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The Best Butt Exercises for Building Head-Turning Glutes

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If you want to learn how to build a gravity defying…perfectly padded…downright showstopping butt…then you want to read this article.

 

Sir Mix-a-Lot was right. Awesome butts are awesome.

In fact, let’s just start this article off right…

Alright, now that we’re in the right frame of mind, let’s talk butt building, starting with some myth busting.

You can’t carve godlike glutes with “spot reduction” cardio.

There’s a reason why so many people on the quest for the ultimate “Brazilian butt” slave away on cardio machines like the Stepmill or incline treadmill.

They’re trying to preferentially reduce the fat in the area by doing cardio that “targets” the glutes. And while it might seem reasonable that burning your butt out for an hour of climbing or walking would help “carve it up,” it doesn’t. Targeted fat loss is a myth.

While research has shown that training a muscle results in increased levels of blood flow and lipolysis in the area (the breakdown of fat cells into usable energy), it’s not in a large enough quantity to matter.

The reality is training the muscles of a certain area of your body burns calories and can result in muscle growth, both of which certainly can aid in fat loss, but it doesn’t directly burn the fat covering them to any significant degree.

You see, fat loss occurs in a whole-body fashion. You create the proper internal weight loss environment (a calorie deficit) and your body reduces fat stores all over the body, with certain areas reducing faster than others (more on why in a moment).

You can do all the crunches you want–you’ll never have a six pack until you’ve adequately reduced your overall body fat percentage, and that’s more a function of proper dieting than anything else.

The bottom line is carving godlike glutes requires more or less the same steps as any other body part: use proper training principles to build the muscles and use a proper dieting regimen to reduce your body fat percentage, and voila, you now have a killer butt.

You don’t need to do a bunch of fancy exercises to get the butt you want.

“Muscle confusion” is a staple of broscience that marketers just won’t let die. As long as it keeps selling, we’ll keep hearing about it.

The truth, however, is constantly changing up your workout routine offers little benefit. In fact, it’s probably more harmful than helpful.

This applies to all weightlifting exercises, including “butt builders.”

First, you should know that the gluteus maximus is one muscle. There’s no such thing as “upper” or “lower” regions or “glute-ham tie-in muscles” or anything else, and thus, exercises advice that purportedly “targets” these areas is bunk.

Second, the overall sculpted look you’re after requires well-built glutes and hamstrings, so a proper butt training routine should emphasize both of these muscle groups.

Now, what exercises are best for developing the glutes and hamstrings? Well, the list isn’t as long as you might think and, as you’ll soon see, it’s mainly comprised of staples like the squat, deadlift, hip thrust, and lunge.

Sprints aren’t as great for building a butt as many people think.

Sprinters generally have great asses and thus many people assume that sprinting is the answer…and they’re (mostly) wrong.

Yes, sprinting heavily involves the glutes and, in this way, does train them. But, like other forms of cardio, it doesn’t preferentially reduce fat in the backside.

Sprinting also has a serious downside: it’s extremely high-intensity, which increases the risk of injury and overtraining. I’m a big fan of high-intensity interval training, but there are just better (and safer) ways to train the glutes.

Furthermore, don’t forget that sprinters also lift weights, which is why they often have such impressively muscular physiques. Sprinting alone doesn’t deliver results like that (check out the bodies of sprinters from a few decades ago, before track & field really caught on).

The Only Butt Exercises You’ll Ever Need

best-butt-exercises

Most butt-building programs rely mainly on exercises that have you hinge at the hips like squats and deadlifts.

This is a good start. These types of exercises force your muscles to do a lot of work against gravity through full ranges of motion. We’ll be talking about them in this article.

If you really want to maximize your booty development however, you’ll want to load your glutes and hamstrings in a couple other ways as well.

Before we get to the “fancy” movements, though, let’s start with the foundation of butt builders.

The Squat

There’s a reason why people with great physiques are always banging on about the importance of squatting regularly. It’s just the single most effective movement for building total lower body strength and muscularity.

If you want great legs and a great ass, you want to take your squatting seriously.

There’s quite a bit that goes into a proper squat (this article will teach you what you need to know about proper form), but here are two key points that relate to butt building:

Squat deep.

The deeper you squat, the more work your legs and butt have to do. I recommend either full squats or parallel squats, but not half squats. Here’s a good example of proper depth:

butt-exercises

Use a wider stance.

Research shows that, when squatting with relatively heavy weights, a wide stance increases the amount of activation in the quadriceps and glutes.

Practically speaking, this means adopting stance that is about 125 to 150% of shoulder-width. Here’s a visual:

best-butt-exercise

The Deadlift

If I could only do one exercise every week it would be the deadlift. It trains everything in your body but your pressing muscles and builds a tremendous amount of whole body strength and power.

It’s particularly good for our purposes here because it heavily involves both the hamstrings and glutes. It also lends itself particularly well to heavy lifting, which is crucial for building muscle as efficiently as possible.

Like the squat, the deadlift is a fairly technical lift that takes some practice to master. Click here to learn proper form.

And in case you’re wondering, research shows that conventional and sumo deadlifts are about equally effective for training the glutes so you can’t go wrong either way.

I prefer conventional deadlifting because of the increased range of motion (requiring more work to stand the weight up) but some people like to alternate between them and I don’t see anything wrong with that.

A key point worth calling out before we move on is the importance of full glute activation while deadlifting.

You should be squeezing your glutes as you lift the bar off the ground and should feel them especially involved in the upper half of the ascension and lockout.

This image shows both proper and improper lockout positions, which result in full and partial glute activation:

butt-exercise

On the far left you can see the most common lockout mistake people make: the over-extension. This increases the risk of lumbar injury and reduces the amount of glute activation.

Moving right we see a good upright position at lockout but an over-zealous “chest out and shoulders back” position. Another common mistake.

Next on the mistakes is the shrugging lockout, which is also a mistake.

Last we see a proper lockout: upright position, no lumbar extension, no overdone chest expansion, and no shrugging. This is how you want to finish your deadlift.

The Hip Thrust

If you’ve never done a hip thrust, meet your new best friend.

It’s awkward and embarrassing at first but it’s also the ultimate “secret weapon” for butt building that you’ll find it just about every fitness competitor’s routine.

There are tons of variations of hip thrusts that you can do but the barbell, band, and single-leg variations are what you want to focus on.

Here’s how to do the barbell hip thrust:

And here’s how to do the band variation:

And last but not least, the single-leg hip thrust:

Want a workout program and flexible diet plan that will help you build the ultimate butt? Download my free no-BS “crash course” now and learn exactly how to build the body of your dreams.

The Lunge

By now you’re probably not surprised to see another basic movement in the list.

Although the lunge isn’t normally thought of as an effective butt exercise, research shows the glutes are very involved with pulling you back to a standing position.

Here’s the traditional forward lunge:

If you can’t do that due to knee issues, try a reverse lunge instead:

While I personally prefer barbell lunges, dumbbell lunges work well too:

The Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is a deadlift variation that particularly targets the hamstrings, making it a worthy addition to a glute routine. (Remember the backside most people want requires both glute and hamstring development.)

Here’s how to do it:

The Bulgarian Split Squat

Next on our short list of the best butt exercises is another type of squat: the Bulgarian split squat.

This lunge-like movement is very effective for targeting the quads and glutes and here’s how it works:

The Glute Blaster

Most workout machines suck. They’re not as safe as many people think and you’ll get more out of free weight movements.

That said, the “Butt Blaster” is a good piece of equipment. It allows you to safely perform a glute-targeted movement that can’t be easily replicated with free weights.

Here it is:

Building the Ultimate Butt Workout

Now that we’ve gone over each of the best exercises for building your butt, let’s talk about how to build them into an effective workout routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First, a couple of guidelines.

I’ve found that, like the calves, the glutes respond best to a higher frequency of training and a variety of weight loads (rep ranges).

Thus, I recommend that you train your glutes 2 to 3 times per week and that you do some of your work in the 4 to 6 rep range (80 to 85% of your 1RM), some in the 8 to 10 rep range (70 to 75% of your 1RM), and some in the 15 to 20 rep range (50 to 55% of your 1RM).

Progression with your weights is key.

When you’re working in a given rep range and hit the top of it, it’s time to add weight (5 pounds if it’s a dumbbell exercise and 10 pounds for barbell). You then work with that new weight until you hit the top of the rep range with it and move up again.

For example, if you’re doing a 4 to 6 rep set of squats and get 6, you move up to 145 for your next sets and should get 4 reps. That’s now your starting weight for your next workout and you work with it until you’re getting 6 reps, move up, and so forth.

The corollary to this is if you can’t do at least as many reps as the bottom of the range, the weight is too heavy and you need to reduce it.

For example, if you’re feeling frisky and load up 155 pounds for your next week’s squat and only get 2 reps, it’s time to drop back to 145 and work your way up to 155 as outlined above.

Sometimes you’ll hit the top of your rep range, move up in weight, and fail to get your minimum reps in the range. For instance, you squat 135 for 6, add 10 pounds to the bar, and then get 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this happens, you have three options:

  1. You can reduce the increase in weight (take 5 pounds off the bar).
  2. You can stick with the new weight for the workout and see if you can hit the minimum reps in the next workout.
  3. You can train with the lighter weight you just moved up from until you can get an additional 2 reps with it and then move up. (Stick with the above example, until you can squat 135 for 8.)

Personally I prefer them in the order give: I do #1 before #2 and leave #3 as a last resort.

Now, when building any type of workout, proper programming is key. Most people tend to create routines that call for too much work in the gym and that lead to overtraining.

If you want to dive deep into the theory of building a workout routine, click here.

For the sake of keeping things simple in this article, however, I’m going to just give you a couple butt workouts that you can get going on immediately.

2 x Per Week Butt Workout Routine

This routine is perfect for people that are short on time or also need to spend 2 to 3 days per week working on their upper bodies.

I recommend you separate these workouts by 2 days.

Workout A

Squat

Warm up and then 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Rest 3 minutes in between these sets.

Hip Thrust

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Rest 2 minutes in between these sets.

Bulgarian Split Squat

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Rest 2 minutes in between these sets.

Romanian Deadlift

3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Rest 1 minute in between these sets.

Workout B

Deadlift

Warm up and 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Rest 3 minutes in between these sets.

Barbell Lunge

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Rest 2 minutes in between these sets.

Hip Thrust

3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Rest 2 minutes in between these sets.

Butt Blaster

3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Rest 1 minute in between these sets.

3 x Per Week Butt Workout Routine

This routine is ideal for people that want to maximize lower body development with an emphasis on the glutes. Upper body work can be done in between these workouts.

I recommend you separate these workouts by 1  day.

Workout A

Squat

Warm up and then 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Rest 3 minutes in between these sets.

Hip Thrust

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Rest 2 minutes in between these sets.

Romanian Deadlift

3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Rest 1 minute in between these sets.

Workout B

Deadlift

Warm up and 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Rest 3 minutes in between these sets.

Barbell Lunge

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Rest 2 minutes in between these sets.

Hip Thrust

3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Rest 1 minute in between these sets.

Workout C

Hip Thrust

Warm up and 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Rest 3 minutes in between these sets.

Bulgarian Split Squat

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Rest 2 minutes in between these sets.

Butt Blaster

3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

Rest 1 minute in between these sets.

Pick a routine, work hard at it, eat right, and it won’t be long before you start seeing changes in your booty. (Start tape measuring your behind to know for sure!)

What About Supplements?

strong woman is drinking sports nutrition

I saved this for last because, quite frankly, it’s far less important than proper diet and training.

You see, supplements don’t build great physiques–dedication to proper training and nutrition does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the workout supplement industry is plagued by pseudoscience, ridiculous hype, misleading advertising and endorsements, products full of junk ingredients, underdosing key ingredients, and many other shenanigans.

Most supplement companies produce cheap, junk products and try to dazzle you with ridiculous marketing claims, high-profile (and very expensive) endorsements, pseudo-scientific babble, fancy-sounding proprietary blends, and flashy packaging.

So, while workout supplements don’t play a vital role in building muscle and losing fat, and many are a complete waste of money…the right ones can help.

The truth of the matter is there are safe, natural substances that have been scientifically proven to deliver benefits such as increased strength, muscle endurance and growth, fat loss, and more.

As a part of my work, it’s been my job to know what these substances are, and find products with them that I can use myself and recommend to others.

Finding high-quality, effective, and fairly priced products has always been a struggle, though.

That’s why I took matters into my own hands and decided to create my own supplements. And not just another line of “me too” supplements–the exact formulations I myself have always wanted and wished others would create.

I won’t go into a whole spiel here though. If you want to learn more about my supplement line, check this out.

For the purpose of this article, let’s just quickly review the supplements that are going to help you get the most out of your butt (and other) workouts.

Creatine

Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body and in foods like red meat. It’s perhaps the most researched molecule in the world of sport supplements–the subject of hundreds of studies–and the consensus is very clear:

Supplementation with creatine helps…

You may have heard that creatine is bad for your kidneys, but these claims have been categorically and repeatedly disproven. In healthy subjects, creatine has been shown to have no harmful side effects, in both short- or long-term usage. People with kidney disease are not advised to supplement with creatine, however.

If you have healthy kidneys, I highly recommend that you supplement with creatine. It’s safe, cheap, and effective.

In terms of specific products, I use my own, of course, which is called RECHARGE.

creatine-supplement


RECHARGE is 100% naturally sweetened and flavored and each serving contains:

  • 5 grams of creatine monohydrate
  • 2100 milligrams of L-carnitine L-tartrate
  • 10.8 milligrams of corosolic acid

This gives you the proven strength, size, and recovery benefits of creatine monohydrate plus the muscle repair and insulin sensitivity benefits of L-carnitine L-tartrate and corosolic acid.

Protein Powder

You don’t need protein supplements to gain muscle, but, considering how much protein you need to eat every day to maximize muscle growth, getting all your protein from whole food can be impractical.

That’s the main reason I created (and use) a whey protein supplement. (There’s also evidence that whey protein is particularly good for your post-workout nutrition.)

whey-protein-supplement

WHEY+ is 100% naturally sweetened and flavored whey isolate that is made from milk sourced from small dairy farms in Ireland, which are known for their exceptionally high-quality dairy.

I can confidently say that this is the creamiest, tastiest, healthiest all-natural whey protein powder you can find.

Pre-Workout Drink

There’s no question that a pre-workout supplement can get you fired up to get to work in the gym. There are downsides and potential risks, however.

Many pre-workout drinks are stuffed full of ineffective ingredients and/or minuscule dosages of otherwise good ingredients, making them little more than a few cheap stimulants with some “pixie dust” sprinkled in to make for a pretty label and convincing ad copy.

Many others don’t even have stimulants going for them and are just complete duds.

Others still are downright dangerous, like USPLabs’ popular pre-workout “Jack3d,”which contained a powerful (and now banned) stimulant known as DMAA.

Even worse was the popular pre-workout supplement “Craze,” which contained a chemical similar to methamphetamine.

The reality is it’s very hard to find a pre-workout supplement that’s light on stimulants but heavy on natural, safe, performance-enhancing ingredients like beta-alanine, betaine, and citrulline.

And that’s why I made my own, and I called it PULSE.

pre-workout-supplement

What makes PULSE special, you ask?

  • Clinically effective dosages of 5 natural, performance-enhancing ingredients backed by peer-reviewed, well-designed, and well-executed research: caffeine, theanine, citrulline malate, beta-alanine, betaine, and ornithine.
  • No proprietary blends.
  • No other stimulants than caffeine.
  • No artificial sweeteners, flavors, or food dyes.
  • No unnecessary fillers, carbohydrate powders, or junk ingredients.

While everyone claims to have the best pre-workout supplement on the market, I can actually back up such claim with real science, and real numbers.

The Bottom Line on the Best Butt Exercises

As you can see, there are no “secrets” or “weird tricks” for building a great butt. It just takes a bit of know-how and lot of consistent, persistent work, and you’ll get there.

Before you try the next Pinterest challenge or Instagram workout of the day, give my advice a go. It’s tough but it works.

Want More Workouts?

The Ultimate Chest Workout

best chest workout

The Ultimate Arms Workout

arms-workouts

The Ultimate Back Workout

back-exercises

The Ultimate Shoulder Workout

shoulder-exercises

The Ultimate Abs Workout

ab-workouts

The Ultimate Legs Workout

Arnold Schwarzenegger squatting deep.

The Ultimate Calves Workout

ultimate-calves-workout

The Ultimate Forearm Workout

deadlift-form-tips

The Ultimate Bodyweight Workout

Man doing push-ups on kettlebells.

 

What do you think are the best butt exercises? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like my articles, then you'll love my bestselling books. They'll show you exactly what you need to do to build muscle and lose fat without hating your diet or living in the gym.

If you're a guy, check out Bigger Leaner Stronger, and if you're a girl, Thinner Leaner Stronger is for you.

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE USED MY BOOKS TO BUILD THEIR BEST BODIES EVER. WILL YOU BE NEXT?

If you want a "paint-by-numbers," step-by-step blueprint for building a muscular, lean, strong body...faster than you ever thought possible...then you want to check out my bestselling books.

Here's a little sneak peek of what you'll learn inside...

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