A round butt looks great on everybody. And I mean every body. But the importance of your glutes extends far beyond curb appeal. Your booty plays an integral role in many of your basic functions. After all, it connects your trunk and lower body together, and it's the primary mover for your lower body.
Strong glutes are critical for jumping, running, moving laterally, and twisting. They work as stabilizers, rotators, tilters, extenders, adductors, and abductors. The glutes also help keep your knees, ankles, and spine in alignment. Glute strength helps you move better, so building a strong rear end increases your athletic ability on several levels.
To the derrière-deficient, building great glutes is as mysterious as the construction of the Great Pyramids of Giza. It's an undertaking that seems more like the 8th Wonder of the World than a training program. Butt-building is a trial, because, curvy or flat, part of how you look in your jeans is attributable to your genes. It's also difficult because most of us spend all day sitting on it! Don't fret—you aren't doomed to a lifetime of droopy-bum syndrome. Training can help you beat your genes and your constant sitting.
1 / Barbell Hip Thrust
Even if you ignore all other advice in this article, make sure you remember this piece.
The hip thrust has a great track record for reshaping glutes. Part of its success is due to the horizontal, bent-leg position. From this position, your glutes reach maximum activation at the top of the lift. You won't find many other glute-specific exercises where your glutes are in the strongest position during a peak contraction.
The horizontal, bent-leg position also keeps your hamstrings from compensating for weak glutes, which means your butt is going to do the work to move the load.
2 / Bulgarian Split Squat
Talk about versatility: You can do split squats with body weight, dumbbells, or a barbell. It's also great because you can do high-intensity, full-range-of-motion work with minimal loading of on the spine.
This exercise is often characterized as a unilateral movement, (it works one side of your body at a time). Unilateral exercises have great carryover to other athletic qualities. Despite your front leg doing most of the vertical movement, your back leg is responsible for a lot of stabilization. It's wonderfully tough on your lower-body muscles, and perfect for growing glutes.
3 / Sliding Leg Curl
These little guys are much more difficult than they look—but you have to do them correctly. The trick to maximizing glute activation is to keep your hips bridged throughout the duration of the exercise.
As you pull your legs toward your glutes, bridge higher. Then, as you slide your legs away from your body, hover above the floor so your legs are continually activated.
4 / Good Morning
If you execute this movement properly, you'll activate your erector spine, and hit your glutes and hamstrings. It takes strength in your posterior chain to keep the movement controlled. Depending on your flexibility, you might feel a stretch all the way down into your calves.
You can do good mornings standing or sitting. If you're worried about your back, try them sitting first. If you like standing, keep a slight bend in your legs. Remember to stick your butt out and keep an arch in the small of your back.
5 / Standing Band Abduction
The abductors play a key role in glute function, so you'll want a well-rounded routine that strengthens your hips in various ways. The standing band abduction is one of my favorite glute accessory movements because it makes me work!
Perform these in high-rep sets. To get those medial glutes firing, make sure you get down in a squat stance. I recommend placing this exercise at the end of your workout as a burnout finisher.
Putting It All Together
If you train your lower body twice each week, try these workouts: