20 Butt-Lifting Exercises for a Tight (and Strong!) Tush


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Building a strong butt isn’t just for aesthetics, it’s important for your health, too.

Along with a healthy diet, incorporating glute training days into your workout regimen can help reduce lower back and knee pain, improve your posture, and help you perform daily tasks with ease (1).

While there are many exercises out there, choosing the right ones will help you grow a strong, healthy butt faster and more effectively.

Here are 20 exercises that can help you grow a tighter, stronger backside.

woman doing a squat outside
Guille Faingold/Stocksy United

20 exercises that shape the glutes from every angle 

If you’re looking to build a strong butt, you want to perform exercises from all angles. Your butt plays a key role in hip extension, abduction, and rotation, and selecting exercises that target each movement pattern will help sculpt and strengthen your glutes (2).

1. Glute bridges

Glute bridges are a great exercise for all levels, and the movement pattern is similar to the more complex exercises featured below. You can perform this exercise with a dumbbell or loop band, or without any equipment.

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and arms at your side. If you’re using a dumbbell, hold this across your hip crease. Your feet should be 12–16 inches (30–40 cm) from your butt.
  2. Press into your heels, brace your core, and push your pelvis upward by squeezing your glutes. Ensure your chest does not lift during this movement.
  3. Hold for 2 seconds and lower your hips back to the ground. This is one rep.
  4. Complete 8–12 reps of 2–3 sets.

2. Hip thrusts

Hip thrusts are one of the most popular and efficient exercises for growing and strengthening the glutes.

  1. Start on the floor with your shoulder blades resting against a secured bench that’s either against a wall or secured to the floor.
  2. Sitting on the floor with your legs straight, place a barbell across the crease of your hips and place your hands around the bar. Alternatively, you can hold a dumbbell.
  3. Next, bend your knees and have your feet about hip-width apart.
  4. Once in position, drive your heels into the ground, brace your core, and push your pelvis upward by squeezing your glutes. At the top of the movement, your shins should be vertical, your torso parallel to the ground, and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Avoid pushing with your lower back.
  5. Then, gently bring the weight back down.
  6. Aim for 8–12 reps of 2–3 sets.

If you’re using a barbell, you may wish to use a barbell pad to make the movement more comfortable. Ensure your chest is in the same position throughout the whole movement. Focus on using your pelvis to drive this movement.

Since this move is more advanced, it’s best to practice without a barbell until you can accurately perform this movement. If you’re new to this type of exercise, you can practice this movement with glute bridges.

3. Frog pumps

While this exercise sounds and looks a little funny, it’s a great move to activate your glutes at the beginning or end of a workout.

  1. Start by lying on your back with your knees facing out and the soles of your feet together. Your legs should look as if they’re in a diamond position. Keep your arms to your sides.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off of the ground, then lower them back to starting position.
  3. If you’re using this exercise to activate your glutes at the beginning of a workout, perform 15–20 reps. If you’re using this exercise at the end of a workout, aim for as many reps as possible (by the end you should “feel the burn”).

4. Leg kickbacks (quadruped hip extension)

This low load exercise is great for improving your range of motion, stabilizing your core and lower back, and targeting your glutes.

  1. Start on all fours, in what is known as the quadruped position. Your hands should be aligned under your shoulders, while your knees should be aligned under your hips. Engage your core and ensure your spine is in a neutral position.
  2. Trying to minimize any weight shift, lift your right knee off of the ground. Push your right heel backward and slightly upward toward the ceiling, straightening your leg. Avoid rotating your hips or shoulders — your glutes should be doing most of the work.
  3. Return your leg to the starting position. This is one rep.
  4. Perform 8–12 reps of 2–3 sets on each leg.

5. Standing kickbacks

Like with regular kickbacks, the goal is to target your glutes through hip extension.

  1. Standing 1–2 feet (roughly 30–60 cm) from a wall, place the palms of your hands against it.
  2. Lean slightly toward the wall and lift your left foot off of the ground with your knee slightly bent. Ensure your core is tight and your back is straight.
  3. Extend your leg backward around 60–90 degrees, making sure to squeeze your glutes.
  4. Return your leg to the starting position. This is one rep.
  5. Complete 8–12 reps of 2–3 sets on each leg.

Once you’ve nailed the movement, try performing it with a loop band around your knees or ankles.

6. Lateral band walk

This move will have your glutes on fire. It mostly targets your gluteus medius (your side glutes).

  1. Place a loop band slightly above your knees (optional). Stand shoulder-width apart with your knees slightly bent in a half-squat position.
  2. Shift your weight to your right leg and take a wide step left with your left leg.
  3. As you step onto your side, move your right leg over to return to your original position. Continue this for 8–10 steps.
  4. Next, do the same moves in the opposite direction. By the end you should be where you first started. This is one set. Perform 2–3 sets.

This move can be performed with or without a loop band. Always be sure to keep your hips level and feet forward. Try to avoid bouncing with each step. Instead, take your time and slowly step side to side.

7. Clamshells

  1. Start by lying on your right side with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, your right elbow bent, and your head resting on your right hand. Keep your spine in a neutral position and your shoulders, hips, and ankles in a straight line.
  2. Keeping the backs of your heels touching and core engaged, slowly lift your knee about 45-degrees up and pause for a moment. Note that your toes should also lift up, but keep your heels together.
  3. Return your knee to the starting position. This is one rep. Complete 20 reps on each side.

For an added difficulty, try this exercise with a banded loop and increase the number of sets.

8. Fire hydrants

  1. Start on all fours with your knees aligned with your hips and your hands aligned with your shoulders. Be sure your core is engaged and your neck is neutral (look straight down).
  2. With your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, contract your glutes to lift your right leg up at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Lower your leg to the starting position. This is one rep. Complete 8–12 reps of 2–3 sets on both sides.

For an extra challenge, try this exercise with a loop band.

9. Standing hip abduction

  1. Stand sideways next to a wall with your feet hip-width apart. Place your right hand on the wall for support and your left hand on your hip. Alternatively, you can challenge your balance by standing away from the wall.
  2. Transition your weight to your right leg and lift your left leg away from your body while keeping your toes facing forward. Hold for 2 seconds and return to the starting position.
  3. Complete 8–12 reps of 2–3 sets on both sides.

For an extra challenge, try this exercise with a loop band.

10. Side-lying hip abduction

  1. Start by lying on your right side with your legs stacked straight.
  2. Squeeze your glutes and lift your left leg vertically. Hold for 2 seconds and return to the starting position.
  3. Complete 8–12 reps of 2–3 sets on both sides.

For an extra challenge, try this exercise with a loop band.

11. Glute bridge abduction

  1. Lie on your back with your arms to your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor. Be sure your knees are slightly wider than your hips.
  2. While engaging your core, slowly lift your hips off of the ground using your glutes. Raise your hips until a straight diagonal line is created from your knees to your hips and shoulders. Avoid overextending your back.
  3. With your hips raised, push your knees outward with your glutes and pause for a second. Then, bring your knees back in and slowly return your hips to the ground. This is one rep. Complete 20 reps.

Try to keep your middle and upper back on the ground throughout the entire exercise, and focus on using your glutes to raise your hips.

12. Seated hip abduction, three ways

There are three versions of this move that will have your glutes burning.

  1. Sit on a chair or bench with a loop band around your knees.
  2. With your back straight, engage your glutes to push your knees outward. Hold for 2 seconds before returning to the starting position. This is one rep. Perform 10–20 reps.
  3. Next, scoot your butt toward the edge of the seat and lean slightly forward (be sure to avoid hunching your back). Then, perform 10–20 reps in this position.
  4. Finally, scoot your butt to the center of the seat and lean slightly back. Perform an additional 10–20 reps.

By adjusting your positioning, you’re able to target multiple areas of the glutes.

13. Squats

Many squat variations can help build a strong, taut butt. The key is to perfect your form and then incorporate additional challenges like weights (barbells, dumbbells, loop bands, or a kettlebell, etc.) or higher reps.

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Your toes should be slightly pointed out, and your hands should be on your hips or in front of you.
  2. Slowly push your hips back into a sitting position while bending your knees. Avoid driving your knees forward and instead focus on hinging your hips back, as if you’re sitting into a chair.
  3. Continue to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor (your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle). Then, hold the position for 2–3 seconds and slowly lift back up into the starting position.
  4. Perform 8–12 reps for 2–3 sets.

14. Bulgarian split squats

This single-leg exercise helps build a strong butt and improve your balance.

  1. Stand 2 feet (about 60 cm) from a step, chair, or bench, facing away from it.
  2. Bend your left leg and place the top of your foot on the bench. This will be your starting position.
  3. Next, bend your right knee and lower your body as low as you can. Be sure to keep your chest, hips, and shoulders facing forward.
  4. Press down into your right heel to return to the starting position. This is one rep.
  5. Complete 8–12 reps or 2–3 sets.

For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand during the Bulgarian split squat.

15. Reverse lunge

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your hands on your hips.
  2. Shift your weight onto your left foot and take a large step back with your right foot.
  3. With the ball of your right foot touching the ground and your heel up, lower your right leg until your thigh is perpendicular to the ground and your right knee is at a 90-degree angle. Your left knee should also be bent at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Push into your heel and squeeze your glutes to lift your body back to starting position. This is one rep.
  5. Complete 8–12 reps for 2–3 sets.

For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand.

16. Stepups

  1. Stand 2 feet (about 60 cm) in front of a secured box or bench. Ensure the surface will not move.
  2. Place your right foot on top of the box or bench. Your hips, knees, and ankles should all be at a 90-degree angle. This is the starting position.
  3. Next, push your right foot into the box or bench and squeeze your glutes to lift your body up. Instead of putting your left foot on top of the box or bench, keep it in the air.
  4. Then, lower your body back down. This is one rep.
  5. Continue this for 15–20 reps. Then, switch feet.

Take your time with this movement. If needed, secure your balance by placing both feet on the box and then slowly lowering back down.

17. Dumbbell deadlifts

When done correctly, deadlifts are an excellent exercise for targeting your hamstrings and glutes.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand and your palms facing your thighs. Be sure to engage your core and keep a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
  2. With a very slight bend in your knees, slowly lower the dumbbells toward the ground, stopping when they reach around the middle of your shins.
  3. Then, slowly rise back to the starting position by contracting your glutes. This is one rep.
  4. Complete 8–12 reps for 2–3 sets.

It’s best to start with a lighter weight at first and perfect your form. This will help prevent injury and target your glutes rather than relying on your lower back. Once you perfect this movement, you can opt for advanced deadlifts.

18. Good mornings

This move is great for targeting the hamstrings and glutes. Still, it’s important to practice good form to avoid injury.

  1. Start with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows and rotate your arms so that your hands are above your shoulders and your palms are facing forward. Alternatively, place a barbell across your shoulders or hold two light dumbbells in each hand over your shoulders near the base of your neck.
  2. Keeping a soft bend in your knees and your back flat, slowly hinge your hips and engage your glutes to lower your chest until it’s close to being parallel to the ground.
  3. Press into your feet, engage your core, and engage your glutes to return to the starting position. As you lift back up, push your hips forward. This is one rep.
  4. Complete 8–12 reps for 2–3 sets.

If you’re new to this move, it’s best to do it without added weight. Once you perfect your form, you can progress to using dumbbells or a barbell.

19. Kettlebell swing

  1. Standing with your feet hip-width apart, hold a kettlebell in front of you with both hands and have your arms straight.
  2. Keeping a soft bend in your knees and your back flat, hinge your hips and swing the kettlebell backward between your legs.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core to stand and swing the kettlebell forward and up to about shoulder height. When the kettlebell is at its peak height, ensure your hips are fully extended and keep your glutes squeezed.
  4. Next, use the momentum to swing the kettlebell back down. This is one rep. However, keep the movement going between reps.
  5. Complete 20 reps for 1–3 sets.

Most of the power should be driven by your glutes rather than your arms. Be sure to keep your core tight and your back straight, and avoid relying on your arms to lift the kettlebell.

20. Bird dog

This move is great for strengthening your lower back and glutes, which will help you perform other glute-dominant exercises more effectively.

  1. Start on all fours with your knees aligned with your hips and your shoulders aligned with your hands. Be sure your back is flat and your neck is in a neutral position.
  2. Extend your left arm forward and your right leg back while leaving your other arm and leg on the ground for support.
  3. Hold for 2–3 seconds, then alternate sides.
  4. Complete 8–12 reps for 2–3 sets.

Summary

By incorporating a variety of glute exercises into your workout routine, you’ll target your butt from all angles to improve strength and elicit muscle growth.

How many butt exercises should you do in each workout?

Generally, it’s best to perform 10–20 sets of glute exercises 1–3 days per week. Though, this is highly individual and will depend on the exercises you choose, your fitness level, intensity, goals, and schedule (3, 4, 5).

For example, let’s say you choose to do two glute days per week. Each workout you could opt for 3–4 glute exercises that comprise 2–3 sets and finish off with a high rep burnout exercise such as frog pumps.

Ideally, your workouts should challenge your muscles and focus on progressive overload. This means that you’re gradually adding more resistance, weight, or increasing the number of sets and reps you perform to stress the muscles and help them rebuild stronger (3, 4, 5).

Summary

For best results, try to include 3–4 exercises in each glute workout, and complete 2–3 sets of 10–20 reps.

How often should you work your glutes?

In terms of frequency, it’s best practice to allow at least 48 hours between exercises that target a particular muscle group. This allows your body to repair damaged muscles and rebuild them effectively (3, 4, 5).

That said, you may need more time if you’re experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you’re finding that you’re in pain or regularly sore following glute exercises, this may be a sign you’re going too hard (6).

Along with adequate rest, be sure to refuel your body with protein, healthy fats, and carbs. Doing so will provide your body with the tools it needs to build a strong booty.

Summary

For best results, try to incorporate 1–3 days of glute training into your workout routine.

The bottom line

Having a strong butt is important for your health. It promotes good posture, reduces lower back and knee pain, and can help you perform daily activities with ease.

While genetics play a large role in the size of your derriere, many exercises can help strengthen your backside.

For best results, try to incorporate glute training into your routine 1–3 days per week. Additionally, be sure to eat a nutritious diet and allow yourself adequate rest to promote muscle rebuilding.


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