How To Build A Better Butt – The 3 Best Butt Exercises To Accentuate Your Physique

When did it all happen? When did having a big butt change from being a thing to avoid to being a thing that is worshipped?

Not that I have a problem with it…

In fact, I’m celebrating it because this is a time for women to get back to embracing their curves, embracing their femininity, and embracing that you are beautiful no matter what shape or size you are.

Now, let me make this clear. This is about health first. If you are in a physical state to where your weight (or lack thereof) is dangerous and contributing to health challenges, then your focus needs to be on getting healthy first; far before worrying about how your butt will look in a tight dress.

To help address overall health and to take care of your body the way that it deserves, start with these powerful free resources from my #1 ranked health show: The 5 Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes and 8 Foods To Avoid At All Cost will be extremely helpful in getting you going with real, unstoppable momentum.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the bottom of this better butt situation. No pun intended 🙂

Working with so many women over the years, it was a common theme for them to want to improve their waist-to-hip ratio (aka shrink their waist without losing their butt… or, better yet, add on to the booty circumference overall). This is actually a great thing where your health is concerned. After compiling data from numerous studies, The World Health Organization has confirmed that measuring your waist-to-hip ratio is an excellent marker for your risk of chronic disease.

To get your waist-to-hip ratio simply follow these steps:

  1. Get a soft tape measurer (one that would be used by a tailor, for example).
  2. Measure your waist right at your navel (or slightly above if you have high hip bones – you should not be putting the tape around bones to measure your waist). Pull the tape snug, but not so tight that it’s cutting off circulation. Record that number.
  3. Measure your hips/butt at the widest point. Record that number.
  4. Take the waist measurement and divide it by the hip measurement to get your current waist-to-hip ratio. For example, if the waist measurement is 33 and the hip measurement is 42. It would be 33/42 = .786

According to The National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, women with a waist–to-hip ratio of more than 0.8, and men with more than 1.0, are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution.

This means a greater incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity related illnesses according to the research.

Obviously, these are not very attractive conditions, and things that can be significantly avoided by sliming down your waistline, and, yes, building a better butt.

Step one to creating a phenomenal waist-to-hip ratio is targeting that problematic belly fat by following my Waist Reduction Quick Start Plan right here.

Step two is utilizing specific exercises and body hacks to build your butt to the most impressive level possible – i.e. sculpt your own onion booty – you know, a booty that will make your admirers cry 😉

Hands down, these are the 3 best butt exercises that you’ll ever need. Do them right, along with the other recommendations, and even Beyonce will be compelled to induct you into the bootylicious hall of fame. -> Side note: I can’t believe my spell check acknowledged that bootylicious is a word. Wow, the world really has changed… On to the booty exercises!

1. Walking Weighted Lunges (with a slightly longer stride)

Lunges are great for your butt, but if the lunge is too short, then it becomes a quad dominant exercise. Said differently, if you step too short then more of the work shifts to your quadriceps (the big muscles in the front of your legs).

It’s not just about what you do, it’s how you do it. When doing your lunges, extend that leg out a little further so that it’s right at 90 degrees when you reach the bottom of your lunge. Remember to stay nice and tall and keep your chest up during the exercise.

The Key: Focus on your front leg driving you up from the bottom of each lunge and SQUEEZE that glute to really make it fire. Energy flows where attention goes. It’s important for you to focus on the muscle that you want to activate because many people have sleepy buns that need to be consciously engaged to work better.

How much and how often: Ideally you’ll be able to add some weights to your walking lunges. If you can’t do 30 reps straight (15 each leg, alternating, with no pauses in between them) then practice with your body weight first. The truth is, the fast twitch muscle fibers in your glutes really respond well to the additional weight (I talk about the benefits of training your various muscle fibers right here). This is your ideal range:

3 sets of 20 reps (10 each leg alternating) with a pair of 20 pound dumbbells in your hands – 90 seconds of rest between sets. Do this 1 to 2 times a week with at least 2 days rest in between (example: Monday and Friday or just Mondays).

Note: If you feel that you can do more than 20 reps without breaking form on the last set, then the weight is too light, and you need to up it a bit to build that butt up faster.

Video example without weights

Video example with weights

2. Wide Stance Barbell Squats

Look, you can do flashy, trendy butt exercises like donkey kicks until people are actually convinced that you are, in fact, a donkey. But that won’t take away from the fact that following the tried and true exercises like the squat (done correctly) will get you there light years faster. Do you want to take a spaceship to get to your destination or do you want to ride that donkey from Shrek?

The barbell squat won’t just help with building a miraculous derriere, it will also help you to stay younger, longer. This is one of the few exercises that gives you a tremendous boost in your human growth hormone (youth hormone) production, so this is why we love it more than most other booty exercises.

Now, the same holds true for the squat, it’s not just what you do, but how you do it that makes all the difference in the world. By taking a wider stance, with your toes pointed out, you will automatically engage more of the glute muscles that you’re trying to hit.

Place the bar comfortably on your traps/back of your shoulders and pick the bar up off the rack. Step back, step your feet out just wider than your hips, and point your toes out slightly. To initiate the squat, your first movement should be pushing your hips back NOT bending at your knees. Many people initiate their squat by bending at their knees and end up over-extending their knees forward 1) making the exercise more quad dominant and 2) putting themselves in a compromised position that increases their risk of injury. So, push your hips back first, then bend your knees as you lower yourself down to the bottom of your squat. Keep your head up and chest up throughout the entire movement.

The Key: Put total focus on contracting the glutes on the concentric portion of the exercise. When you are standing up from the bottom of the squat, really think about squeezing those glutes to make them completely fire and engage during the exercise. Let your butt relax a bit while lowering down, then squeeze and fire those bad boys when you stand up each and every time.

How much and how often: Make sure that your weight is heavy enough that doing more than 10 reps is a big, big challenge. 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps – 2 mins rest between sets. Do this once a week right before doing your walking lunges.

Do it safe, do it smart, and really challenge yourself here. Use weights that are too light, and you’ll likely end up wasting a lot of time in building that majestic butt you’re striving for.

Note: This version of the squat is probably the only barbell exercise that I’d say it’s ok to use the Smith Machine as an alternative. The Smith Machine is a squat rack with hooks that basically holds the weight in position for you. Remember, the key is consciously making those muscle fire!

Video example (This is great, but go a little bit deeper than the woman in this video!)

3. Hip Thrust and Weighted Hip Thrust

This is one of those exercises where most people will feel their glutes working even when they aren’t using the conscious activation that we’ve been talking about. This is a great exercise to really help encourage glute activation for buns that have been asleep for far too long (aka Sleeping Booty).

Also, this is a fantastic butt building exercise in it’s own right. It’s simple to do no matter what level you’re at because there are beginner, intermediate, and advanced versions.

The glute bridge is the beginner exercise. You can see it in action in the video below. It’s done simply by lying on your back, feet flat on the floor a little wider than your hips, and pushing your hips up off the floor squeezing your glutes as you elevate. Lift your hips up until your body is nice and straight from your knees to your shoulders. Lower your hips slowly and repeat.

The intermediate version is the hip thrust (demonstrated in the video below as well). You’ll need a bench or a similar alternative for this one. Sit on the floor with the bench directly behind you, sit back so that your upper back touches the bench and have your feet planted firmly in front of you – shoulder distance apart. Leaning back onto the bench, raise your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees (full hip extension), and then slowly descend back to the ground. Again, focus on squeezing and really firing those glutes, and it’s as seamless as that.

The advanced version is simply adding some weight while doing the hip thrust. You can hold a couple of dumbbells on your hips, or place a barbell across your hips while doing the exercise. This is where you get the most bang for your buck. But, only after you’ve mastered the first two versions.

The Key: Your hip level is critical here. Don’t raise high enough, and you’re not fully activating your glutes. Go too high, and you’re over-extending unnecessarily and hyperextending your spine. The sweet spot is to get to the place where your body is totally in line from your shoulders to your knees, and maybe over-extended just a tad bit to make sure that you’ve got it all.

How much and how often: 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps – 60 seconds of rest between sets. Do this 1 to 2 times a week (after doing your lunges) with at least 2 days rest between (example: Monday and Friday or just Mondays).

Note: If you can do the hip thrust for more than 15 reps without any weight, then you definitely need to add in the dumbbells or the barbell to make it more challenging. It’s about the quality, not quantity!

Video example

One more little bonus tip that you likely won’t hear anywhere else is that all the butt exercises in the world won’t make much difference if your hip position itself is out of alignment. What I mean by this is that some people have a tilted hip position that causes their hips to sink in under them. This is called a posterior pelvic tilt. You need to address this first or you’ll be building a nice butt that’s under you instead of behind you.

In all seriousness, posterior pelvic tilt is caused by muscle imbalances that often relate to sitting for long hours leaning back or in a hunched position. One of the first fixes of the posterior pelvic tilt is to remove the cause of the muscle imbalances by being more active during the day and not sitting as much using the strategies right here.

The 3 butt building exercises we’ve covered will help with this as well, but there are some simple mobility exercises that you’ll want to do daily to “retrain” your body to set the proper hip position. They are the cobra pose, the periformis stretch (figure 4 stretch), and then foam rolling the glutes (or using a medicine ball). All of these exercises have videos along with them, so if you realize you have a posterior pelvic tilt, start with these.

With all of these exercises in your possession, and the little tips and tricks to make them more effective, you’ll be on your way to creating an impressive butt in no time. Please let me know your biggest takeaway or ah-ha moments from this in the comments section below, and be sure to share this with your friends!

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  • Jelisa Scotton
    19 May 2015, 12:00 pm

    Great article Shawn! I usually do these exercises in my leg day routines, but I do tend to neglect the hip thrusts = However, it’s great to read that I’m performing and teaching the most effective exercises from an expert like you !!

    Reply
    • Shawn
      19 May 2015, 7:39 pm

      You rock, Jelisa! Thank you!

      Reply
  • Yasset
    29 Jun 2015, 5:05 pm

    Love the article, as usual. What I love most is that you have videos to show us the actual move or exercise. Thank you.
    Btw, will you be adding a pinterest link anytime soon?

    Reply