The Absolute Best Exercises For a Stronger Butt, According to a Trainer

POPSUGAR Photography | Chaunté Vaughn / martin-dm

For better or for worse, butts get a lot of attention in the fitness world. And while it would be disingenuous to ignore the fact that people do glute workouts for aesthetic reasons – derrieres have been involved in plenty of body-based trends over the last several years – the truth is that butt exercises tend to deliver plenty of great, functional benefits as well. After all, a stronger bottom means a stronger foundation, so you can move with more stability, more power, and less risk of injury.

But squats aren’t the only way to work out your glute muscles. In fact, they’re not necessarily even the best way to exercise the glutes. Squats are a quad-dominant exercise, meaning that the movement mainly targets your quadriceps, the muscles on the front of your thighs. Your glutes get some work but come secondary to your quads in this move.

We know – surprising stuff, considering how popular squats are in lower-body workout plans. And they are a fantastic exercise to have in your repertoire (although you should practice proper squat form). But the Journal of Sports Science Medicine reports that strength exercises where you bend at only the hip are more effective at targeting your glute muscles than exercises where you bend at the hip and knee. That makes exercises like glute bridges, hip thrusts, or Romanian deadlifts better for engaging your butt than movements like squats or lunges – and the more you engage a muscle, the more it has the potential to grow.

One final FYI: the glutes aren’t one single muscle. They’re made up of three: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. This is another reason you don’t want squats to be the only butt-improvement move in your workout plan. To effectively build butt strength, you want to make sure you’re incorporating a mix of exercises, to activate all of the muscles that make up your glutes.

So if your focus is strengthening your glute muscles, you’ve got to start doing exercises that target them specifically. (You’ll also need to make sure you’re eating enough nutritious food to fuel your gains, including plenty of protein.) And to help you with that, we’ve rounded up some of the best butt exercises for building glute strength. We’ve included recommendations on the number of reps and sets to perform, but feel free to adjust based on your personal workout plan and needs. And don’t plan on doing all 17 of these butt exercises in a single workout; adding just a few to your lower-body day is more than enough to ensure you feel the burn.

– Additional reporting by Lauren Mazzo

Related: 11 Core-Stability Exercises That Do More For Your Abs Than Crunches Ever Could

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