If You Despise Squats, These Are the 16 Exercises You Should Be Doing
If you are in the market for a bigger booty and believe squats are the only exercise to get those results, think again. It turns out squats don't work the gluteal muscles as much as we thought. The primary muscle group strengthened when performing squats are the quadriceps (on the front of your thighs), with your gluteal muscles being the secondary muscle group strengthened. While we think squats are a great lower-body exercise to improve power and strength, they won't make a drastic change when it comes to your backside.
If squats just aren't your thing and you'd rather do any other exercise — burpees, push-ups, planks, sprints — we've got you covered. The 16 strengthening moves ahead are squat-free and will help you achieve the booty results you're after. Check them out and get ready to build that booty!
- Start from standing, and step your left leg behind you and to the right so your thighs cross, bending both knees as if you were curtsying. Make sure your front knee is aligned with your front ankle.
- Return to standing, and switch sides to complete one rep.
Glider Side Lunge
- Stand with your feet a few inches apart, with your right foot on a plastic lid, glider disc, or paper plate. Make a fist with one hand, and cup your other hand over it. Keep your hands in front of your chest throughout the exercise to help you stay balanced.
- Put weight into your left leg, and as you slowly bend your left knee and squat down, slide your right foot out to the side. Then as you slowly straighten your leg, slide the right foot back in. Most of your weight remains in the leg that's not moving.
Split Lunge Jumps
- Stand with your feet together and your knees soft. Jump and come into a lunge with your left leg forward.
- Push off with both feet, jumping them together, then hopping into a lunge with your right leg in front.
- Jump your feet back together to complete one rep.
- 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 joints (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.
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.
- 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.
Dumbbell Walking Lunges
- Stand upright, feet together, with 10-pound dumbbells at your sides. 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.
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 sides 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.
Traditional Bridge Exercise
- 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. 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.
Hex Bar Deadlift
- 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.
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.
Single-Leg Deadlift With Kettlebell
- Hold a kettlebell (between 10 and 20 pounds) in your right hand, and lift your left foot slightly off the ground.
- Keeping your back neutral, lean your entire torso forward while raising your left leg, which should stay in line with your body. The kettlebell will lower toward the ground. Keep your left shoulder blade pulled down your back.
- With your back straight, return upright, coming to your starting position. This completes one repetition. Maximize this move by keeping your right foot off the ground as you go through your repetitions.
Cable Pull Through
- Set the pulley low on the cable stack machine.
- Use the rope or V attachment, as this makes it easier to pull through your legs.
- Inhale, then hinge at your hips, keeping a flat back with your chest up.
- Once you reach the bottom, exhale and push through with your hips to return to the standing position.
- This completes one repetition.
- Stand in front of your stool, and place your left foot in the center of the stool.
- Step up onto the stool, and bring your right knee forward and up.
- Lower yourself back to the floor, with your foot landing quietly.
- Switch legs and repeat to complete one repetition.
Lunges on a Ball
- Place the top of your left foot on the ball. Keep your right knee soft — do not lock your standing knee.
- Reach your arms forward at shoulder height. If balancing in this position is too challenging, open your arms out to the sides. Inhale to prepare.
- Exhale, and actively pull your deep abs toward your spine. Bend your right knee, engage your right glute, and lunge. The ball will move back, and your shin will move to the top of the ball. Make sure your right knee doesn't move beyond your toes.
- Inhale to straighten your front leg. This completes one repetition.
- Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Keep your right knee at a 90-degree angle as you slowly raise your leg to the right until it is parallel to the ground. Avoid lifting your right hip, as you should keep both hips squared toward the floor.
- With control, lower your leg back to the ground.
- This completes one repetition.