The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (2024)

The glutes are the largest and one of the strongest muscles in the human body. They work hard every day, allowing you to sit, stand, climb stairs, and lug heavy things around. Building stronger glute muscles (yep, there are multiple) will not only improve your speed and explosiveness but will also protect your lower back and knees from injury. Plus, all good glute workouts, at the gym or at home, target the gluteus maximus, or glute max for short — so you'll maximize your benefits both during and after your workout.

Whether you’re trying to sculpt your glutes or build muscle strength, these simple glute exercises accomplish all that and more.

What are the Best Exercises for Sculpting Your Glutes?

The best glute-sculpting exercises are lunges, squats, deadlifts, bridges, kicks, hip thrusts, and step-ups. Each of these exercises — whether done with or without dumbbells — will build muscle and strength in your glutes.

The 12 Best Dumbbells for Your Home Gym, Tested and Reviewed

How to Target Your Glutes

When targeting your glutes, aim for exercises that activate the muscles in your rear. The most effective exercises for sculpting the glutes include hip thrusts, step-ups onto plyometric boxes, lunges, squats, bridges, kicks, and deadlifts. As you build strength in this area, you can incorporate weights into these glute exercises for even better results.

The Benefits of Sculpting Your Glutes

Adding glute exercises to your workout routine is the best way to keep these important muscles strong and healthy. From preventing injuries and improving athletic performance to keeping your body in alignment and improving balance, there are many advantages to dedicating time to targeting your glutes.

The Best Exercises for Sculpting Your Glutes

Now that you know the benefits of sculpting the glutes, it’s time to add these glute exercises to your workout routine. These exercises vary from classic bodyweight exercises like equipment-free lunges and squats to bridges and deadlifts with weights or resistance bands. Some exercises target just the gluteus maximus, others also work the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.

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Barbell Hip Thrust

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (1)

Get ready to work those glute muscles with this butt exercise from "The Glute Guy" Bret Contreras, M.A., C.S.C.S., author of Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening. For a balanced workout, try mixing up your reps: "Some days you can go heavy for lower reps, some days you can go lighter for higher reps, and some days you can do both," says Contreras. "I will warn you though, high-rep hip thrusts are brutal. The booty burn is excruciating!" he adds.

A. Sit on the ground with back against a bench, feet planted firmly in front of body, and a barbell fitted with a pad (trust, you'll want this) in lap. (No barbell? Try one heavy dumbbell instead.)

B. Keeping lower back and knees stable, push through heels and raise the barbell by extending hips, making sure to use the force of glutes rather than back.

C. Rise until body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees (full hip extension), and then slowly descend back to the ground.

Do 3 sets of 6 to 20 reps, depending on the weight used.

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The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (2)

The step-up is one of the best glute exercises you can do to focus on strength, power, and balance in a unilateral fashion (aka one side at a time), says Declan Condron, an exercise physiologist and cofounder of PumpOne. "We all perform this basic functional movement many times a day, every day," says Condron. "It targets all the main large muscles of the legs, particularly the glutes and hamstrings, and really helps develop a nice toned rear end," he adds. To burn out one side during this exercise, step off the platform starting with right foot for a full set, then switch to stepping off leading with the left foot. Or spread the load by alternating which foot steps off the platform during each set.

A. Stand with right foot on a platform such as a bench or step, holding a pair of dumbbells by sides with arms straight.

B. Push through right heel and step up onto the platform with both feet.

C. Step down to the floor with right foot first, then left.

Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps per leg.

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Curtsy Lunge

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (3)

Turn up the power in your butt workouts at the gym or at home with this lunge variation that activates the gluteus medius — a smaller glute muscle on the side of your butt that helps to externally rotate the hip — much better than a traditional reverse lunge, which focuses more on the glute max. To make the move more difficult, do it with a pair of dumbbells or a kettlebell held in the goblet squat position.

A. Stand with feet hips-width apart. Then, keeping weight in left foot, take a big step back with right leg, crossing it behind left leg. Make sure hips stay facing forward.

B. Slowly bend knees and lower down until front thigh is parallel to the floor, and both knees are bent at roughly 90 degrees.

C. Push through left heel to returning to starting position.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps per side.

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Quadruped Hip Extension

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (4)

While this exercise may seem simple, research has actually shown that the glute kickback or donkey kick — which are other names for this glute exercise — causes more muscle activation in the gluteus maximus and the gluteus medius when compared to other common butt workout exercises (yep, even squats). Plus, the flexed heel curling toward your butt activates your hamstrings nicely. This bodyweight move can be done anywhere for ease, and you can make it more challenging with the use of resistance bands or a light dumbbell behind the knee.

A. Start on hands and knees with knees directly below hips and wrists directly below shoulders, fingers pointing forward.

B. Keeping core engaged to avoid arching back, lift right leg to the sky (keeping the knee bent). The foot should be flexed so sole of foot is facing the ceiling. Avoid rotating hips by keeping shoulders and hips squared to the floor during the entire exercise. Return to start to finish the rep, then repeat.

Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps per leg.

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Sprinter Lunge

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"This is a signature sprinter move to improve power, and the added bonus is that it really pumps up your glute muscles too," says Samantha Clayton, a former Olympic athlete and personal trainer. "Try to do this while working on your coordination, driving the opposite arm to the opposite knee. The aim is to get height, not distance, with each step," she adds.

A. Stand tall with feet shoulders-width apart. Step left leg back into a reverse lunge, going as low as possible while keeping back straight and making sure to maintain a bend in both legs.

B. Hold at the bottom of this lunge position for 3 counts, then push through right heel to explode up, driving left knee forward and up.

Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps per leg.

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Barre Kickback Pulse

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (6)

Don't let the small range of motion fool you: Your booty will definitely feel this micro movement crafted by Tracey Mallett, a certified Pilates instructor and creator of the Booty Barre Workout. Throughout this glute workout , you want to think about "keeping the body pitched forward from the hips so that the work is in the gluteus, not the lower back," says Mallett. To seriously challenge your balance, do the move in a relevé on the standing leg (rise to the ball of your foot and stay there while pulsing the back leg).

A. Stand facing the barre, the back of a chair, or a sturdy countertop. Place right forearm down on the barre and bend both knees slightly.

B. Keeping knees bent, lift left leg behind body until thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Externally rotate hip slightly to engage the glute med as well as glute max. Point toes and place left hand on hip.

C. Lift bent left leg up and down in small 1-inch pulses, keeping hip elevated the entire time to increase time under tension. Do one set, then switch sides; repeat.

Do 3 sets of 20 small pulses per leg.

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Barbell Squat

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You already know that squats are one of the best glute exercises of all time, and adding heavy weight makes them even more effective, says Elizabeth Burwell, a NASM-certified trainer and co-owner of High Performance Gym in Greenville, South Carolina. "A good goal would be to squat your own body weight," says Burwell. But don't worry: If that sounds intimidating, you can absolutely work your way up safely.

A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hips-width apart, toes slightly turned out.

B. Leading with hips, lower butt down and back to low point (thighs parallel to ground is a good goal, but don't feel pushed to go past there) then press through heels to return to starting position, squeezing glutes at the top.

Do 3 sets of 8 reps.

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Bridge with Leg Extension

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (8)

"The bridge isolates the gluteus maximus because the leg is bent at the knee and therefore the hamstring is less active," says Robert Forster, a physical therapist and founder of Phase IV and Forster Physical Therapy. "Extending the opposite leg serves to put much more work onto the glute of the stationary leg, and balancing on one foot recruits the other glute muscles on the outside of the pelvis for stability," he explains. While you power through this move, remember to avoid overextending your hips, which causes you to arch your back and turns your butt exercise into a backbend. To do this glute exercise effectively, make sure you know the difference between a glute bridge and hip thrust.

A. Lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands at sides.

B. Do a pelvic tilt, making sure lower back is pressing into the floor. Then squeeze glutes and press through heels to raise hips off the mat to create a straight line with body, aligning knees, hips, and shoulders.

C. Straighten right leg, keeping quads and knees aligned, and hold for 3 counts.

D. Drop right foot to the ground to return to starting position. Switch sides; repeat. Continue alternating.

Do 3 sets of 10 reps per side.

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Pretzel Side Kick

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (9)

Warning: You'll feel the effects for days (and days) — especially in your glute med — after you start doing this glute exercise from Stephanie Vitorino, an ACE-certified celebrity trainer based in Los Angeles. If lifting your knee and foot off the floor is too challenging, start by lifting only the foot, then add the kick when you're ready.

A. Start seated with left knee bent directly in front of left hip and right knee bent behind right hip.

B. Rotate torso and place hands on either side of left knee.

C. Brace core and lift right knee and foot off the floor, keeping chest lifted.

D. Keep right leg lifted and extend to kick, leg parallel to the floor. Bend right knee back in and release it to the floor.

Do 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps per side

Yoga-Inspired Butt Exercises for a Stronger Butt

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Pistol Squat

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (10)

"You cannot cheat on this exercise," says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. "This butt workout move takes the best glute activation a squat can offer and the best hip and thigh activation that a lunge can offer all rolled into one truly challenging but oh-so-worth-it exercise!" she adds.

To modify this advanced glute exercise, put a chair directly behind you, so you can quickly tap your butt to the edge of the seat. As you progress, you can use objects (such as the bottom of a step) that are lower to the ground. (P.S. This 30-day squat challenge will keep the glute workout wins coming.)

A. Stand on right leg with entire foot rooted firmly into the floor, left leg lifted slightly forward to start.

B. Bend right knee and send hips backward, reaching both arms forward while extending left leg forward, lowering body until hips are below parallel.

C. Squeeze glutes and hamstring to stop the descent, then imagine pushing the standing leg through the floor to press back up to standing.

Do 2 sets of 5 reps on each leg.

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Hamstring Curl

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You will literally lift your buns with this awesome exercise from Chris Freytag, an ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness expert. To incorporate it into your glute workouts at the gym or at home, you'll need a stability ball, gliders, or even just a folded towel on a smooth surface to work your glutes, hamstrings, and core.

A. Lie faceup with heels pressed into the top of the stability ball, gliders, or towel and arms extended by sides. Pressing through glutes, lift lower back a few inches off the floor.

B. Pull heels toward glutes, lifting hips a few inches higher.

C. Roll or slide back to extend legs and return to starting position.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (12)

The single-leg Romanian deadlift is an incredible booty-builder, says Nick Tumminello, a NSCA-certified trainer and owner of Performance University in Baltimore. Bonus: You can use just about any weight, such as a mini barbell or small to medium kettlebell (as shown), for this glute workout exercise.

A. Stand with feet hips-width apart, holding a kettlebell in one hand or a pair of dumbbells in both hands, palms facing thighs.

B. Keeping spine neutral, hinge at hips (push hips toward the wall behind body), and allow the weight to lower toward shins.

C. While lowering, bend right knee slightly and lift left leg behind body to counterbalance. If using a kettlebell, transfer to right hand.

D. Press through right heel to return back to standing. Repeat for 1 set, then switch sides; repeat.

Do 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps per side.

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Glute-Hamstring Extension

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (13)

This booty-strengthening exercise is sure to challenge your butt muscles, no matter how experienced you are with glute-focused training — which is why it was recommended by Jessica Lozano, a NSCA-certified personal trainer at the Institute of Human Performance in Boca Raton, Florida. (Learn more about this piece of equipment, also called a glute-hamstrings developer (GHD), including all the glute-sculpting and building benefits you can get from using it.)

A. With feet locked in, quads on the main pad (not knees or hips), lower torso so it's parallel to the floor and hold body completely still for 1 count. Arms can be crossed in front of chest.

B. From this position, slowly lower torso toward the floor. Make sure to keep chest and neck lifted and back straight while lowering.

C. Use a controlled tempo during the exercise: Aim for a 2- to 3-second count on the way down, and take 1 to 2 seconds to come back up.

Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

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Stationary Lunge

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (14)

The stationary lunge (also called a split squat) is a classic glute-strengthening move, and was suggested for your butt workout by Cari Shoemate, an ACE-certified personal trainer. Plus, the split stance challenges your balance, making your glutes work even harder. Pro tip: Keep the front heel pressed into the ground and avoid lunging forward — always drop down and up out of the lunge.

A. Stand with feet together holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step behind body with left leg, lifting left heel off of the floor, keeping most of the weight in right leg.

B. Slowly bend both knees, lowering body straight down until both knees create 90-degree angles, making sure to keep front knee in line with ankle.

C. Push down through front heel to slowly stand back up.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps per leg.

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Narrow-to-Wide Jump Squat

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (15)

This challenging move will get your heart pumping and work your fast-twitch muscle fibers (which help with explosive movements) to help strengthen your booty and increase your power. If you have a back or knee injury, you can omit the jump and just step out and in, advises Shoemate. Or, if you want to make the glute exercise harder, try jumping higher or faster.

A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hips-width apart, then bend knees and sit hips back into a low squat.

B. Using arms, jump straight up until both feet leave the ground. Land softly with feet together and sit back into a narrow squat position.

C. Repeat jump again, landing with feet wide next time. Alternate landing jumps in a narrow and wide squat, bringing feet in and then out each time they lower.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Plié Squat

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This peach-building exercise not only helps to strengthen your glutes with every rep, but it also targets the inner thighs and calves, thanks to the wide stance and raised heels. To keep your balance on your tippy-toes, make sure to draw the abs in tight while you squat.

A. Stand with palms pressed together at chest, feet twice as wide as shoulders-width apart, and toes turned out about 45 degrees.

B. Lift heels off the floor, balancing on balls of feet. Bend knees and lower body straight down, keeping hips under shoulders and back straight. Make sure knees open over, but not past, toes as they bend.

C. Slowly straighten back up to standing and then lower heels to return to start.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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Lateral Band Walks

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (17)

If you want to train your smaller stabilizing muscles — not just your large, dominant ones — lateral movement is key. The benefits of incorporating lateral exercises into your glute workouts at the gym or at home? It gets you ready for high performance, Tara Laferrara, a NASM-certified personal trainer, yoga teacher, founder of the TL Method, and co-owner of Compass Fitness, previously told Shape. "Firing up your inner thighs and glutes gets your hamstrings ready to deadlift 200 pounds," she says.

A. Stand with feet hips-width apart, holding a dumbbell at either end with both hands in front of chest or a resistance band around thighs. Bend knees, sit back into hips, and lower body until thighs are almost parallel to the floor, keeping back straight and knees behind toes.

B. Hold this squat position and "walk" to the left, stepping out with left foot, and then walking right foot to meet it. (Never let feet come closer than hips-width apart while "walking.") Keep shoulders back and abs tight to avoid hunching forward.

Do 3 sets of 15 steps in each direction.

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Walking Lunge

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (18)

The most functional of lunge variations, this glute exercise works your muscles similarly to how you walk and run, Holly Perkins, C.S.C.S., the founder of Women's Strength Nation, previously told Shape. If this move is too difficult, start with forward lunges and work up to the walking kind.

A. Stand with feet together, holding dumbbells on top of each shoulder or one dumbbell in front of chest with both hands. Tighten core.

B. Take a wide step forward with left foot while bending knees, lowering body into a lunge. Both knees should bend at a 90-degree angle, and front thigh should be parallel to the floor, keeping knee behind toes.

C. Stand up out of the lunge and step right foot in to meet left foot. Then repeat the move with right leg. Focus on keeping good form rather than moving quickly.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps, alternating legs.

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Squat with Backward Leg Extension

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (19)

Mix this move into your glute workout and you'll strengthen your quads while working your booty. When you're extending the leg back at the top of the squat, make sure to seriously squeeze the cheeks to get all the move's benefits, says Kym Perfetto, NASM-certified trainer and YouTuber extraordinaire.

A. Stand with feet slightly wider than hips-width apart.

B. Shift weight back into heels and lower into a squat.

C. Return to standing, shift weight onto left foot, and engage glutes to lift right leg straight behind body with foot flexed.

D. Return to starting position and repeat, alternating sides.

Do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) for 30 seconds.

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Walking Squat

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (20)

In this Perfetto-approved glute exercise, you'll hold a squat while stepping backward and forward — and after 30 seconds of work, your quads and glutes are sure to feel like they're on fire.

A. Start in a squat position with feet wider than shoulders-width apart.

B. Remaining in squat position, step right foot forward, then left foot forward. Then step right foot back and left foot back. Repeat.

Do AMRAP for 30 seconds.

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Forward-and-Back Jump Squat

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (21)

Explosive jumping exercises such as these jump squats help strengthen every muscle in your legs, including your inner thighs and booty. By including them in your glute workouts at the gym or at home, you'll also get your heart pumping and score some of the perks of cardiovascular training.

A. Start in a squat position with feet wider than shoulders-width apart.

B. Remaining in squat position, hop forward about a foot, then hop backward to start position. Repeat.

Do AMRAP for 30 seconds.

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Single-Leg Deadlift Hop

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (22)

Just like the single-leg Romanian deadlift, this butt exercise works the hamstrings, glutes, lats, and rotator muscles unilaterally — which helps correct muscular imbalances, Alena Luciani, M.S., C.S.C.S., founder of Training2xl, previously told Shape. Thanks to the added hop, you'll also get a hit of cardio.

A. Start balancing on slightly bent right leg, left leg hovering off the floor.

B. Bend at hips to reach down and touch the floor with left hand, extending left leg backward. (To make this harder, try holding a kettlebell with the left hand.)

C. Drive left knee forward to a high knee and push off right foot to hop off the floor, landing back on right foot, and reach down to begin next rep.

Do AMRAP for 30 seconds, then switch sides; repeat on other leg.

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Sumo Burpee

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (23)

Rather than jumping straight into the air at the end of every rep as a normal burpee would have you do, you'll sink into a sumo squat in this variation — this modification is sure to leave your booty, core, and thighs quivering.

A. Start with feet wider than shoulders-width apart.

B. Squat down to place hands flat on the floor inside of feet. Hop feet back to high plank position.

C. Jump feet forward to land outside of hands, then lift torso up, keeping knees bent in a squat. Extend legs to return to start.

Do AMRAP for 30 seconds.

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Glute Bridge with Adduction

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To put it simply, "there is nothing that works the glutes better than a good, old-fashioned bridge," says Perfetto. In this variation, you'll hold the bridge for the entire round and quickly squeeze the thighs together to target the adductor (inner thigh) muscles.

A. Start in a bridge position, feet flat on the floor, core tight, and butt lifted.

B. Squeeze inner thighs to move knees toward each other. Release back to start position, then repeat.

Do AMRAP for 30 seconds.

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How to Get the Most Out of Your Glute Workouts

Incorporate these exercises into your glute workouts (at the gym or at home). There are suggested reps and sets for each, but otherwise, they are totally customizable. You can try a few as a finisher to a lower-body workout, do one set of each for a circuit-style workout, or simply incorporate your favorites into your usual full-body workout.

While you can effectively work your glutes with bodyweight exercises alone, many of these trainer-approved exercises utilize tools and equipment that take your glute workouts to the next level.

Some items that you'll want to add to your glute sculpting routine: a stability ball, tall step or stable plyometric box, glute-ham developer machine, barbell, and a set of medium (8–12 pounds) or heavy (20–35 pounds) dumbbells.

Ready to challenge your glutes and build lower-body strength? Learn how to strengthen your glute muscles so you can sit, stand, climb, and move with ease.

The 24 Best Butt Exercises of All Time, According to Trainers (2024)
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