Build Strong, Sculpted Glutes with the Best Butt Exercises for Women
I have always thought that a pair of well-developed glutes is the best accessory for any outfit. A curvy derriere will draw gazes ranging from admiring to envious wherever you go. And of course, strong glutes are absolutely essential for functional movement and for high-powered athletic performance.
In our sedentary culture, many people’s butt muscles are weak and elongated. No, your butt doesn’t get a workout when you sit on it. Strengthening the glutes can help correct muscle imbalances and postural problems, which means butt workouts have the additional benefit of helping to prevent injury.
While few body parts are higher on the priority list for most women than the butt, many of us still have no idea how to get the butt we want. Read this article to finally discover what you must do to get the glutes you are wishing for. You will learn all about basic butt anatomy, butt exercises and the myth of spot reduction, tips and exercise guidelines for maximizing butt workouts, and the best butt exercises for women.
Jump to the Videos of the Best Butt Exercises for Women or continue reading to learn more.
Basic Butt Anatomy
The most important butt muscle with which we will concern ourselves in this article is gluteus maximus. Gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body, and combined with adipose tissue, forms the bulk of the butt.
Gluteus maximus originates on the sacrum, the ilium (posterior hip bone), the lumbar fascia, and the sacrotuberous ligament (a strap of connective tissue bridging the sacrum and the bottom hip bone). Much of gluteus maximus inserts into a rough area on the top backside of the femur. A significant yet more superficial portion inserts into the IT band.
You would be correct in assuming that such a large muscle covering such an important area has many functions. Gluteus maximus’ main function is to extend the hip (pull the leg backward), but it also works to externally rotate the hip and adduct the leg back toward the midline of the body. Additionally, gluteus maximus plays a large role in stability and posture, stabilizing the sacroiliac joint through its origin point in the sacrotuberous ligament as well as the lateral knee through its insertion into the IT band.
There are a host of other muscles in the butt area performing various functions which may augment the action of gluteus maximus. Other butt muscles include gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and piriformis. Click the links to read up on these butt muscles.
The best butt exercises for women work out many other lower body muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
Butt Exercises and the Myth of Spot Reduction
You must understand the following disappointing-yet-true information regarding butt exercises and spot reduction. Strength training exercises (including the best butt exercises for women) WILL NOT burn fat from specific areas. Spot reduction is a myth used to sell fitness magazines and exercise equipment.
In other words, no amount of squatting or lunging will melt fat off your butt specifically. Sorry, ladies, I sure wish it was easier. However, fat loss is pretty simple when you get down to it: you need to burn more calories through exercise than you consume through eating. Of course, that’s easier said than done!
Strength training is great for burning calories, but it works best when combined with an integrated fitness program combining nutrition, strength training, and cardio exercise.
If you have a low body fat percentage in the lean or ideal category, these exercises will define your butt muscles and tone up your whole butt area. If you have a higher body fat percentage and you don’t focus on fat loss while strength training, these exercises may bulk you out more, since adding muscle under fat means the muscle will push the fat outward.
All that being said, you’ll be happy to learn that many of the best butt exercises for women I’ll go over below are GREAT for encouraging fat loss while toning muscles. This is because the best butt exercises for women work on large muscle groups that eat up lots of calories.
Exercise Guidelines and Tips for the Best Butt Exercises for Women
The best butt exercises for women can be combined to form a complete butt workout, or you can pick and choose one or two to add to your exercise routine. Of course, you’ll see the best results from using all these exercises together as a full-on butt workout.
Virtually all of these exercises are a great exercise for the thigh muscles as well, especially the quadriceps and hamstrings. Calf muscles also come along for the ride, giving you a great lower-leg workout. This should come as welcome news to those looking to lose weight, since the more muscles get involved in any one exercise, the more calories are burned.
Bear this in mind as you consider the overall structure of your workout routine. You need to allow muscle groups 48 hours to rest and recover between strength training sessions. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get all your lower body work knocked out on the same day instead of doing butt one day and legs the next day.
You will get the most out of the best butt exercises for women if you perform more than one set. I recommend doing at least two or three sets consisting of at least 20 reps of each exercise. To save time, do the exercises one after another circuit-style instead of doing one set, resting, and then doing another set. If you’d like to find out more about sets & reps, weight training set structure, and lots more, visit our section on strength training.
For the best results, train your lower body with the best butt exercises for women three or four times weekly. Remember that to experience the fat loss likely required to reveal your newly toned and sculpted rear, you will want to focus on a solid nutrition plan and several cardio sessions per week in addition to your strength training routine. To learn more about fat loss, visit our weight loss section.
Best Butt Exercises for Women
Here we have four of the best butt exercises for women, including a couple variations for different situations. It may sound simple, but these four exercises are the key to getting the best butt ever. You don’t need any fancy gym equipment to get your butt into excellent shape; in fact, I recommend staying away from any glute-building machines in the gym since they are a waste of your time when compared with the highly effective butt exercises described below. Those looking to lose body fat should take note that weight machines also burn far fewer calories than freeweight or bodyweight exercises.
Bodyweight Squats, also known as air squats, are fantastic exercise you can perform anywhere, anytime since they require no equipment whatsoever. Squats work the butt, the thighs, the calves, and the core.
To perform a basic Bodyweight Squat, stand with feet hip width apart and squat back as if you are going to sit in an invisible chair behind you. Attempt to sink down until your thighs are parallel to the ground or even lower if you can do so without sacrificing form. See the first video for exercise instruction.
9 Essential squat form tips YOU MUST FOLLOW to avoid injury and get the most out of your squats:
1. Toes pointing straight ahead at all times
2. Full foot in contact with the floor from heel to toe
3. Knees never passing the toes as you squat down: keep the knees stacked above the ankles
4. Knees in alignment with the feet, not caving in or bowing out
5. Top of pelvis tilted slightly forward
6. Low back neutral, not excessively arched or rounded
7. Arms can be out in front for balance, crossed over the chest, overhead, or hands braced on the thighs if you need more support
8. Gaze straight ahead, not at the floor or the ceiling
9. Squeeze the glutes firmly and exhale on the way up
Do a set of 20-30 Bodyweight Squats.
Bodyweight squats are plenty of work on their own, especially for beginners. If you really want to challenge yourself with squats, you need to add weight. Hold dumbbells above your shoulders as shown in this video (the shoulder press portion where you press the dumbbells upward is an optional upper body add-on to the squat exercise). See the second video for exercise instruction.
When you start to need more weight to keep the challenge going, it works well to add weight to your squats with barbell held on your shoulders behind your head as you see demonstrated in the last video.
The basic Bodyweight Lunge is another fabulous anytime, anywhere exercise that works the butt muscles alongside the thigh muscles. Like the squat, there are a great many versions of the lunge. We will focus on the basic version, which is an excellent lower body toning exercise in itself, requiring only your body weight for resistance.
To perform a lunge, step forward a couple feet and stabilize your core while you lower your back knee toward the ground. Keep the weight in the front foot toward the heel and off the toes. As you sink into your lunge, make sure that the front knee stays stacked right above the ankle, never passing the toes. At the bottom of the movement, your back knee should be hovering an inch or so off the ground. To rise back up, push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes while bringing your back foot up alongside the front foot. Perform a set of 10 lunges for each leg.
In the video, you will see that the exerciser is holding resistance by his sides to make the squats more difficult. This is definitely an option, but bodyweight is enough for most beginners. As you get stronger, you will want to add resistance. Hold dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand.
To learn more about lunges, including many intermediate and advanced variations with accompanying videos, read our article dedicated to the tremendous lunge exercise.
Stability Ball Bridge
The stability ball bridge is an excellent exercise combining elements of core strengthening with glute strengthening.
To do a stability ball bridge, sit on the stability ball and roll out until only your shoulders and head are resting on the ball. From this supine position, engage your core muscles while contracting your glutes, pushing your hips up toward the sky. Hold for a beat, then lower your hips down. Keep your core engaged at all times to help protect your back. You should feel your butt and core working, not your lower back or hamstrings. Perform a set of 20 reps of the Stability Ball Bridge.
When you’re finished, walk your feet toward the ball until you’re sitting up in the starting position.
A stability balls is a wonderful and inexpensive piece of equipment to have around. To learn more, read our stability ball article and browse the Top-Rated Stability Balls Online.
If you don’t have access to a stability ball, this exercise can be performed on your back on the floor with no equipment. The stability ball adds to the challenge, but Floor Bridges are still an effective exercise.
Watch the second video to see a Floor Bridge exercise demonstrated.
The final exercise to add to your butt-building routine is very simple: Stair Climbing! Any exercise where you are climbing up an incline (think hill-walking, hiking, etc.) is great for your butt, thighs, calves, and cardiovascular system.
You can use the stair stepper machine at the gym for your Stair Climb exercise, or simply find stair cases out and about in the world. Choose stair cases that have good traction for your feet to avoid slipping. As you climb, always keep your core engaged to maintain good form, and squeeze your glutes to keep the majority of the work in your butt.