How to Build a Better Booty: 10 Easy Steps (with Pictures)

Written by Stefanie Lisa

Build a Better Booty

Throughout history, there has been an obsession with the ability to build a better booty. It seems we all want our rear ends to be tighter, firmer, higher, and rounder. But, is this something that can be done without squatting? Well, the answer may surprise you.

Turns out, there are many other exercises you can do that will get you that coveted Kardashian-esque or Chris Hemsworth-y booty. Read on to find out how.

What Do We Mean by “Booty”?

Before we get into how to build a better booty, it may be helpful to share exactly what muscles make up a booty, so you can have a better understanding when it comes to working it properly.

The scientific term for “booty” is actually the gluteal muscles. You may have thought the buttocks were just one big muscle, but in actuality, the booty is comprised of three separate gluteus muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus.

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Gluteus Maximus—is the largest of the three muscles and helps with moving your upper body forward, such as standing from a seated position, running, walking, lunging, or stepping up onto something. This muscle helps straighten your legs from a seated (or squat) position. This is usually the muscle most folks are referring to when they mention “glutes,” although the term “glutes” can also encompass all three muscles.

Gluteus Medius—this set of muscles resides on the pelvic bones and assists with your ability to walk. It is also used when you lift your leg and rotate it out to the side.

Gluteus Minimus—this muscle is situated under the gluteus medius and also helps with hip extension.

What Doesn’t Work to Build a Better Booty

While you’re undoubtedly excited to learn how to build your glutes, it may be easier to go over some of the misconceptions about what doesn’t work when it comes to building up and rounding out your butt. These two things will not help you bring out that booty!

  1. Doing extra cardio—this will not necessarily help you build a bigger, rounder, more gravity-defying butt. That said, you don’t want to neglect your cardio workouts either, because a low level of body fat can help you better reveal all your hard work in the glute area.
  2. Spot reducing/spot building—you may be tempted to try to just work your glute muscles to get rid of body fat and shape your booty, but that’s just not how it works.

    When you burn fat, your body takes and burns it from all over the body, not just in the areas you’d like to reduce. Having a shapely backside will require that your entire body fat levels be in check. And, you will also need to do resistance training to achieve the elusive bigger booty.

What Does Work to Build a Better Booty?

So, now that you know what doesn’t work, here’s what does work!

  • Keep your range of repetitions between 6 and 10. More repetitions is not going to help you build more bulk; it will only help in the endurance department. Less repetitions will help build strength, but then again, it’s not strength you’re necessarily going after in this endeavor. So, staying in a range that’s challenging, but not exhausting, will help you build a better booty.
  • Mix it up—a lot. Trying different exercises and hitting your glutes from different angles will help you better activate and develop the muscles.
  • Always have a strategy. This means have your workouts planned in advance. Follow a set regimen that has you working your body in a strategic way to best boost your muscle building in the glute area. Don’t do back-to-back glute workouts. Make sure to rest the areas you worked for at least a day or two before hitting them hard again.

Try These 10 Exercises to Build a Better Booty

Do you have to do squats to build a better booty? The answer is no. There are many other great exercises you can use to work your booty. Pick 3 – 5 different exercises and aim for 3 sets of each, using the rep range of 6 – 10. Make sure to give your muscles a rest in between workouts, so alternate days to mix it up and challenge your glutes like never before.

Try these exercises to help strengthen, tighten, shape, and build those coveted glutes:

Step Up Butt Exercise

Step-Ups—step onto a high, stable surface. This can be performed with or without additional weight in your hands. From a standing position with feet hip-width apart, step up onto a box, bench, or platform with your right foot. Push through your heel to lift your body up onto the step. Step back down slowly with your right foot and repeat on the opposite side.

Glute Bridge

Glute Bridge—you may see some folks doing these in your local gym. Also known as a “hip-lift,” you begin by lying on your back with your arms straight by your sides. With your feet flat on the ground, your knees bent, and your abs tight, slowly lift your hips off the floor and squeeze your glutes while pressing your hips toward the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds, and return hips slowly to the ground. Repeat. For an additional challenge and to activate your inner thighs as well, you can hold a medicine ball between your knees.

Hip Abduction Exercise

Hip Abduction Machine—you know those “inner and outer thigh” machines? Those can be helpful for building your glutes as well. The one to focus on is the abduction machine. Begin by sitting in the seat with your legs together, feet on the footpads, and the pads on the outside of your thighs. Adjust the weight to find something you can move just 6 – 10 times. Press your legs outward to the sides to engage your glute muscles. Pause when you’ve gone as far as you can and return to the start. Repeat for 6 – 10 reps.

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Butt Blaster Kickback—this exercise can be done on a cable machine at the gym. Cuff your ankle to the cable pulley system (in low position). Stand with your hands either at your sides or gripping the machine, lift your right leg (keeping it straight) and move it backwards as far as you comfortably can. Hold the position for a few seconds and squeeze your glutes. Return to the start. It’s easiest to complete 10 repetitions on one side and then switch to the opposite leg.

Lying Side Leg Lift

Lying Side Leg Lifts—while lying on your side with your legs straight and both knees facing forward, lift your top leg up toward the ceiling (while keeping it straight). Pause at the top of the movement, and then return to the start. Do 10 repetitions, and then switch positions and repeat for the opposite side. You can experiment with facing your knee slightly more upward or outward to see how it activates different areas of the glutes.

Forward Lunge with Weight—from a standing position while holding a 5-lb dumbbell (or a weight that allows for just 6 – 10 lunges) in each hand, step forward with your right leg (a large step) and bend both your knees until they each form a 90-degree angle with your front knee facing forward and your back knee facing down. Pause and then push off through your right heel, bringing it back in line with your rear leg to return to the standing position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Build a Better Booty

Walking Lunge—you can do this with or without weight. Some folks prefer to simply put their hands on their hips. Take a large step forward with your right leg, bending at the knees until your legs form a 90-degree angle. Pushing up through your front heel, propel yourself forward to a standing position by straightening both legs and bringing the left (rear) leg forward. Repeat on the opposite side. Continue lunging on each side as you “walk” the length of a room.

Backward Lunge—also effective, and maybe even better at targeting the glutes than other lunges, this can be done by beginning in a standing position with your hands on your hips. Lift your right leg and move it behind you while bending your left leg. When your left (front) leg forms a 90-degree angle, place your right foot on the floor. Return to standing position and repeat on opposite side.

Side Lunge

Side Lunge—again, begin in a standing position with feet together or hip-width apart. With your hands at your waist, use your right leg to take a giant step out to your right side, keeping your knee and toes facing forward, but at a slight outward angle. Bend your right knee while leaning forward slightly to get to the lunge position. Push up through your right heel to return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

Grand Plie Booty Exercise

Grand Plié—this traditional ballet move packs a lot more punch than you‘d expect. With feet a little wider than hip-width apart (second position), rotate your legs out at the hips, so your toes point outward. With your hands on your hips, or out to the sides if you’re in ballerina-mode, slowly bend your knees, taking care not to let your knees bend more than 90 degrees (don’t let your knees go past your toes). Hold for a count of three and return to the standing position. Repeat.

Many of these exercises can be done at home or with minimal equipment. Some of the others may require access to certain equipment available at most fitness facilities, so no matter where you are, you should be able to get in a solid booty workout. Also, don’t be afraid to branch out and try some group classes like Booty Boot Camps and Brazilian Booty Camps.

Your Guide to a Better Booty: A Recap

So, there you have it… another myth busted! You can build a better booty without squats. Now it’s your turn to get in the gym and see what you can do. Remember, this is important stuff—you’ve never heard any rap songs about flat butts, have you?

Bonus Tip: Protein Helps Build a Better Booty

In order to build strong or lean muscles, it is crucial to make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet. Whether you are trying to get a stronger core, fight off arm flab or build a better booty, maintaining the right level of protein in your diet is key.

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References

  • Contreras B, Vigotsky AD, Schoenfeld BJ, Beardsley C, Cronin J. A comparison of gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, and vastus lateralis electromyographic activity in the back squat and barbell hip thrust exercises. Journal of Applied Biomechanics. 2015 Dec;31(6):452-8.
  • Youdas JW, Adams KE, Bertucci JE, Brooks KJ, Nelson MM, Hollman JH. Muscle activation levels of the gluteus maximus and medius during standing hip-joint-strengthening exercises using elastic-tubing resistance. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 2014 Feb;23(1):1-1.
  • Struminger AH. A comparison of gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings activation during five commonly used plyometric exercises (Doctoral dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).