Having a covetable butt might be enough motivation to get your rear in gear and start moving. But a toned behind is hardly the only reason you should be doing squats, bridges, and other booty-boosting moves.
“Glutes are the powerhouse in our posterior chain, aka, the backside of your body, and generate maximum efficiency and power during workouts,” says personal trainer Aaron de Jong. And along with making your workouts better, a strong butt helps make your daily life feel a little easier and more comfortable. You're also more likely to avoid injury and have less lower back pain with rock-solid glutes.
“Your glutes are technically part of your core and help with all your everyday activities: walking, going up stairs, getting up, sitting down,” says personal trainer Mike Donavanik.
The best way to work your rear is to approach it with different moves that challenge all butt muscles from different angles. We all know the gluteus maximus - the largest muscle in your butt - but the butt is actually made up of more muscles, like the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, that can be targeted differently.
These butt exercises will strengthen every square inch of your rear from side to side, front to back, and in rotation. Weighted moves, like single-leg deadlifts, will add muscle while bodyweight exercises, like bird dogs, strengthen smaller stabilising muscles. Aim to do three to five sets of each exercise, with 12 to 20 reps for each bodyweight or resistance band exercise, and eight to 12 reps for moves with weights.
Single-leg glute bridge
How to: Lie on an exercise mat faceup with your knees bent and feet flat on floor. Extend right leg up so your foot is pointing toward the ceiling. Exhale and push down through your left heel to push your hips up, then slowly lower to start. Do all reps, then repeat on opposite side.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Extend one foot straight back behind you as you lean forward until your body is parallel to the floor, extending your arms toward the floor. Return to start. Do all reps, then repeat on opposite side.
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding either a kettlebell with both hands in front of your chest or one small dumbbell in each hand at your side. Inhale as you step right foot back and lower until left thigh is parallel to the floor. Pause, then exhale as you push up to return to start. Repeat on opposite side to complete 1 rep. Continue, alternating sides.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell or weighted ball with both hands in front of your chest. Lower, bending the knees, until your hips are below the knees. Then push back up to the starting position. Make sure to straighten your legs completely and squeeze the glutes at the top for the most toning action.
How to: Stand in a lunge position and drop your back knee to the floor. Jump up, switch your feet, and repeat, alternating your feet forward and back.
How to: Get on all fours on an exercise mat. Looking at the floor with your neck in a neutral position, extend your right leg behind you and left arm in front of you (both should be parallel to floor). Exhale and bring your left elbow and right knee together to touch under your belly. Do all reps, then repeat on opposite side.
How to: Get on all fours on an exercise mat. Raise your right knee to the side, then draw a circle with the knee and return to start. Do all reps, then repeat on opposite side.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell or weighted ball with both hands in front of your chest. Take a big step to the right and lower your weight into your right heel, keeping your left leg straight and your spine long. Exhale to push back up to start. Do all reps, then repeat on opposite side.
Banded hip thrust
How to: Sit on the floor in front of a padded bench and place a small resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees. Lean your upper back against the bench, bend your knees and place your feet flat on floor. Pushing into your heels, lift your butt off the floor slightly. Then push your hips up toward the ceiling so your torso and thighs are parallel to the floor. Lower and repeat.
How to: Place a small resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees. Lie faceup with your knees bent, feet flat on floor near your rear. Pressing your heels into the floor, push your hips up toward the ceiling. Slowly lower and repeat.
How to: Place a small resistance band around your thighs. Lie on your left side with your legs stacked directly on top of each other and your knees bent. Rotate your right leg up, then slowly lower. Repeat all reps, then switch to the opposite side.
How to: Get on all fours on an exercise mat and wrap a long resistance band around your right sole, holding the ends of the band in each hand. Extend your right leg behind you and up on a diagonal. Return to the starting position and repeat for all reps, then switch to the opposite side.
First published: 26 Feb 2019