Squats work so several muscles in your lower body, but they target the quadriceps (the muscles in the front of the thighs) more than the hamstrings and glutes in the back of the thighs. If you’re trying to boost the size of your booty by building more defined glutes, squats will only get you part of the way there.
The squat is an exercise that works the glutes but works your quadriceps muscles more. Keep doing squats for their many fitness benefits but also add these exercises to your strength-training routine.
They’ll activate your glutes more than a squat does, and that can lead to greater gains. By doing this, you’ll get more balanced muscle development between the front and back of your lower body and build stronger, more defined glutes.
The glute bridge is an isometric exercise that targets the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your buttocks, and the one that gives it its shape. Here’s how to do one:
- Lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent.
- Place both arms flat on the mat with your palms facing down.
- Lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your legs to your shoulders.
- While holding this position, squeeze your glutes together at the top and hold as long as you can.
- Rest and repeat.
- Try to increase the amount of time you hold at the top and squeeze your glutes harder over time.
Once a standard glute bridge becomes easy, place a dumbbell or barbell across your hips to add more resistance and make the exercise more challenging. Glute bridges are one of the best exercises for beginners who want stronger glute muscles.
Once you’re comfortable with glute bridge, the next step up is to tackle hip thrusts, a more dynamic movement. Here’s how to do one:
- Lie flat on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat.
- Place both arms with your palms facing down on the mat.
- Thrust your hips off the mat and toward the ceiling until your body forms a straight line from legs to shoulders.
- Hold for a second at the top and then lower your body back down.
- Keep repeating the thrusting action as you pause and squeeze your glutes for a second at the top.
Hip thrusts are like a more dynamic variation of glute bridges and, based on muscle activation, one of the best exercises for your glute muscles.
Once you’ve mastered a standard hip thrust, make the exercise harder by placing a dumbbell or barbell across your hips when you thrust. You can also increase the challenge by planting your feet on a bench, so your legs are elevated rather than flat on the floor.
Sumo Deadlift to target your glutes
Deadlifts are a full-body exercise that strengthens the muscles in your lower body and core. There are a variety of deadlift variations that activate the glute muscles. One of the best is the sumo deadlift.
Here’s how to do one:
- Stand up straight with your feet together.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand and allow your arms to hang down in front of you so the dumbbells are just below hip level.
- Bend your torso forward while shifting the weight of your body onto your right leg. At the same time, extend your left leg behind you until your left leg forms a straight line with shoulders.
- Bring your left leg back down as you slowly straighten your torso back to the starting position.
- Switch the leg that you extend and repeat on the opposite side.
The Bottom Line
Ready to try something new and see new booty gains? The squat isn’t the only exercise you should do for stronger, more defined gluteal muscles. To target your glutes, add these glute moves to your fitness routine to take glute development to the next level. By varying the exercises, you work your glutes from different angles and modify the stimulus you place on them, and that can boost growth. That’s the whole objective, right?
- Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2019 Feb; 14(1): 14-31.
- BrettContreras.com. “What Are The Best Glute Exercises?”
- ACE Fitness. “Glutes to the Max: Exclusive ACE Research Gets to the Bottom of the Most Effective Glutes Exercises”