Building enviable glutes is not only aesthetically desirable, but it’s also vital for a well-functioning body. After all, your glutes are the largest muscles in your body. The glutes help power the movements you do every day, from walking, rising from sitting, climbing stairs, and stabilizing the rest of your body.
Trainer Nicole Winhoffer will be the first to tell you that she’d choose leg day over arm day any day. So when we had questions about the best moves to target your bum, we knew just who to call. Winhoffer visited us at Byrdie HQ to show us three secret weapon moves for shaping, toning, and lifting your rear.
We also spoke to iFit trainer Mecayla Froerer for her tips on the best exercises for strong, firm glutes. “You can get a great workout in with bodyweight alone,” she says. Here are a few exercises Froerer recommends to consider adding to your at-home workout routine:
- Squat and deadlift variations
- Glute bridge or raises
- Abductions and kickbacks
“If you want to take the intensity up, you can always add extra resistance by using a loop band (mini band) or holding a dumbbell or kettlebell,” adds Froerer. Try working your glutes two to three times per week along with other body parts. Remember to continue challenging yourself with increased resistance. “This will take time to develop, and adherence to consistency with progressive overload and a proper nutrition plan will be critical,” says Froerer.
Don’t neglect the rest of your leg muscles either, especially the hamstrings (back of your thighs), which tend to be weaker in most people than the quadriceps (front of your thighs). “When both the glutes and hamstrings are developed, you will see the coveted “glute-ham tie in.” The best way to improve your glute-ham tie in is to strengthen your glutes, strengthen your hamstrings, and get leaner,” advises Froerer.
1. Fire Hydrant
Looking to target the upper area of your bum? “This is really good to lift the top muscle of the butt called the [gluteus] medius,” says Winhoffer. “That’s the one that gives you the shelf you can rest your margarita on top of.” Since this move requires side to side motion, it gives your obliques a great workout, too.
- Start on your knees with your arms at your sides.
- Lift your left knee so it’s parallel to the floor, and then kick your leg out to the side, straightening the knee.
- Bend that knee back, and return it knee to center.
- Repeat on the opposite side. Lift the opposite knee. Kick that leg out to straighten. Then bend that leg back, and return your knees to center. Repeat for three sets of 30 reps.
2. Butt Shaper
This comprehensive move challenges not only your backside but your legs and core as well. “The reason why we put our hands out is so that we rely just on the legs and butt to do the work,” Winhoffer explains. “We’re not just using our arms for balance.”
- Start on your knees with your arms at your sides. Step your right leg to the side so that your toes face outward and your knee is rotated outward as well. As you do this, bring both hands out in front of you or on your head.
- Step your left foot to the side so that it mirrors the right.
- Keeping your hips level with your knees, place the right knee back on the ground. Bring your left knee to the ground, and meet the right in a kneeling stance. Drop your arms and repeat. Do so for three sets of 30 reps.
3. The “Beetle”
When it comes to butts, we’re all going for that perfectly round shape. That’s what this move is for. “This hits the butt at all angles because our asses are circles,” says Winhoffer. “You can’t just do one movement and hit one part of the circle; the circle is a sphere.” This “beetle” focuses on the smaller muscles of the butt at all angles, which we don’t naturally target in everyday life.
- Start on all fours. Take your right leg and bend it to hip level. As you do that, place your arms slightly to the left to counteract your right knee as it lifts off the floor.
- You’ll proceed to straighten your leg out at three levels: high, then bend, middle, then bend, and low. After that, you’ll return to all fours.
- Repeat on the other side by placing your hands slightly to the right and lifting your left leg so that it’s bent and parallel to the floor. Straighten the leg at a high level, then bend, middle, then bend, low, then return to center. Repeat for three sets of 30 reps.
4. Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Single leg glute bridges hit your glutes and hip flexors while also activating your core. “This is a great exercise to strengthen the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and abs. This is also a good option for those who want to work the lower body, but minimize pressure on the lower back and avoid joint discomfort,” says Froerer.
- Lie on an exercise mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Raise one leg off the floor, pointing toward the ceiling. This is the starting position.
- Perform the exercise by pushing down through your other heel, raising your hips until they are in a straight line with your torso. Pause here for a count of one.
- Lower to the start position.
- Try 15 reps for one set before changing legs. Repeat for three sets.
5. Chair Pose
- Stand with your feet together.
- Inhale and reach your arms toward the ceiling, palms facing.
- Exhale, bending your knees and shifting your hips back and down as if you’re going to sit on a chair.
- Hold the pose and take five slow, deep breaths.
- Inhale and rise, then exhale your arms back down to your sides. Repeat five times.
6. Goblet Squat
“Squats are a functional exercise that can be seen in day-to-day movement. The goblet squat kicks things up a notch by introducing weight to the exercise. Targeted muscles for a goblet squat include the quads, glutes, calves, core, and grip strength from holding the weight,” says Froerer.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a kettlebell or dumbbell to your chest. This is the start position.
- Hinge your hips back and squat down, keeping a slight arch in your back.
- Continue to lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Pause here for a count of one.
- Return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times for three sets.