keep your leg as straight as possible and try not to twist your hips. You want to keep your lower back out of this exercise as much as possible.
Also, make sure you are not just going through the motions. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can when your leg is in full extension.
Squeezing the muscle allows for a harder contraction which allows for more growth.
Like the squat, the deadlift is a powerhouse of an exercise. The deadlift works over 300 muscle groups and it teaches you how to pick up heavy objects safely. A truly valuable exercise.
Of all the muscle groups the deadlift works, the hips are the most prominent. Especially the glutes and the hamstrings.
Now to be fair, EMG studies show that the deadlift works the hamstrings slightly more than the squat. So you will have to concentrate a little more to get your glutes firing.
How do you do that? Simple.
You just squeeze them as hard as you can before you pull the bar from the floor. As unpleasant as this sounds, think about pinching a quarter between your butt cheeks as hard as you can right before you begin the lift.
Then keep your back completely flat and drive through the center of your foot and lock the bar out at the hips. Don’t slack off at the top either. Keep squeezing to lockout.
You can always tell if someone doesn’t know how to use their glutes in a deadlift because their lower back will be hyper-extended at the top and their knees will be bent.
To target the glutes, even more, try the sumo deadlift. With a wider stance, you will get more glutes with less hamstrings. Or better still, try the Romanian Deadlift, it's heavy on the hamstrings and glutes and works as a great supplementary exercise for the deadlift.
Banded side walks switches our focus to the gluteus medius. Recall that these are the glute muscles on the outside of the hips. They mainly focus on stabilizing the pelvis during lateral movements.
So why would you need to train them?
Well, for starters, there is always an aesthetic reason. But aside from that, training the gluteus medius will make you stronger in your lower body lifts. Plus, it will keep you safe and help prevent lower back and knee pain.
Side walks are best performed during your warm-ups, but they can also be done as a workout themselves.
Simply place a band above your knees and bend your knees slightly while pushing your hips back. Hold this position and then take small side steps while keeping constant tension on the band.
Typically 10-20 yard walks down and back will do the trick.
For this exercise, you will need a band of some kind to use. There are many different types, but I recommend using the popular amazon fabric resistant bands.
They're made out of cloth, so they will not roll up on you or pinch your skin. Plus, they have rubber grooves on the inside to prevent the band from sliding. Very convenient to wear with baggy clothing and for preventing movement from sweat.
Finally, we have a secret exercise that I only share with some of my best clients, the belt squat.
(Image retrieved from GymLeco)
Belt squats involve squatting heavy weight without using a barbell. Instead, you wear a hip belt and attach weight onto the belt.
Then you simply squat down as low as you can go and then come back up to the standing position.
The best part of this exercise is how easy it is on your lower back. Since you are not putting a heavy barbell onto your lower back, you have little to no spinal compression. So this is perfect for people with back problems.
Not only will your glutes get a great workout, but your regular squat will get a massive boost in strength as well. Which if you are into fitness — and if you are reading this article you should be — then you always want to be working on your squat. It is called the king of all exercises for a reason.
You can buy a hip belt specifically designed for squats on Amazon, but they can cost you, so in that case, you can just use a dip belt and some step boxes at your local gym. Either way, your booty will enjoy it!
Now we know the best exercises to target the glutes, let’s put them into a workout. With several glute exercises also targeting the glutes, it makes sense to combine legs and glutes and train them together in one session. We have therefore designed 2 glute and leg workouts:
To grow any muscle, you need to ensure your supplying the body with enough fuel to grow. This involves being in a calorie surplus. If you’re not familiar with the term, it means to be eating more than the body burns daily.
Say the body burns 2000 calories daily, to grow muscles, you need to be eating between 200-400 calories more every day, meaning you should be eating 2200-2400 calories daily.
We have covered eating for muscle growth in our article ‘How many calories do I need when bulking?’ but as a rule of thumb we can follow the below guidelines.
To maximise protein synthesis, studies have shown that we need to be eating 1.8-2.2grams of protein per KG of bodyweight.
It’s recommended that we get around 20% of your daily calories from fats. Multiply your calorie target by 0.2 to reveal how many calories we need from fats. Then divide by 9 (as there are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat).
We then see how many calories we’re left with, divide by 4 (as there are 4 calories in 1 gram of carbohydrates) and this is how many grams of carbohydrates we should be eating. It’s usually around the 50% mark.
To grow any muscle, we need to be applying a training principle called progressive overload. This is where we continually increase the stimulus placed upon the muscle to force it to continually adapt (grow) to keep up with demands. If we didn’t increase the stimulus, the body has no reason to adapt and therefore stays the same as it was before.
We can apply progressive overload in several different ways such as: increasing weights, increasing sets, increasing reps, reducing rest times, etc.
Arguably the easiest way to apply progressive overload is to increase the weights we use. It’s easier to manage and getting stronger also has a strong correlation with getting bigger.
Supplements, as the name suggests, are there to supplement a decent diet. You can build muscle without supplements if you’re getting enough (and the right amount of) nutrients through the foods you consume.
Easier said than done mind you. We all lead busy lives and sometimes we don’t have the time to eat the perfect diet.
Supplements are a convenient way to get nutrients into the body. At work for example, we may not have time to snack on a chicken breast to try and hit our daily protein target, but we could easily drink a whey protein shake that can provide us with a good 30grams of protein.
Our recent article on muscle building supplements can help shed some light on whether supplements are right for you.
Our glutes don’t grow when we’re training them, they grow when we’re recovering from training them. It is therefore important that we don’t train them too often such that we’re not allowing enough time for them to recover and grow.
When it comes to deciding how often we should train the glutes we need to consider factors such as workout intensity, training volume, exercise selection and training age.
As guideline, if our glute sessions are above average intensity, comprising compound exercises such as squats, hip thrusts, deadlifts, etc, then we should work them between 1-2 times a week.
Building muscle doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. For newbie lifters, you’ll probably be able to notice gains after 4 weeks providing you’re following a well structured training program and you’re supplying the body with the fuel it needs to grow. For those intermediate or advanced lifters, it will take longer to notice any growth. Around the 6-8 week mark we should be able to notice some size gains.
You don’t need to go to the gym to grow the glutes, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
It’s important to remember the most important muscle building training principle though, Progressive overload. We need to increase the stimulus placed upon the muscle each week to force it to adapt and grow. This is easily done at the gym as we can simply work with bigger weights, but if we’re working from home we may need to be creative to come up with new ways to increase the stimulus as it’s unlikely we have the additional weights like they do in the gym.
If we don’t have any additional weights to use, we can utilise the progressive methods mentioned earlier. When performing bodyweight exercises, we can increase the sets, reps, and reduce the rest times. We can also introduce supersets and giant sets to further increase the demand put on the glutes.
If you’ve mastered the bodyweight exercises, there’s always the option to purchase a home squat rack. This will mean you can swap in the bodyweight exercises for weighted exercises, thus applying progressive overload (increasing the load) and forcing the muscles into new growth.
Our recent article ‘The cheapest home gym squat racks’ reveal a variety of affordable squat racks that are perfect for any home gym setup.
Research has shown that 10-20 sets should be done per muscle each week to build muscle. Newbie lifters can build muscle at the lower end of the guidelines while experienced lifters should stick towards the upper limit.
In terms of reps, we would suggest sticking between 6-20 reps per exercise to maximise the glute development.
Congratulations! You made it to the end of the article. You now know my 10 best booty exercises.
That’s all there is to it. Now get out there and take some action!
That booty isn’t going to grow itself!
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 Andersen et al., (2018): Electromyographic Comparison of Barbell Deadlift, Hex Bar Deadlift, and Hip Thrust Exercises: A Cross-Over Study. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: March 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - p 587–593