Butt toning is my favorite subject, and as a certified trainer with 10+ years of experience teaching barre, I’m going to help you build your butt in the most effective and enjoyable way.
Strong hamstrings are the secret sauce to lifting up the glutes and creating definition in the space where the butt meets the thigh. For a lifted butt, you want to focus on the area where the glute max connects to the hamstring with standing exercises that implement hip hinges, or floor exercises that lengthen and contract the hamstring.
But booty work is not only for gains. It’s essential for keeping your body healthy. Another perk of butt lifting exercises is that they can help alleviate low back or joint pain, which often stems from weak or flat glutes. This is especially true for those of you who have a desk job or frequent spin class because your hip flexors and quads can get excessively tight, preventing your glutes from firing properly.
As your glutes get stronger, you’ll need to find new ways to challenge them if you want to maintain muscle tone. Start by choosing four exercises from below—two standing and two on the floor. Complete 15 reps each. Go through all four exercise and repeat. (Switch sides if needed.)
If you feel particularly challenged with an exercise, stick with it for a bit before swapping it out. To see and feel results, perform these exercises 4-5 times a week. Most importantly, breathe through your movement and focus on all the positives that it brings to your life: strong glutes, calm mind, and a backside that’s a peach emoji!
1. Squat Pulse
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands clasped in front of your chest. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat. Lift your body up a couple of inches, then lower back down. That’s one rep.
2. Donkey Kick
How to: Get on all fours on top of your mat. Keep your right knee bent at 90 degrees as you lift your leg into the air until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knee, your right toe kicking toward the ceiling. Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
3. Fire Hydrant
How to: Get on all fours. Keeping your right leg bent at 90 degrees, lift your leg out to your right side, stopping at hip height. Return to start. That’s one rep.
4. Hip CARs
How to: Get on all fours on top of your mat. Keep your right knee bent at 90 degrees as you lift your right leg away from your body, then rotate your leg until your knee is behind your body in a donkey kick position. Return to start. That’s one rep.
5. Glute Bridge
How to: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor 12 to 16 inches from your butt. Brace your core, then press into your heels and squeeze your glutes to raise your hips toward the ceiling. Hold the position for two seconds before lowering to start. That’s one rep.
6. Single Leg Glute Bridge
How to: Lie on your back with your arms out to the side, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Keeping your thighs aligned, straighten one leg so that your toes point up. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips evenly off the floor, then lower. That’s one rep.
7. Lateral Squat Wal
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Maintaining a tight core, step your left foot out to the side, followed by your right. Then step back to the left; that’s one rep.
8. Single Leg Deadlift
How to: Stand on your left leg with your right palm facing towards your thighs. Extend your left arm to the side for balance. Keep your left leg slightly bent. Lean forward, extending right leg straight behind you, until your torso is parallel to the floor, and your hand is almost touching the floor. Drive into your left heel to return to the standing position. That’s one rep.
9. Banded Leg Lift
How to: Start on your hands and knees, with a resistance band wrapped around your thighs. Raise your left leg into the air behind you, foot flexed. Stop when it’s parallel with your hips. Engaging your glutes, lift your leg up a couple inches, then lower back to hip height. That’s one rep.
10. Supported Single-Leg Deadlift
How to: Stand on your left leg with a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing toward your thighs. left arm by your side. Step your right leg a few feet behind your body, lift your heel, and press your right toes into the ground for balance. Keep your left leg slightly bent. Lean forward, hinging at the hips with a flat back while lowering the weight toward the floor. Drive into your left heel to return to the standing position. That’s one rep.
11. Banded Glute Bridge
How to: Wrap a resistance band around your thighs and lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor 12 to 16 inches from your butt. Brace your core, then press into your heels and squeeze your glutes to raise your hips toward the ceiling while pushing your upper back into the ground. Pause in this position and expand the band by pressing your knees apart. Return to start. That’s one rep.
12. Bird Dog
How to: Start on all fours (AKA tabletop position) with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Raise your left arm in front of you and right leg behind, forming a straight line from left hand to right foot. Hold for a second, then return to start. Repeat with opposite arm and leg.
13. Dumbbell Deadlift
How to: Holding two dumbbells in your hands, stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Position the weights in front of your thighs, palms facing your body. Keeping your knees slightly bent, press your hips back as you hinge at the waist and lower the dumbbells toward the floor. Squeeze your glutes to return to standing. That’s one rep.
14. Bulgarian Split Squat
How to: Stand about two feet in front of a step; extend your right leg back and place the top of your foot on the step. (Optional: Hold a dumbbell in each hand.) That’s your starting position. Bend your knees to lower your body as far as you can (or until your knee gently taps the ground), keeping your shoulders back, chest up, and hips facing forward. Pause, then press through your left heel to return to start. That’s one rep.
15. Stability Ball Hamstring Rollout
How to: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on top of a stability ball. Brace your core, then press into your heels and squeeze your glutes to raise your hips toward the ceiling. Lift your left leg straight up into the air. Hold the position as you straighten your right leg. Then, engage your hamstrings, bend your right knee, and bring your foot toward your butt. That’s one rep.
16. Weighted Fire Hydrant
How to: Get on all fours on top of your mat. Tuck a two to five-pound dumbbell in the crease of your right knee. Keeping that leg bent at 90 degrees, lift it out to the side, stopping at hip height. Return to start. That’s one rep.
17. Weighted Donkey Kick
How to: Get on all fours on top of your mat. Tuck a two to five pound dumbbell in the crease of your right leg. Keep that leg bent at 90 degrees as you lift it behind you until your knee is in line with your hip, foot flexed. Reverse the movement to return to start. That’s one rep.
18. Front Racked Reverse Deficit Lunge
How to: Stand up straight on small riser, step, or box with a set of kettlebells cleaned in front of your chest. Lift your right knee up to hip height in front of your body, then bring it behind you until the ball of your foot reaches the ground. Slowly lower down until both knees form 90 degree angles. Return to your knee-lifted position. That’s one rep.
19. Kang Squat
How to: Stand up straight with your feet wider than hip-distance apart, toes pointed slightly outward. Place your hands behind your head. Hinge at your hips and lower your torso down until it is nearly parallel with the ground. Then, sit your hips back and bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Push through your heels and reverse the movement, returning to stand. That’s one rep.
20. Modified Pistol Squat
How to: Sit on a chair with a dumbbell held in both hands in front of your chest. Lift your right foot so it’s hovering above the floor. Push through your left heel and rise up to standing on one leg, while bringing your right leg up to a 90-degree angle at hip height. Reverse the movement and lower back to start. That’s one rep.