3 BEST BUTT EXERCISES THAT AREN’T BACK SQUATS

Glutes. Booty. Butt. Donk. 

Whatever you want to call it… we seem to be all about it and today’s post is dedicated to help you target and sculpt your glute muscles.

Targeting my glutes has always been a top goal (and probably forever will be). Over the years, I’ve found what movements really work, which ones are so so, and the ones that just plain stink… other than making for a “cool” Instagram video haha (you know which ones I’m talking about!)

GLUTES VS. LEGS

We can’t talk about training the glutes without mentioning the leg muscles. Glutes are the muscles that are in the buttocks region. It is plural because there is actually more than one glute muscle: 3 to be exact… gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimum. While one would think you could isolate these glute muscles, every muscle that works the butt also incorporates assistance from the leg muscles. In fact, many “glute exercises” actually primarily work the leg muscles and recruit the glutes as a secondary.

The leg muscles I’m referring to most are the quadriceps (front of the legs) and hamstrings (back of the legs). Here’s a little secret that took me far too long to learn myself… the best way to train your glutes is to focus on training your legs and strategically add in glute-focused movements.

For this reason, I am sharing not just 3 of the best butt exercises but 6 in total: 3 less common, isolated movements that I suggest adding in at the very beginning or end of a leg workout to emphasize the glutes as well as 3 common, compound movements. Compound movements are those that will recruit both the leg and glute muscles.

GLUTE TRAINING MUSTS

PRE-EXHAUST: if you’ve trained with me for some time and followed my plans or challenges, you know this is one of my signature training techniques. We almost always start a gluts-focused workout off with a pre-exhaust. This is simply a few isolated glute exercises completed with little to no weight at the beginning of a leg workout. Starting the workout off this way will cause the glutes to fatigue early on, creating a deeper muscle breakdown (a good thing!) thought the workout =glute progress

BURN OUT/DROP SETS: because the glutes are often harder to fatigue because the leg muscles will take over, I like to add in burn out sets and drop sets. I complete burn out sets at the end of my leg workout by performing movements (with little to no weight again) to failure (or almost failure). For example, I’ll do as many jump squats as possible. I also like to complete drop sets in which with every set, I’ll decrease the weight and complete as many sets until I fatigue.

HEAVY WEIGHT: the reason I mention we should focus on training legs is for this point! During a leg workout, we must progressively train by increasing the weight as we can from week to week. This does wonders for the glutes. All lower body exercises will target both the legs and glutes, so going heavy/pushing yourself on leg day is some of the best booty training we can do.

HIGH REPS: when I complete the less common, isolated movements, I like to train with higher rep ranges. This compliments the slightly lower rep ranges and heavier weight used for more common, compound exercises.

TOP 3 LESS COMMON, ISOLATED MOVEMENTS:

These 3 exercises are common but “less commonly” associated with being the “best butt workouts.” I find these 3 to be highly effective at targeting and sculpting the backside.

1. HYPEREXTENSIONS + REVERSE HYPEREXTENSIONS: these are commonly thought of as lower back exercises, but they also target the “top” region of the glutes, which is why I love them. Be careful not to overextend with both of these movements. I also find this exercise is most effective using just body weight and working through the move very slowly.

2. GLUTE BRIDGES: glute bridges are an incredibly versatile workout with so many variations. You can elevate your upper body on a bench/ball. You can elevate your feet on a bench/step. You can complete it flat on the floor. You can use your body weight, a barbell, a plate, a kettle bell or dumbbells for resistance. All of these variations are why I think it’s one of the best butt movements because often the “best” movement has to do with your body mechanics and how a movement feels. All of these tweaks give you the opportunity to see which allows you you to feel the movement most.  

3. CABLE KICKBACKS: I like to perform this movement on a cable machine at the gym. If you’re working out at home, you can easily substitute in a resistance band. I sometimes stand more upright, sometimes lean forward more, sometimes bend in the knee more, sometimes keep my leg stiffer. Lots of great variations here too!

ToP 3 COMMON, COMPOUND MOVEMENTS:

I couldn’t complete this post without mentioning these 3 compound movements. I can’t stress enough that the best butt workouts are those that are traditional weight training leg movements like those listed below. 

1. SPLIT SQUATS: I feel this more in the glutes more than any other movement, which is why I had to add it to the list. I complete this movement in two ways: slow and controlled like a traditional rep and pulsing the movement completing partial reps.

2. WALKING LUNGES: we all know about walking lunges but I have one tip that turns this exercise into a glute-focused movement. When you’re in the lunge position and about to push up to step forward with your back foot, lean slightly forward instead of keeping your upper body completely upright. As you do so, push though the heel and feel that glute engage.

 

3. DEADLIFTS: deadlifts of any variation are great for the glutes, but my personal favorite is the sumo deadlift. Not only does a sumo deadlift work the entire body and butt, but it’s also really great at targeting those stubborn inner thighs.

WHY NOT SQUATS?

Oh, squats are great too! They’re definitely a staple, but in my opinion, they get so much attention that we often forget about other great movements too This was simply my attempt to highlight other (non squat) exercises that are great for the glutes! 

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