Let's get one thing clear: It's all about the bum. Sure, built biceps fill out a shirt and six-pack abs are the prize of every beachgoer, but the back is where it's at. A bodacious booty is essential to a good physique—and not just for stage-bound fitness contestants. Everyone seems to want a great bum. Photos of posteriors flood the Internet and are often the most viewed—and "liked"—body part on social media. There's just something magical about a beautiful butt!
"How do you get your butt like that?" is the fitness question I hear the most. And before you say it, yes, genetics play a part. Just like a pretty smile or clear skin, there are people born with a genetic booty advantage, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to improve your glutes. Women often turn to cardio to "get a butt," but the clear path to a better booty doesn't go through the treadmill or the elliptical. Instead, start with weights.
When it comes to training, I prefer to stick with the basics. People think they need 10 different exercises to fashion a fine pair of cheeks, but that's not what it takes. When it comes to toning your glutes, you only need two things: drive and dedication—and I mean real dedication. You must train your glutes hard and diligently to get a great response. If you stop every time it gets difficult or whenever it burns, you're not going to get anywhere.
Skip the skimpy weights to build a booty. Your butt gets bigger as it gets stronger, so use heavy weights that limit you to 5-12 reps per set. Need an extra boost of motivation? Use your workout log as a form of healthy competition.
Always try to beat your last butt-kicking (and building) workout by using heavier weights and increasing the number of sets and reps. Are you unsure where to start? Take a page from my book. Below are my five favorite booty-building exercises.
Your Cheeky Training Plan
Weave one of these exercises into your regular workout plan one or two days per week. Believe it or not, this is more than enough time under tension to build the better butt you want.
More training isn't always better. Targeting your glutes more than twice per week can actually slow down the butt-building process. Your glutes need ample time to rest, recover, and grow.
For each exercise, aim for 5-12 heavy reps. Always keep good form. As you progress, bump up the weight whenever necessary and mix the exercises you include.
EXERCISE 1: Squats
Squats are the king of lower-body exercises. Why? Well, they work pretty much every muscle in your legs while strengthening your core, hips, and lower back. Just make sure you get the most out of the movement. With a back squat, stopping at parallel or just barely below puts most of the emphasis on your quads, leaving your glutes less engaged.
Squatting until you're below parallel—the lower the better—puts the emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings. The narrower your stance, the more focus you put on your quads.
When squatting, be sure to maintain proper form: Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly out.
EXERCISE 2: Weighted Walking Lunges
These elevate your heart rate and will make you sore the next day. With your arms at your sides and a dumbbell in each hand, step forward. Lunge and alternate legs with each step. Lunge low. Make sure your front knee never extends past your toes.
EXERCISE 3: Barbell Hip Thrusts
The hip thrust activates and builds the upper glutes to a much greater extent than squats, and even to a greater extent than deadlifts.
Sit on the ground with your back against a bench, feet planted firmly in front of you, and a padded barbell in your lap. Keep your knees stable, raise the barbell by extending your hips, and push your hips upward with your glutes.
Rise until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, then slowly lower back to the ground. Squeeze your glutes at the top.
EXERCISE 4: Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
To do these properly and take the focus off your lower back, push your hips back as far as you can until you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings. I prefer to keep my feet positioned in a close stance, but you can make them sumo—feet wider than shoulder-width apart and slightly pointed out—to switch things up.
Keep the bar as close to your legs as you can. Keep your back straight. Go down as low as you can while feeling a deep stretch, and then come back up. Don't let your lower back round.
EXERCISE 5: Bulgarian Split Squats
With these, as with most exercises, positioning is the key. The closer together your legs are, the more you target your quads. The farther you place your front leg in front of you, the more emphasis you place on your glutes.
With your back foot situated on a bench or box and your chest high, drop your back knee to the floor. Go down as far down as you can. Repeat.