Coveting a better behind isn’t just about aesthetics. A strong and sculpted butt is the secret to improving speed, power and overall sports performance, while also decreasing your risk of injury. After all, your glutes (made up of the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus) are the largest and strongest muscles in your body.
So how do you build a stronger backside? Squats are a good place to start. But if you really want to get your booty rock solid, it’s a good idea to incorporate weights, resistance bands, stability balls and even foam rollers into your glute workout. Here are 50 butt exercises that will help you think outside of the box when it comes to squats, lunges, glute bridges, leg lifts and more.
Butt Exercises: Squats, Lunges, Glute Bridges, Leg Lifts and More
Whether you love or hate ‘em, squats are one of the best butt exercises for strengthening your backside. Experts say that if you want to run faster, jump higher and lift heavier, squatting low is the way to go. They might look easy, but prepare to work when you add a barbell, slam ball or heel raise to the mix. These squat variations not only add some power to your jumps and kicks, but they also help improve your knee stability and range of motion. So how low can you go? Try these exercises to find out.
The beauty of compound exercise really shines through with this squat thruster. Using power from your glutes and lower body, you’ll press the dumbbells up overhead in one continuous movement.
Want to amp up your split squat? Try balancing on a slam ball. Engaging your core will help keep your foot from rolling off the ball and move with control. Consider it a must-do if you want a workout that offers core strengthening and a butt lift.
Riding the line between free weights and fixed machines, the landmine is a great way to practice proper form with the squat. Feet should be hip-distance apart and the weight in your heels. Holding onto the landmine with both hands will help keep your chest upright while squatting.
4. Back Squat
Want to nail a badass move with the barbell? The back squat is a good start. Here, you want to sit your body straight down, weight in your heels, while keeping your chest and back upright. Check out more tips on how to nail this move here.
Aside from getting in a killer cardio workout, the rower can work your booty in surprising ways. This lateral pistol squat not only ignites your glutes, but also your inner thighs and quads.
6. Sumo Squat
This barre-inspired bodyweight squat gives you the benefits of isometric exercise without putting pressure on your joints. You’ll not only get your glutes in gear, but your hamstrings and inner thighs, too.
If you want to train like LeBron (or, ahem, Steph Curry), you’ll get a taste with this basketball-inspired move. As you jump up from the squat position, bring your legs together and pencil your arms up with the ball in your hands. It’s one of the best exercises for increasing power.
You’ll give your triceps some TLC in this squat with extension. As you squat down, swing your arms slightly behind your hips. And then as you stand up straight, extend your arms overhead. Feel free to use a pair of dumbbells to add some weight.
9. Pencil Squat
If you’re someone who gets confused about know what to do with your arms in a squat, this move is for you. Reaching your hands up will help you focus on height, while getting your heart rate up, too.
Testing your agility and coordination, these side-to-side squats will force you to get lower and move more precisely as you tap each foot on the BOSU ball. It’s a sneaky way to add in some core work, too.
Reminiscent of chair pose in yoga, the heel raise will get your calves and quads burning, as well as your back and shoulders. If you want to make it more challenging, alternate heel raises.
12. Front Squat
Unlike a back squat where you place the barbell across your shoulders and lats, the barbell goes across your collarbone and in front of your body. This will force you to recruit more muscles in your core to maintain proper form.
A variation of the burpee, you’ll jump your feet forward from plank position to a diagonal squat with your hips squared to the front.
Next Up: Lunges
Strength and balance is the name of the game for these lower-body additions to your workout. While squats have a broader base of support, the split stance in lunges forces you to constantly re-adjust your weight. They can also challenge your mobility, and put your hip, foot and ankle stability to the test. From plyos to lateral to curtsy, these lunge variations fire up your glutes, quads, thighs and calves for superior leg strength.
If you think plyo lunges are hard, wait ‘til you try this one. Grab a ball to double-team coordination and endurance in one move.
Got some aggression you need to take out? These reverse lunges with battleropes get your arms moving, increasing your heart rate and full-body burn. And they feel pretty good for stress relief, too.
Using parallette bars gives your lunges some incline so you can improve the depth of the movement. You can also work with a pair of dumbbells to add some weight for an even better butt lift.
Our bodies aren’t meant to move in one plane of motion, and this combination exercise will help you break outside the box. Be sure to recruit your glutes, hamstrings and core (and not your arms) to pop the pair of kettlebells up to chest height.
Break through any exercise plateau with this childhood favorite. The trampoline adds fun — and extra height — to basic plyo lunges. Don’t have your own launch pad? Use a step or box.
Combining strength and speed, this box lunge will help improve your agility and endurance. A true calorie scorcher, this exercise will make you engage your abs and arms to help you jump onto the box as you start to lose steam. The bigger the movement, the better.
These forward lunges will strengthen every facet of your booty. Even better: Holding resistance overhead also sculpts your abs and arms.
Turn up the cardio, while building strength in your lower body. In this split jack variation from BJ Gaddour, you’ll use your arms, shoulders and back to help you create max force.
22. Pendulum Lunge
Sometimes you need to slow things down to tone things up. In a controlled movement, this pendulum lunge takes balance to a new level, as your gluteus maximus works in overtime to help stabilize your stance.
Curtsy lunges may look like a simple dance move, but these butt burners also sculpt your inner thighs and quads. Holding the towel taut also strengthens your core and arms.
If improving functional movement patterns is your goal, this exercise is a big step in the right direction. From the lateral lunge position, you’ll sit into a squat position before stepping your feet back into a plank.
Next Up: Glute Bridges and Leg Lifts
Glute Bridges and Leg Lifts
Not a fan of squats and lunges? Glute bridges (aka raising your hips off the floor while your shoulders stay grounded) are one of the best booty sculptors in disguise. By squeezing your glutes at full hip extension (when your body forms a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees), you engage all three major muscles that make up your backside. Leg lifts work similar magic, but with balance thrown in. Because form is so crucial to getting the most out of each bridge and lift, it’s best to nail down proper form before you get creative with your workout.
Small pulses in this bridge mean big gains for your booty. Your glutes will work extra hard to maintain balance, while fully extending your hips and leg. Be sure to keep your shoulders grounded to help stabilize your body.
26. Bridge Abduction
Combining a bridge and leg lift, this hip abduction is all about small, controlled movements. Pressing your shoulder blades and your standing foot into the floor creates a strong base.
Foam rollers are usually reserved for recovery, but in this bridge, the unstable tube underfoot forces you to squeeze your glutes (and your abs!) to reach full extension and maintain balance.
Your glutes shouldn’t have all the fun. Allow your abs to see some action with the hollow hold post-bridge, a Pilates-inspired move that fires up your core and inner thighs.
When you don’t have a plyo box or exercise step at home, a chair will do. This compound exercise strengthens your pelvic floor and core, in addition to your glutes.
30. Plank Leg Lift
Every workout can always use a plank variation. In this three-legged plank, be sure to squeeze your glutes as you lift one leg two inches off the ground, and then tap it out to the side.
Keeping your foot flexed when tapping the floor will help you engage your butt muscles more. Just a few reps is all you need to feel the burn for this floor exercise.
Perfect for beginners, this glute bridge helps you get used to balancing weight on one leg for a brief moment before bringing your foot back down. Remember to keep your butt lifted as you alternate sides.
Test your total-body strength with this bridge that also includes a chest press. (Hello, pecs, arms and shoulders!)
Take your glute bridges to the next level with this variation that strengthens your hamstrings. The instability of the ball and lack of surface area challenges you to move in slow, controlled movements.
Next Up: Jumps, Kicks and Burners
Jumps, Kicks and Burners
If you’re not a fan of squats, lunges or glute bridges, we’ve got plenty more butt exercises for you to try. These bodyweight-focused butt exercises work your booty in unique ways, while strengthening your core, inner thighs and quads. Plus, by recruiting muscles in your arms and upper body, you’ll get a total-body workout in one move. Quicken the pace to increase your heart rate. But how many reps can you do? Try a few of these moves to find out!
35. Jump Squats
Get your heart rate up and your booty burning with this plyometric variation of the squat — one of the best for creating powerful movements. As you explode up, be sure to land back softly on your heels with your knees bent.
36. Roundhouse Kicks
You’ll feel like a kickboxing pro with this butt-sculpting exercise. In a shallow squat position, kick with your left leg to the side, while punching your left arm out.
37. The Clam
This Pilates move sounds gentle, but a few reps can do a number on your glutes and inner thighs. For an added challenge, place a looped resistance band above the knees.
38. Treadmill Skate
If you thought treadmills were only meant for running, you were wrong. Working one leg at a time, prepare to torch your glutes, hamstrings and calves with this dynamic move.
39. Donkey Kick
Donkey kicks target the meatiest muscle in your backside: the gluteus maximus. When you kick it up, tighten your lower abs to avoid sagging your hips.
The butterfly can be a savasana option in yoga, but in a strength workout, it’s far from relaxing. Place the soles of your feet together and keep your knees pointed out as you pulse your booty off the floor to sculpt every angle of your glutes.
41. Forward Bounds
This explosive move turns up the intensity as you jump forward and back into squat position. Use a cone, medicine ball or weight as a marker for how far you need to jump. It’s a good way to see how you’ve progressed, too.
42. Frog Leaps
When done correctly, frog leaps are as much of a butt burner as they’re cardio torchers. Sitting deep into a sumo squat with your butt back and down is key to getting the explosive force you need to drive up from you heels and jump off the floor.
43. Star Jump Burpee
Whether you love or hate burpees, this star jump is a great way to close out a Tabata or HIIT workout. Instead of jumping straight up, you’ll jump into a star (seriously, you are one, so channel it), extending your arms and legs away from your body.
44. Single-Leg Skip
If you’re not a fan of plyo lunges, this single-leg skip is a great modification. From the shallow lunge position, push off your back foot and hop to it. Be sure to swing your arms to get your heart rate up.
Grab a swole mate to make a date of this one. You can use some momentum to help roll up to standing, but the majority of action should come from your legs, glutes and core.
Chair pose is known for its glute-building benefits in yoga. Add a twist, and you’ll also sculpt your obliques. As you sit deeper into the pose, concentrate on sinking down into your heels and sitting your butt back.
This HIIT-meets-yoga move takes you from a star jump to a sumo squat oblique twist. Quicken the pace to ramp up your calorie burn.
It might take some practice to nail down this heart-pumping move, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel it all over — but especially in your butt and abs.
Targeting the sides of your butt (or the gluteus medius), this exercise is the secret to a serious butt lift. Side stepping like this is also a key move to get your body prepped for runs, WODs or whatever lies ahead.
50. Dolphin Kick
While this exercise mostly targets your back, you’ll engage your glutes, hips and abs, too. Instead of pulsing, consider doing a static hold after raising your hips and legs up towards the ceiling.
Originally published June 2017. Updated January 2018.