The 6 Best Butt Exercises for Round and Firm Glutes

best butt exercise
Marites 4 weeks / 12 sessions

Summer’s always knocking on the door here in LA, and guess what? You’re about to unleash a whole new version of yourself!

Let’s cut the fluff and get real: those excuses? Burn ’em. They’re like old receipts cluttering your wallet – toss ’em out!  You’re not just getting up; you’re rising like a phoenix from the couch.

Now, I know you’ve had your share of fat-loss attempts – we all have. But here’s the secret sauce: don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You’re not competing with the beach babes strutting their stuff on the boardwalk. Nope! You’re competing with the person you were yesterday. And guess what? You’re winning!

Start small – like, baby-steps small. Imagine you’re tiptoeing across hot sand toward an ice cream stand. That’s how you approach this. Consistency is your superpower. So, lace up those sneakers, crank up the tunes, and let’s dance with the treadmill.

Cardio? Oh, we’re amping it up! Picture yourself chasing seagulls – except these seagulls are your fitness goals.  And strength training? That’s your secret weapon. You’re sculpting those glutes and thighs like a Michelangelo of the beach.

Speaking of glutes, let’s talk about the gluteus maximus – the Beyoncé of muscles.  It’s the one that makes heads turn when you sashay across the sand. So, lunges, squats, and booty kicks – they’re your VIP passes to the Glute Maximus Concert.

And your diet? Cleaner than a seashell washed ashore. Whole foods, water (hydration is your BFF), and a firm “no” to junk food, soda, and alcohol.

Remember, these lifestyle shifts? They’re not just results; they’re lasting transformations. So, strut your stuff, rock that two-piece, and let the beach be your runway.

Below are six of the best butt exercises that will tone your tush into one you can be proud to show off.

Top 6 Best Butt Exercises

Best Butt Exercise #1: Incline Treadmill Walking and Running

women doing cardio
elliptical works the glutes too!

Ok, muscleheads like me don’t count cardio as an “exercise.” It’s cardo.  But the added incline makes it more than just straight cardio.

Whether you prefer taking a brisk walk or an intense run on the treadmill, this is a great way to shape your booty as well as help burn excess fat. Think of the added incline as an upgrade to your usual walk and run routine. This walk is perfect for a treadmill or a natural incline on a hill. While walking is an excellent choice for helping torch calories and shedding unwanted pounds, running adds an explosive element that can help improve your glutes.

No one likes weak and flabby backside. Getting out there and challenging your body is tough, but you will thank yourself when you fill out those jeans in all the right places. Not only will you look better from behind with a more developed booty, but those glutes help support a strong back during resistance training and day-to-day activities.

Make sure to do a version of these excellent cardio-based exercises for at least thirty minutes three-five times per week. If you can, you should incorporate both running and walking into each cardio session. If running irritates pre-existing injuries, you will still get most of the benefit from walking at a brisk pace.  The elliptical is a fine substitute too.

What’s a brisk pace? On average it is about 4mph at a 5% or steeper incline for trainees age 20-45 in good health and average height.

Pro Tip: Many trainees injure themselves by pushing too hard on cardio. Going faster usually does not burn more body fat. Perhaps it burns more calories, but it does not eliminate stored body fat better. For all my years in the gym, the women going to the high-intensity cardio classes only get fatter. As far as fat burning goes, slow and steady wins the race. Going faster does not necessarily help. Even starting with a less steep incline can produce excellent results. Read more of my posts about fat burning and optimal cardio intensity.

Best Butt Exercise #2: Banded Shuffles

Performing this exercise will surely get your heart rate where it should be, and tone your glutes. The abductors are muscles that running alongside the outside of your tush, and do not underestimate their importance! The abductors worked in this exercise include both the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus.

To perform this exercise, you will need to purchase an elastic sports band.  Pull the elastic band around the lower part of your legs – below the knees and above the calves. Start by standing up straight with your feet together.  Squat down until your butt is parallel to the floor, and push one leg out until your legs are about twice your hip-width apart.  Call it a wide horse-riding stance.  When in this position, you will take 5-10 steps to the right; and then back to the left.

So, you are essentially combining the abductor machine with a squat here.  Michelle in the video above holds a barbell on her back for added resistance.

Best Butt Exercise #3: Hip Lifts

One of the best exercises that works your glutes is the hip lift. Other people call them hip thusts.  I don’t.

Barbell hip lifts are probably the most popular glute exercise in the gym. Let’s dive into the benefits specifically for females:

  1. Glute Strength and Size: Barbell hip lifts target the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius in a unique way.  It’s a great way to overload the glutes with musch lesser impact on the lower back and knees as compared to squats and stiff leg deadlifts.
  2. Progressive Overload: The barbell hip lift allows you to work with significant weight, which is crucial for progressive overload. As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the load, leading to muscle growth and improved strength.
  3. Posterior Chain Activation: Unlike some exercises, hip tlifts work your posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, and lower back) without putting excessive stress on your lumbar spine. This makes them effective for overall lower body development.
  4. Core Stabilization: Hip lifts engage your core to maintain balance and stability during the movement. A strong core is essential for functional fitness and injury prevention.
  5. Variations: You can progress from body weight hip thrusts to using a barbell. Additionally, there are variations like single-leg hip lifts and different foot placements to keep things interesting.

Start with body weight and gradually add weight as you become more comfortable. Incorporate weighted hip lifts into your routine, and watch those glutes fill out!

To perform this exercise, begin by lying down with your back flat to the floor and bent knees. Be sure to keep your arms to your sides. Next, lift your butt and lower part of your back off the floor, and hold that position for several seconds. Then lower your back into the starting position. The static hold will help to strengthen and isolate the glutes. To increase the challenge, you could also lift one of your legs in the air.

The advanced form is the gym method, propping your upper back on a bench or ball and with a weight or barbell across your lap.  It is not uncommon for girls to use 135 lbs. of weight or more on this lift. The video shows Elaina performing this lift using the smith machine, which I prefer.

Best Butt Exercise #4: Pile Squats

The plié squat is the best when it comes to shaping your glutes. It not only builds more toned legs and bum, but it improves stability, balance, and posture. The core stabilizers that keep those elegant shoulders upright get a great workout from this movement. Sometimes called the sumo squat, plié squats are also the perfect choice to hit those hard-to-target inner thighs and driving through the heels works the glute-hamstring tie-in.

You begin this exercise with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Point your toes away at a 90° angle as if you were a ballerina. Keep your arms in front of your body to help keep your balance. In this position, squat down to the ground until your upper thighs are parallel with the floor and reverse motion to the standing position. It is perfectly normal to feel a nice stretch here, but there should be no sharp pain doing this movement.
At the top, squeeze the glutes and thrust the hips forward slightly. 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps produce the best results.

Do not be afraid to use a little weight if you would like to up the resistance. In the video, Michelle is holding a dumbbell in goblet squat form for more of a challenge. For many clients, I add 2.5 lb. plates under the client’s heels. Michelle’s ankles are very flexible, and she finds the plates distracting. Try it with and without the lift under your heels to find the best option for your ankle mobility.

Best Butt Exercise #5: Gluteal Hyperextensions

This exercise uses the back extension bench with a slight twist to focus on rounding, lifting and toning the butt. This is one of my trade secrets. Any fool can use the hyperextension bench as designed to work the lower back. We want even more out of this awesome piece of equipment. You can build great hamstrings that truly give those glutes a killer look in a pair of jeans with the correct approach.

Approach the machine as you would usually for a low back exercise. This time, lower the bench until your hip joint is slightly higher than the bench. Tuck your chin to your chest, round your upper back, and contract your upper hamstring and glute tie-in. You will maintain this posture throughout the exercise.

The gluteal hyperextensions work through a shorter range of motion and keep the resistance right underneath that target area. This movement will eliminate the “underbutt” double crease and perfect the lower glute shape. 3-4 sets of 20 reps make an effective dose of this booty builder. The glutes need a higher rep count, than say, the biceps. They are also able to recover at a moderately high rate. This recovery speed means you can train glutes somewhere between 2 and 6 times per week.  When in doubt, less is more!

The glutes and lower body muscles also have a higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers that respond better to higher reps. Go ahead and perform this movement with a weight in hands if you can maintain the mind-muscle connection.

Best Butt Exercise #6: Lunges

Lunges are fantastic because they target your glutes, hips, legs, and thighs. It is a simple exercise that requires you to put one foot in front of the other as far as you can while maintaining stability. Then you will lower your entire body straight down, dropping your rear knee to the ground. So don’t let your knee go past your toes.  Step forward, then squat straight down.

If you find walking lunges hurt your knees, you might opt for a backwards or lateral lunge. Using a TRX or similar suspension triners will help you control the range of motion, balance and pressure on your joints.

How to do a lateral lunge: Use the same starting position standing tall with feet hip-width apart. Now, you will take a big step out to the side and bend the knee of your stepping leg. Push those hips back and lower your stepping leg until your knee reaches 90°. Return to the starting position and repeat the movement on the opposite side. The same scheme of 12-15 reps per set is perfect for a lateral lunge.

In any variation, be sure to keep your torso as vertical as you can. After each rep, return to the starting position and repeat the movement with the opposite leg. Complete about 15 reps per leg or more depending on how toasty your legs feel after a set. For walking or stationary lunges you can hold a barbell across your back or a dumbbell in each hand to increase intensity.  Erin makes it look fun, but it shouldn’t be.

You should suffer for your beauty!

best butt exercises
Jena before and after

With these exercises, your butt will DEFINITELY be ready for the upcoming swimsuit season! Not only that, but your entire body will look better from doing these exercises as well! It will require grit and dedication, but those results are well worth the work. It is my firm recommendation that you also train your upper body and abs with the same focus you give to glutes.

It ain’t gonna happen overnight, but if you are willing to stick to a plan to improve your body then now is the right time to book a consultation with me, Los Angeles best personal trainer.   Give me a call or send me an email today to we can create the perfect fitness routine for your goals. It will be specially customized to suit your needs in order to get you in the body that you desire as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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