The squat has long been touted as the best exercise for for an enviable derrière, yet many people struggle with proper form due to underactive glutes and tight hip flexors. Translation? If you work a desk job or are just getting back into your fitness routine after a slump, check out the following exercises to build a better butt without risking injury.
1. Glute Bridge
- Lie on the floor in supine position with your hands by your side and your knees bent, feet shoulder width apart.
- Push through your heels in order to lift your hips off the floor—keeping your back straight.
- Return to starting position.
- Perform three sets of 10.
2. Dumbbell Step Up
Get ready to lift your assets—this move is tougher than it looks. Beginners should start sans dumbbells and may need to regress the exercise by using a lower platform, such as an aerobic step.
- Get into starting position by facing the bench and stepping up onto the bench with your right foot. Keep your knee at a 90-degree angle. You can think of it as a lunge up onto the bench. Press through your right heel, bringing your left foot to meet your right so you are standing on the bench.
- Return to the starting position by brining the left leg back down to the ground and repeat the move on the same side for 10 reps. When you are done with the right side, switch to the left and complete another 10 reps. Do three sets.
- To even further advance the exercise, you can try simply tapping the ground with your non-lead leg instead of stepping all the way down. This will keep your glutes firing throughout the entire exercise.
Pro tip: The closer you are to bench, the more you are recruiting your quadriceps. To activate your glutes, try to keep a distance from the bench that really lets you feel your glutes working when you step up.
3. Donkey Kicks
Bottoms up! Jen Selter’s go-to move will set your booty on fire. Here’s how to do it.
- Get on your hands and knees and bend one leg up toward the ceiling. The key here is to put your mind in your muscle, and keep your glutes squeezed and activated throughout the entire rep.
- Return to starting position, and repeat with the same leg for 15 reps. Switch legs for 15 reps. That’s one set. Complete three sets to really feel the burn.
You can literally do this move anywhere, so no excuses. To progress this move, add ankle weights or a resistance band like the one shown here on the Booty Belt—Kate Hudson swears by it!
4. Banded Lateral Walk
The only equipment you need for this move is an inexpensive and easily portable resistance band. These bands come in multiple resistance levels. Beginners can start with the lightest resistance.
- Begin by looping the band around your legs. You can place it anywhere below the knees that you find comfortable.
- Begin with a slight bend in the knees and step to the side with one foot, slowly following with the other. Focus on keeping your feet at least hip-width apart. The further apart you can keep your feet, the harder your glutes will have to work.
- Step for 15-20 steps to your right before repeating going the opposite direction. Aim for three rounds.
5. Goblet Squat
Okay, so it’s technically a squat—only better and deeper! This move will have you performing a picture-perfect squat in no time. Grab a moderately heavy kettlebell by the horns, and let’s go deep.
- Begin with the kettlebell at chest height, hands on the horns, feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
- Squat down, keeping your weight in the heels. Focus on keeping your back flat and chest upright.
- Your elbows should brush against your inner things. It’s okay if you feel like you are pushing your legs apart. You may be surprised how low you can go as the kettlebell will help counterbalance your weight.
- Complete three sets of 10.
Now you know the five moves to master before you attempt a PR in a back squat. And knowing is half the battle.