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Can Squats Make Your Butt Bigger?

Squats Aren't Making Your Butt Bootylicious — Here's What Actually Works

When you think of sculpting a bigger butt, one of the first exercises that probably comes to mind is the squat. Yes, squats are great if you're looking to increase your overall lower-body strength and size, but you're going to need to implement other exercises for a major booty transformation.

When you perform a squat, the main muscles targeted are the quadriceps with the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in your butt) acting as one of the main synergists (a muscle that helps create movement). If your goal is a bigger butt, you're going to want to do exercises that target your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.

Instead of doing hundreds of squats with minimal results, try the following exercises for the ultimate booty gains.

Image Source: Getty / filadendron

1. Crossover Lunge

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand or a medicine ball. Extend your arms down at your sides if you are holding dumbbells or hold the medicine ball in front of you with arms extended.
  • Take a large step diagonally forward with your right foot, planting your foot at the 11 o'clock position. Sink down until your thighs form right angles. As you bend your knees, curl the dumbbells toward your upper arms or the medicine ball toward your chest.
  • Extend your legs, lift your right knee and bring it in toward your chest, and lower your arms. Step back with your right leg, this time lunging behind your torso and stepping back to the 8 o'clock position. As you sink down into the reverse lunge, complete another bicep curl. This completes one rep.
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2. Dumbbell Walking Lunges

  • Stand upright, feet together, with 10-pound dumbbells at your side. Take a controlled step forward with your left leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. Your back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over your ankle.
  • Press your left heel into the ground, and push off with your right foot to bring your right leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. This completes one repetition.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

3. Single-Leg Bridges

  • Lie on your back and place your hands on the floor for stability as you bend one leg and lift the other leg off the ground.
  • Pressing your heel into the floor, lift your pelvis up, keeping your body in a stiff bridge position.
  • Slowly lower your body to the floor. This completes one rep.
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4. Romanian Dead Lifts

  • Stand holding a pair of medium-weight dumbbells in each hand, arms at your sides, with your knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your arms straight and knees slightly bent, slowly bend at your hip joint (not your waist) and lower the weights as far as possible without rounding your back, which should remain straight.
  • Now squeeze your glutes to slowly pull yourself up (don't use your back). This counts as one rep.
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5. Deadlift With a Knee Drive

  • If you're a beginner, you can do this exercise without weight. For more advanced levels, grab a set of dumbbells. Ten pounds is a good starting point.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, and stand tall.
  • Engage your core and keep your spine neutral as you begin to hinge at your hips, pushing your hips backward. At the same time, lift your left leg off the ground. Be sure to keep your left foot dorsiflexed (don't point your toes). Continue to hinge at your hips until your back is parallel to the ground; your leg should be in line with your back. Your back should be flat, and your head/neck should be in a neutral position.
  • Return to your standing position without placing your left foot on the ground. Once you're upright, drive your left knee up, creating a 90-degree angle at your knee joint. Your left foot should still be dorsiflexed. Be sure to stay tall and keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement. This counts as one rep.
  • Complete three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

6. Single-Leg Squats

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and raise your right leg, flexing your right ankle and pushing your hips back.
  • Lower your body while keeping your right leg raised (a squat with one leg). Keep your knees behind your toes and your heels firmly on the floor.
  • Hold and then return to standing. This completes one rep.
  • You can use a bench to squat/sit on to work your way toward doing the single-leg squat if needed.
Image Source: Unsplash / Jakob Owens

7. Bulgarian Split Squat

  • Grab a pair of 10-pound dumbbells. Begin by placing the toes of your left foot on a bench, box, stair, or chair, with your right leg straight.
  • Make sure your right foot is out far enough so that when you lower your hips, your knee stays directly over your ankle.
  • Bend your right knee, squeeze your left glute, and lower your pelvis toward the ground.
  • Press your right heel into the ground to straighten your right knee. This completes one repetition.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

8. Glute Kickback

  • Adjust the carriage so that it's at the bottom of the cable machine. Place the ankle strap attachment around your left ankle, and then attach it to the machine. You should be facing the pulley.
  • Next, select a weight that will challenge you — 10 to 20 pounds is a great starting point. As you begin to become more comfortable with the movement, feel free to increase the weight.
  • Step one to two feet away from the pulley, and place your hands on the frame to maintain your balance.
  • With a slight bend in your knees and your core engaged, kick your left leg back as high as it can go. Hold for one second, then return it to the starting position with control. This counts as one rep.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

9. Leg Press

  • Before getting started, add weight to the machine. 25-35 pound plates on each side is a good starting point. If this is too heavy or too light feel free to adjust the weight.
  • Sit on the seat and place your feet hips-width apart on the footplate.
  • Once your feet are in place, press the footplate with both feet as you simultaneously disengage the safety latches on the side of the seat with your hands.
  • With your feet still on the footplate, bend your knees letting the footplate come toward your body. Once your knees are at a 90-degree angle, press the footplate up and straighten your legs. Be sure not to lock your knees.
  • This counts as one rep.
  • Once you've completed a set, press the footplate and engage the safety latches.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

10. Traditional Bridge Exercise

  • On your mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Be sure and keep your feet underneath your knees, not in front. Plant your palms by each side, face down.
  • Raise your hips up to the ceiling, tensing your abs and squeezing your butt as you do. You should be making a long diagonal line with your body, from shoulders to knees.
  • Hold for a few seconds, making sure your spine doesn't round and your hips don't sag. Keep your abs and butt muscles engaged.
  • Lower down to the ground; this is considered one rep.
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11. Hex Bar Dead Lift

  • Load the hex bar with the weight of your choice. If you're new to the move, start by just using the bar without any additional weight.
  • Stand in the center of the hex bar with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend at your hips and knees as you grab the handles of the hex bar. Raise your hips up slightly, keeping your back flat, to create tension in the back of your legs (your hamstrings will feel tight).
  • Keeping your back flat and shoulders relaxed, drive your heels through the ground as you stand straight up.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top of the lift to ensure you get full hip extension.
  • Continue to grasp the handles as you lower the weight to the ground with control. Be sure to keep your chest open and your back flat. This counts as one repetition.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

12. Cable Machine Romanian Deadlift

  • Adjust the carriage so that it's at the bottom of the cable machine. Attach a triceps rope handle to the pulley on the carriage of a cable station. You should be facing the pulley.
  • Next, select the amount of resistance you want — 20 to 30 pounds is a great starting point. As you begin to become more comfortable with the movement, feel free to increase the weight.
  • Facing the pulley, grab the rope, and step approximately three feet away from the machine.
  • With a slight bend in your knees, slowly bend at your hips (this is a hinge movement pattern) as you simultaneously extend your arms forward. Your core should be engaged, and your back should be flat.
  • Then squeeze your glutes to stand back up as you simultaneously pull your elbows back (like you're performing a bent-over row). Pull with power, and continue to squeeze your glutes at the top to get full hip extension. Be sure to keep your core engaged.
  • This counts as one rep.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

13. Weighted Glute Bridge

  • Grab a medium to heavy dumbbell; 20 pounds is a great starting point. You can also do this exercise using just your bodyweight.
  • On your mat, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Be sure to keep your feet underneath your knees, not in front. Place the dumbbell on top of your lower abdominals (below your belly button and above your hip bones). Hold the dumbbell in place with both hands to prevent it from moving.
  • Raise your hips up to the ceiling, tensing your abs and squeezing your butt as you do. You should be making a long diagonal line with your body, from shoulders to knees.
  • Hold for three seconds, making sure your spine doesn't round and your hips don't sag. Keep your abs and butt muscles engaged.
  • Lower down to the ground; this is considered one rep.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

14. Forward Backward Lunge

  • Stand with the feet together.
  • Put weight on the left foot, lift your right knee up, and step into a forward lunge. The front knee should be at a 90-degree angle with the left knee just barely hovering above the ground.
  • Push into your right heel, come to stand, and immediately step the right foot behind you into a reverse lunge with the left knee at a 90-degree angle.
  • This counts as one rep.
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15. Barbell Hip Thrusts

  • Sitting on the floor with your legs extended, rest your back against a stable bench.
  • Place a towel or shoulder cushion on the bar for comfort (optional). Roll the barbell over your thighs until the bar is directly above your hip joints.
  • Brace your core. As you drive your heels into the ground, squeeze your glutes, lifting your hips up to full extension, meaning your hips are even with your knees.
  • With control, lower back down to the ground.
  • This is one repetition.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

16. Reverse Lunge With a Knee Drive

  • Stand with feet together. Take a controlled lunge (or large step) backward with your left foot.
  • As you lunge back with your left foot, drive your left arm forward to maintain your balance.
  • Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor and your right knee is positioned directly over your ankle. Keep your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor. Your left heel should be lifted.
  • From the ground, drive your left knee up coming into a standing position with your left leg lifted at a 90-degree angle. Simultaneously drive your right arm up to maintain your balance.
  • If it's too hard to come into to perform the knee drive from the lunge, step your left foot in to meet your right, then raise your left knee up.
  • This completes one rep.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

17. Lying Hamstring Curl

  • Start by lying flat on your back with an exercise ball under your heels. Bridge your hips up, and hold that position through the entire exercise.
  • Flex your feet and dig your heels into the ball. Place your arms straight out to your side for support — don't use them, though; they are just for support.
  • Slowly roll the ball toward your body as you curl your heels. Keep your hips in the bridge position; don't thrust them toward the ceiling as you do the move.
  • Then slowly return to the start position (straight legs, hips bridged) to complete one rep.
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18. Goblet Squat

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width with your toes pointed slightly out. Hold your dumbbell at chest level with both hands. Keeping your back flat, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your elbows touch your knees.
  • With your weight focused on your heels, push yourself up to the starting position to complete one rep.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kathryna Hancock

19. Clamshells

  • Lie on your left side with your head resting in your hand and your knees bent in toward your chest in a 90-degree angle.
  • Stack your right leg on top of your left leg.
  • Keep your feet together as you lift your top knee up toward the ceiling.
  • Lower your leg back down.
  • This completes one rep.
  • Don't forget to repeat on the other side.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Studios

20. Side Steps With a Booty Band

  • Place a resistance band around your ankles. Start with a lighter band and work your way up to a heavier band.
  • Begin standing with feet directly underneath your hips and your hands on your hips.
  • Squat halfway down and sidestep to the right, leading with your heel to make the glute muscles engage as far as you can manage without allowing your knees to rotate toward each other. Bring the left leg toward the right with enough space to keep some resistance in the band. Concentrate on keeping your pelvis level as you move sideways.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Studios

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