Squats aren't the only exercise for your glutes (though they're certainly effective). Here are 17 of the best exercises you can do for your backside.
Make your booty one of your best assets. Your backside can be one of the most challenging areas to tone and sculpt, but never fear! We've got a booty-firming workout you can implement at home, the gym, a park or just about anywhere. If you do all of the exercises listed, you'll want to start with the lower number of suggested reps. But watch and learn, and then try these — you're sure to feel your booty burn (and take on a great shape)!
1. Lying Hip Raise
Ease yourself into your workout with this warm-up move. With little to no impact, you'll engage your quads and hamstrings and focus on your glutes at the top of the move.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on the floor or a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keep your feet hip-width apart. On the inhale, drive through the heels of your feet and slowly lift yourself up into a bridge, starting with the tailbone and curling your spine off the floor one vertebrae at a time. Lift all the way up into bridge and hold for a couple of seconds. On the exhale, lower back down, vertebrae by vertebrae, until the tailbone reaches the floor. Start with 10 reps and work up to as many as 30.
2. Pelvic Tilt
Firm your tush while waking up your pelvic floor muscles. And this exercise may also help prevent prolapse in women as they age. But this isn't a rapid-fire pelvic tilt. In order to engage and strengthen your booty, do this move slowly and with control.
HOW TO DO IT: Start lying on your back and come into a low bridge with the glutes and lower back off the floor (your upper back remains on the floor) with feet hip-width apart. Slowly tilt your pelvis so that your tailbone tilts up to the ceiling without allowing the lower back to come down to the floor. Return to a neutral pelvis and repeat for 10 to 30 reps.
3. Barbell Hip Raise
Take the first exercise in this workout and really amp it up with this variation. You'll need a workout bench and a barbell with weight plates ranging from 15 to 25 pounds each. Barbell hip raises isolate the glutes and engage your abdominals, too.
HOW TO DO IT: With your shoulder blades propped up on a bench, hold the barbell across the top of your hips (feel free to use a towel to pad the hip bones). With an overhand grip on the barbell, start with your tush hovering an inch off the floor. Engage your core and drive through the heels to lift your hips to just above knee height (if possible). Then slowly lower your glutes back to their hovering position and repeat. Do 10 to 30 reps.
4. Squat Thrust
Squats are the single best exercise for you booty. But this variation also get your heart pumping (in a good way).
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank position — abs engaged, inner thighs and glutes engaged and heels pressed back. Then jump the feet to the hands and launch yourself straight up. As you're in the air, separate your feet so you land with them just wider than mat width. Land in a squat, then place both hands back on the floor as you jump back into a plank. Repeat for 10 to 20 reps.
Read more: 12 Essential Squat Variations to Try
5. Squat Jack
Keep your heart rate up with this next exercise. Moving from standing to a twisted crouched position not only works your glutes, it engages your oblique muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Start standing with your legs together and hands at your sides. Engage your core and jump your feet out to the sides. At the same time, crouch down into a twisted squat and touch the right hand down to the floor near your left foot. Jump back up to an upright stance and repeat, switching hands and sides. Do 10 to 20 reps.
6. Speed Skater
Channel your inner Olympian with this cardio and agility drill. This exercise works the glutes, arms, outer thighs and obliques. Plus, it'll get your heart rate up.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand on one end of a mat and jump the left foot out wide to the left as you swing the right foot back behind the grounded leg. At the same time, swing your arms so they are opposite to the feet. So if your left foot is grounded, your right arm swings forward toward that foot, and vice versa. Do 10 to 20 reps.
7. Frog Jump
Take a note from the animal kingdom on this move. Similar to simple, traditional jump squats, frog jumps engage your glutes, quads and calves, as well as challenge your core stability.
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a low squat with your feet turned out to 10 and 2 o'clock. Take your hands to the floor between the feet (in a frog stance). As you jump up, let the arms and feet relax. When you land, take it back down to a low frog squat with the hands on the floor. Repeat for 10 to 20 reps.
8. Diamond Jump
Just like diamonds are a girl's best friend, this move will be your booty's best friend. Named for the diamond shape both your arms and legs make during this exercise, this booty burner will also open your hips.
HOW TO DO IT: Start with your feet shoulder-distance apart and your arms by your sides. Engage your core and swing your arms forward as you jump straight up. Your palms should face each other overhead, and your arms should be bent at the elbows with fingertips touching (diamond shape). Your knees turn out and bend with the soles of your feet touching to make the diamond shape with your legs. Land with feet facing forward at hip width and repeat. Do about 10 to 30 reps.
Read more: 5 Moves to Build a Better Backside
9. Vertical Jump
Remember those days as a kid when your PE teacher would ask, "How high can you jump?" The truth is, jumping causes your glutes and the rest of your leg muscles to fire, sculpting them at the same time.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your knees slightly bent with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. Engage your abdominals and crouch down slightly. Swing your arms and jump up. Jump high enough to straighten your legs. As you land, put a soft bend in your knees and repeat immediately. Keep your toes pointed forward with the knees aligned to your second toe (next to the big toe) to protect the knees. Do between 10 and 30 reps.
10. Plié Squat
Sculpt the backside of a ballerina with the plié squat. It's excellent for activating the lower glute and inner-thigh muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet wide apart (about three feet, depending on your height) and turned out. Tuck your tailbone under and engage your lower-abdominal muscles. Make sure your feet are wide enough so that when you come all the way down your knees end up just over the ankles. As you lower, bring your arms in front of you for balance. Don't arch your lower back and keep your torso straight throughout the squat. Repeat the squat 10 to 30 times.
Read more: 3 Moves for a Strong and Toned Lower Body
11. Assisted Pistol Squat
You'll really challenge your balance and lower-body strength with this one! But you can also modify as you build up your strength. This squat variation works the quads, glutes and calves.
HOW TO DO IT: Holding a rope, TRX attachment or other prop without elasticity as an anchor, stand on one leg. Extend the opposite leg out in front of you. Slowly and with control, lower down into a single-leg squat. Keep the bent knee directly over the ankle. As you lower, keep your free leg from touching the floor so that when your glutes touch the floor (or come close), your free leg is hovering parallel just a couple of inches above the floor. Slowly rise up, driving through the heel of the bent leg, keeping the knee and shin from coming too far forward. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps on each side.
12. Biceps Curl Goblet Squat
This variation on the traditional goblet squat takes an already intensified squat to a whole new level. You'lll work deep into your gluteal muscles and legs and challenge your core and arms.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in a plié stance (feet two to three feet apart and turned out) and hold a kettlebell or dumbbell at chest level. Engaging your ab muscles, squat down as low as you can. While centered, do a double-arm biceps curl with the weight, touching the weight to the floor and bringing it back to your chest. Don't use momentum to lift the weight: Instead, decrease the weight if necessary. Stand up and repeat. Do 10 to 20 reps or as many as possible without losing proper form.
Read more: 9 Fat-Torching Kettlebell Moves
13. Dumbbell Sumo Squat
Tone and shape your booty for you the rock-hard glutes you want. These squats are basically a modified goblet squat. But rather than one large dumbbell held at the center of your chest as with goblet squats, you'll use two dumbbells (one in each hand).
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet slightly turned out and about two to three feet apart. Hold the dumbbells at one end with each hand so they dangle. Engage your core and slowly squat down, taking your seat as low as you can without shifting your weight forward. Keep the weight focused in the heels of your feet. Come all the way down until the ends of the dumbbells tap the ground, then drive through your heels to return to standing. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
14. Side Lunge
Take a quick break from squats for this exercise. The side lunge will continue to engage the glute and quad muscles from a different angle, offering a bit of a variation to the muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Standing with feet together, step your right foot out wide to the side. Shift your body weight to the right leg and bend over your right knee with the left leg out straight. Push off the right foot to come back up to standing, legs together. Repeat for 10 to 20 reps, alternating sides as you go.
The pretzel is one of those subtle exercises that offers solid engagement in one of those hard-to-reach areas: the outer glutes. Pay attention to form to ensure the outer glutes are activating properly and adjust your feet and legs to fit your range of flexibility.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor or mat with your left leg bent back behind you and your heel reaching toward the left glute. Your right leg should be bent in the same direction with the heel touching the top of the left quad. With your chest and arms squared over your right leg, keep both sit bones grounded to the floor. Gently lift the left knee off the ground, keeping your left foot down on the ground. Return the knee back to ground. Repeat for 30 reps before switching sides.
Read more: 4 Essential Moves to Tone Back, Glutes and Hamstrings
16. Fire Hydrant
You may feel silly doing this move, but the fire hydrant is a fantastic exercise that activates the outer glutes and hamstrings. It also opens up the hips and stretches out the inner thighs.
HOW TO DO IT: Start on all fours with your toes curled under and your feet flexed. Line up your knees directly under your hips and your shoulders directly over your wrists. Keep the legs about hip-distance apart. Keep the 90-degree bend in the right leg and slowly lift and open that bent leg outward. Don't hunch your shoulders, but keep your neck long and jaw away from either side of your shoulders. Repeat for 10 to 30 reps on each leg.
17. Donkey Kick
The donkey kick is an excellent booty and hamstring activator and a great finishing exercise.
HOW TO DO THEM: Start on all fours with your toes curled under and feet flexed. Line up your knees directly under your hips and your shoulders directly over your wrists. Keep your legs about hip-distance apart. Keep the 90-degree bend in the right leg and slowly kick the right heel back and up toward the ceiling, foot flexed. Lift the leg as high as you can go without arching your lower back or hunching your shoulders. Return the right knee to the mat and repeat for 10 to 30 reps on each side.
Read more: 15 MORE Moves to Tone Your Glutes