5 Fierce Trainers Share Their All-Time Favorite Butt Exercises
Everyone wants to have a firm, toned butt — but glute exercises aren't just good for aesthetics. "These help with bad backs, bad posture, improving power, speeding up sprints . . . there's no reason you should ever skip a glute exercise," Danni Tabor, a London-based level 3 certified personal trainer, told POPSUGAR.
POPSUGAR chatted with five fabulous trainers with different styles and approaches to fitness to get the booty exercises they can't live without. You can test these out if you're a beginner or if you've been training your glutes for a while and need to spice up your regimen. Get ready to torch your glutes — alllll the glutes — and sculpt a strong, powerful posterior that'll prevent pain, improve posture, and contribute to your overall goddess vibe. Because health is wealth, amirite?
"One of my favorite glute exercises is a donkey kickback, because you can feel it working right away," Maya Monza, BS, an F45 trainer and SoulCycle instructor, told POPSUGAR. "For a little extra resistance, try putting a dumbbell behind your knee on your working side. Donkey kickbacks are great for both stability and toning!"
- Come onto all fours into a neutral spine tabletop position. Keep your shoulders right over your wrists without arching your back. Your neck and spine should be flat and your hips neutral. Imagine you have a hot cup of coffee on your back that you don't want to spill during the exercise. Draw your belly button into your spine to keep your core muscles engaged.
- Look down and extend one leg at a time into a kicking up motion with your heel flexed and knee 90 degrees. Imagine you are trying to place a footprint onto the ceiling.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top and slowly lower your working leg back down into starting position on all fours.
- Complete at least two sets of 15 reps on each side.
"Wide second is one of mine and Element Fitness Studio's all-time favorite positions," said Andrea Fornarola, an ACE- and AFAA-certified personal trainer and founder of Elements Fitness Studio. "It is a great total-body exercise, but especially awesome for the glutes! After doing this exercise just a few times during your workout you will really start to feel your glutes lift and tone."
- Stand with your legs wider than your hips, and rotate your legs out to either side in a naturally turned out position.
- Draw your hips down to knee level and feel the thighs and glutes engage.
- Begin to squeeze the thighs and butt towards the back of the room to work the tops of the thighs and the glutes.
- Repeat this in sets of 20 to 30, a few times throughout your workout.
"Stairs workouts are my absolute favorite for sculpting [the] legs and booty," Amina Barnes, an NASM-certified personal trainer, told POPSUGAR. "Running up stairs requires explosive power from your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. With each step, your glutes are activated because your legs are forced to lift your body weight. Glute activation is essential if you want to lift and tone your booty."
Glute activation exercises are especially important if you spend a lot of time sitting (do those hours at a computer ring a bell?), which can switch off your glutes and lead to dormant butt syndrome. The best part about stair workouts, specifically? "You don't need a gym," Barnes said. "You can do a 15- to 20-minute set of sprints, jumps, squats, and lunges using the stairs and you're all set. Buns of steel!"
For Tabor, it's all about those hip thrusts. She explained that a deadlift can feel daunting because, if it's done improperly or with too much weight, your back can carry a lot of the load. "But with the hip thrust, you're supported, grounded on the floor; your back doesn't take the load; your butt, hamstrings, and quads get worked — and it feels really safe for newbies," Tabor said. "On top of that, this move hits your glutes like no other." Specifically, during the hardest part of the move — when your glutes are shortened — your butt is forced to carry the weight. It can also work your hamstrings and quads, depending on the placement of your feet.
Tabor noted that there are a lot of variations on the hip thrust. You can also increase the weight and decrease your reps to focus on strength, or do the opposite, carrying less weight in order to pump your hips for more reps. Here are the basics to get you started.
- Set up a sturdy bench — 18 inches is ideal. If it's too high, it can be hard to set up and get the lift off the ground. If the bench is too short, you don't get as much range of motion.
- Once you have your bench set up, grab a barbell (a 20kg Olympic lifting barbell is best) with plates on either side (large ones are key, as they enable the bar to roll over your thighs). If you don't have a barbell, some hand weights will do.
- Set your back on the bench, with the edge just below your shoulder blades. If you lift your arms up and bend the elbows, you should feel the blades on the edge of the bench.
- Rest your butt on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet on the floor about two feet in front of you. If your feet are too close, the move will feel too quad-heavy, and if they're too far away, it will be very hamstring-focused. Your feet can be around a foot apart, dependent on the version of thrust you use.
- 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 rep.
Squat to Posterior Lunge
"My rehabilitative approach to fitness means that I view everything through a diagnostic lens. This movement allows you to tune into how your hips are moving and work to create strength and stability evenly between both hips," Liz Letchford, PhD-C, ATC, told POPSUGAR. "When one hip is stronger than the other, it can lead to discomfort or dysfunction, which is not going to give you the results you are after!" That's where this smart move comes in. "By switching from a stable squat to a more challenging lunge, you work the hips through a broad range of motion while connecting to any imbalances you may have," Letchford explained.
- Start in a squat stance, making sure you feel equal pressure through your entire footprint on both feet.
- Shift your weight to your left leg, feeling equal effort in your quads and your hips.
- Lightly tap your right leg back behind you for a lunge, keeping 80 percent of your weight in the front foot.
- Return back to the squat position, stand, and repeat on the other leg. Notice if one side feels more difficult than the other.