Your butt muscles (glutes) are the largest muscle in your body, and unlike so many other muscles, they’re made up of three distinct muscles. The gluteus maximus is the big one that forms most of the back of your butt, while the gluteus minimus and medius are smaller ones on either side of it.
You can train those butt muscles with or without weights, but if you want to save money on a gym membership or don’t have any equipment at home, bodyweight exercises will do just fine. Plus, doing them at home means you can squeeze in workouts during your lunch break or when you get home from work without worrying about getting to a gym first.
1. Hip drive
A hip drive is a great way to tone your glutes and hamstrings. Start by laying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands at your sides, keeping them as close to you as possible. With your back pressed firmly into the ground and core engaged, squeeze your glutes while pushing through your heels to bring your hips off of the ground. Hold before slowly lowering yourself back down once you are at the top of the movement. Try to do 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
2. Bottoms-up lunge
- Stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Step one foot forward and bend both knees until the front leg is at a 90-degree angle and the rear leg nearly touches the floor.
- Drive through the front heel to return to standing, then repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep.
3. Hip thrust
The hip thrust is an excellent exercise to strengthen your glutes, but the form is key. You should go as heavy as possible while maintaining proper form—don’t go so heavy that you have to round your back. Keep your chest up and shoulder blades back the entire time.
Place a barbell in a landmine unit or use a 45-pound plate with one end on the floor perpendicular to a bench. Sit on the bench with your upper back resting against it and feet out in front of you; knees bent 90 degrees. Lean into the bench, placing both hands on the loaded end of the barbell to secure it in place. Drive through heels and squeeze glutes as you raise hips until they’re fully extended (make sure not to hyperextend). Pause for one second at the top and lower back down under control for three seconds
4. Glute bridge
Start by lying on the floor with your feet flat, knees bent, and arms at your sides if you’re a beginner. Keep your feet about hip-width apart. Lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Pause for three to five seconds and slowly lower back down to complete one rep.
For a more advanced move, try doing it on one leg at a time: have one foot raised in the air when performing the glute bridge.) This will help you build core strength and hip stability while strengthening your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. This can help improve posture and balance and relieve low-back pain.
To increase resistance, lift both legs off the ground (i.e., do a double leg glute bridge) or place an exercise ball between your ankles when performing single leg glute bridges.
5. Side skaters
Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Jump to the right, land with your feet, and tap your left toes out to the side. Make sure you’re keeping your abs tight and landing softly on the balls of your feet. Do as many reps as possible for 30 seconds.
Bonus: You can also hold a dumbbell in each hand while you make this move to add intensity!
6. Marching hip lift
This hip lift variation is also great for strengthening the lower back, which will help you avoid injury as you increase your weightlifting. So it’s a win-win!
Squeeze your glutes and raise your hips off the floor until your body straightens from shoulders to knees. Lift one knee toward your chest to be at or above 90 degrees and parallel with the floor. Lower back down to start, then repeat on another side. Repeat on both sides, alternating legs each time. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps total (10 each leg).
7. Chair squat jump
Stand in front of a chair, with your back straight, feet hip-width apart. Lift your right foot off the ground. Keep your hips squared. Bend both knees to lower your butt toward the chair as if you’re lowering into a squat, but don’t rest on the chair.
Jump up explosively, switching legs midair, so you land with your left foot lifted off the ground and right heel on the chair. Repeat for 12 to 15 reps total, then switch sides and repeat for 3 sets total.
8. Diagonal squat
- Stand with your feet wide and toes turned out.
- Squat down to the right, then return to standing while pressing into your heels.
- Repeat on the left side. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps, alternating sides.
9. Hip thrust single-arm reach
Because you want to work your butt, not hurt your back. “The proper way to perform a hip thrust is to brace the core and keep the spine neutral,” says Sohee Lee, CSCS, author of Built by Science: Six Weeks to a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You. “In other words, there should be no low-back movement during the exercise.” Got it? Great. Now let’s wrap this up!
A step-up is an effective lower body exercise that strengthens the muscles in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. You can do it with bodyweight, dumbbells, or a barbell.
A step-up targets the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstring muscles. They also train the leg muscles to work together, which increases proprioception (the ability to know where your legs are during movement). A step-up can be performed anywhere using any size step or platform as long as it is stable.
11. Side lunge shift
Come into a split stance with your feet about four feet apart and knees bent. Shift your weight onto the left leg, keeping it straight as you press your hips back and bend your right knee to lower into a lunge. Press through the left heel to return to standing. Repeat on the other side. Do 10 reps total (5 per side).
12. Walking lunge
Giving your glutes a workout is as simple as standing up from your chair, walking around the office, or taking a long stroll. It only gets better when you do those things with intention. See for yourself by trying this lunge variation:
- Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, hands-on-hips (or holding weights at sides).
- Take a large step back with your right leg and lower into a lunge until both knees bend to 90 degrees.
- Push off left foot and return to starting position; repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating for 1 minute.
Rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next move in this bodyweight butt workout!
13. Single-leg hip lift
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise one leg straight up toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the ground, flexing your foot. Keeping your shoulders and hips squared toward the ground, use your glutes and hamstrings to lift your hips off the ground for a count of two. Slowly lower your hips back down for a count of two. Repeat 10 times on each side.
14. Hip drive step-up
The hip drive step-up targets the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and quadriceps muscles. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete, you can use this exercise to help build strength in your legs and core. This is one of my favorite exercises because it works both sides simultaneously. It’s also a great cardio exercise as well. So if you want to start building strength in your hips and quads, try out these hip drive step-ups!
15. Side step-up
- Stand with your left side on a step, bench, or chair. Place your left foot on the surface, and shift your weight onto it until you’re standing on the surface with both feet.
- Keeping yourself balanced and aligned, slowly lower yourself back down to the floor. Repeat for reps on each leg.
16. Single leg sit-to-stand
This is a great butt and hamstring exercise and a functional movement all older adults should be doing.
Place your chair on the left side of your body and extend your right leg out in front of you. Keep both arms at your sides, palms facing down. Inhale and bend the left leg while extending your arms toward the ceiling with the palms still down. Exhale and slowly lower yourself back into a sitting position, keeping both legs at a 90-degree angle, which activates the glutes even more. Do 10 reps on each side (3 sets).
- You can make this move harder by holding weights or even easier by using a counter or table to help you get back up from sitting
17. Crossover lunge
The crossover lunge is another serious glute scorcher.
Place a wide band around your thighs, and start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back and lower into a lunge position, keeping your back straight and chest up (a). Return to the starting position (b). Repeat on the opposite side.
18. Bottoms-up lunge to crossover lunge
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hinge forward at your hips to place both hands on the floor, like you’re getting ready to do a push-up.
- Walk your hands forward until you reach a high plank position (your body should be straight from head to heels).
- Engage your core and jump both feet up toward your hands as it feels comfortable for you (some people can touch their toes; others can land only between their knees and their hands; either is fine). When landing, try not to let your butt hit the floor too hard—try to land softly on the balls of your feet.
- Jump back into a high plank position again, then lower yourself down so that both forearms are touching the floor.
- Press back up onto both hands one last time before coming back into standing. That’s one rep!
19. Supported single-leg squat
- Get into a lunge position with your right foot on a bench behind you. (You can also do this exercise against a sturdy chair instead of a bench.)
- Bend your knees and lower them until your left thigh is almost parallel to the ground. Your knee should be directly above your ankle, not past it.
- Keep your chest up and maintain a straight back as you sit back into the lunge.
- Drive through your front heel to return to the starting position, keeping tension in the working leg throughout each rep. Do all reps before switching legs.
20. Single-leg deadlift
Stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides.
Slowly bend forward at the waist, reaching your hands toward the floor. When you’re as far as you can comfortably go, raise one leg behind you. Keep both legs straight and reach toward your toes with both hands, keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
Lower yourself back to starting position without twisting or bending from the hips.
21. Power skip
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then bend your knees slightly to get into a half squat.
- Push off the ground using your right foot and jump into the air, landing softly on your left foot.
- Switch legs in midair to land on your right foot as you raise your left leg straight up.
- Immediately jump off your right foot and land on your left foot with both feet shoulder-width apart before repeating the move.
22. Rear-foot-elevated deadlift
>The rear-foot-elevated deadlift is a great way to strengthen your posterior chain, especially if you’re interested in powerlifting or improving your strength and stability for other exercises. This move also benefits people who sit at desks all day, which is why it’s one of my favorite exercises, as I do sit at a desk all day (for work, not just because I’m lazy).
23. Rear-foot elevated split squat
This is another great alternative to squats to build strength and size in your glutes. It also hits the quads and hamstrings. If you’re just starting, try doing this with nothing but your body weight, then add weight once you feel comfortable. You can do it with a barbell on your back or a dumbbell in each hand, or even by placing one foot on a bench seat behind you and holding your other foot suspended off the ground for added resistance.
Stand perpendicular to a box or bench at about knee height. Place one foot behind you on top of the box so your back leg is bent at 90 degrees, with the front knee directly above the front ankle. Lower your body down until both knees are bent at 90 degrees, then drive through your back heel to bring yourself up straight again while keeping your core tight throughout the movement.
Important note: Keep chest high and torso upright throughout this exercise as you squat down so that it’s not rounding forward (this can strain the lower back).
24. Single-leg squat reach across
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, and then slightly lift your right foot off the floor.
- Slowly lower yourself down into a squat while lifting your arms forward at shoulder height. Keep the back straight when you reach across to switch sides (don’t twist).
- Once you’ve switched sides, carefully lift yourself as you bring your arms back to the starting position.
You’ll feel this move in your butt and thighs—try doing it slowly for the maximum burn!
25. Squat Pulses
Targets glutes and quadriceps
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hips stacked over knees, and knees over ankles. Extend arms straight, parallel with the ground, palms facing down. Gaze forward.
Engage your abs, push your buttocks back as if you’re sitting in a chair, and lower into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as low as you can go without lifting your heels off the floor or bending forward). As you squat, raise your arms in front of you to shoulder height. Then lower back down to start for one rep. Do two sets of 16 reps.*Squat Pulses: Same form as above but lower only halfway down into a squat and hold for 30 seconds. Pulse up 1 inch and down 1 inch for 30 seconds (or 60 pulses total); then hold at the bottom of the squat for 15 seconds before standing.
26. Plie Squats
Start this exercise by standing with your feet wider than shoulder width. The wider the stance, the more you will feel this in your glutes and adductors (your inner thighs). Squat down as low as you can and keep a flat back. To progress this exercise, add weights to make it even harder. To regress it, take the weights away and shorten your stance so that you can maintain good form and keep a flat back through the entire movement.
To get the most out of this exercise, think about pushing through your heels while keeping them planted on the ground throughout the entire movement. Squeeze those glutes at the top! This exercise primarily works your glutes and quads and strengthens all of those supporting muscles in your legs like your hamstrings and adductors.
27. Jump Squats
Jump squats are a plyometric exercise, which means they’re high-intensity and are an effective way to burn fat and strengthen your glutes. They also increase your heart rate and cause the muscles in your butt to contract, which improves muscle definition.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and squat down as low as possible while keeping your spine straight.
- Immediately push off of the ground as hard as you can to propel yourself into the air. This will feel like jumping up quickly, but be careful not to jump too high to lose control of your form.
- Land softly in a squat position, with knees, bent at about a 90-degree angle. Immediately repeat for recommended reps or time with good form.
- Lie on your side with your knees bent and stacked. Have your feet flat on the floor, and rest your head on your arm (for balance).
- Keeping your hips stable and facing the floor, tighten the muscles of your right leg and raise it to a 45-degree angle to the ground. Keep both heels touching throughout the motion. Pause for one count, then lower back down without letting part of either foot touch the floor between reps. That’s one rep; do 10–15 per side.
29. In and Out Donkey Kicks
To do in and out donkey kicks, start on all fours with your knees underneath your hips and your hands underneath your shoulders. Lift your right leg up and back, keeping your knee bent and your foot flexed. Your hands and left knee should be the only things on the floor. Then straighten both legs so that you’re balancing on just one leg. Pause for one second at full extension, then bend back into a lunge with both knees bent before repeating with the other leg. That’s one rep!
You’ll love this movie if you’ve ever played the video game Frogger. Assume a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Keeping your knees bent at all times, jump both legs out wide to the right—just as you would in the classic video game—and jump them back in. Then repeat on the left side. Do 20 reps total, then rest for 30 seconds, and continue for five sets.
31. Sumo Squat with Pause
- Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Your toes should point out.
- If you want to modify this exercise, you can perform it with your back against a wall.
- Lower yourself into a squat position as low as you can go.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then stand up and repeat 20 times.”
32. Fire Hydrants with Circles
- Get on all fours. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Keep your back flat and look straight down at the ground.
- Lift your right leg up to the side, then back down. This is a fire hydrant movement: Imagine you’re a dog lifting its leg to pee on a fire hydrant. Do 10 to 15 repetitions of this exercise with each leg in three sets, resting for 30 seconds between each set.
- Circle clockwise with your right leg, then counterclockwise with it again. Do 10 repetitions in each direction for three sets, resting for 30 seconds between each set
33. Wide-to-Narrow Reverse Lunges
Begin with feet about hip-width apart. Take a big step back with your left leg, lowering into a reverse lunge. Make sure to keep your left knee in line with your left foot. Push through the right foot to return to standing. Repeat on the other side.
34. Donkey Kick (90 degrees) to Back Kick to Front Kick Combo
Donkey kick: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and bring your left knee up to hip height, toes facing down. Push your left heel back behind you, squeezing your glutes as you come back to standing. Do 12 reps with your left leg, then switch sides and do 12 more on the right side.
Back kick: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend at the hips into a tabletop position (your butt jutting out behind you and parallel to the floor), knees hovering above ground level. Pull one leg toward your chest and kick it straight back behind you, keeping your foot flexed and engaging through the glutes as you extend. Return that leg to tabletop position and repeat on the other side for four total reps per side (eight total).
Front kick: Stand with one foot forward in a split stance; push off of the ball of that foot as you kick it forward into a front squat position. Bring that same foot back down into a lunge before returning both feet together in starting position (ankles touching). Complete eight reps before switching sides and repeating on the other side for four total reps per side (eight total).
35. Lateral Lunge with a Pulse
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step your left foot out to the side, and sink your hips back and down into a lateral lunge, keeping your weight on your right heel.
- Press back up to standing.
- Repeat on the other side.
36. Single Leg Deadlift with a Row
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your shoulders back.
- Engaging your core and keeping your left foot flat on the floor, slowly hinge forward at the hips while raising your right leg behind you until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstring (A). Your upper body should be parallel to the floor, straight from head to heel.
- Squeeze the muscles in both glutes as you return to standing (B). That’s one rep. Do all reps on one side, then switch sides and repeat.
To make it easier: Reduce the range of motion by only hinging halfway down or by lifting one leg instead of two during the Single Leg Deadlift portion of this move, tells Andrew Speirs, CSCS, an instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City. You can also reduce the challenge of this move by holding onto something for support as you hinge back and forth like a countertop or chair — just be sure not to let it take all of your weight or rely on it for balance!
37. Side Leg Lifts to Front Kicks
- Get on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips.
- Raise your left leg to the side (toes should point down), then up to the ceiling. Return foot to the floor and repeat for 10 reps.
- Next, lift your right knee forward in a front kick (toes should point down). Return foot to the floor and repeat 10 times with that leg.
- Continue alternating between the side and front kicks until you’ve done 8 total sets (80 reps).
38. Curtsy Lunges with a Pulse
- Curtsy lunges with a pulse.
- Start standing with feet together, hands-on-hips; lunge back and to the right with right leg, bending both knees 90 degrees and keeping shoulders aligned over hips.
- Push off your right foot to return to starting position as you squeeze your glutes.
- That’s one rep. Do all reps on the same side without touching your foot down, then switch sides.
39. Skaters or Curtsy Lunges With Kick-Out Combo
- Start standing with feet hip-width apart and arms at the sides.
- Step forward and across your body with your right leg while simultaneously swinging your arms behind you, so they’re straight and in line with your torso. Arms should be outstretched, palms down.
- Bend both knees into a lunge position (you should be on the ball of your left foot). Push off left toes to jump up, bringing bent legs together and arms overhead as you fly through the air.
- As soon as you land, bend both knees into a lunge position again—behind you (left leg bent in front, right leg bent behind). At the same time, bring both arms straight out in front of the chest at shoulder height (like goalposts) with elbows bent 90 degrees so fists are pointing up and thumbs are facing down. Twist torso to the right, so shoulders are turned sideways; keep core engaged so the body stays squared forward.
2 to 3 sets of 10 reps per side
40. Figure Eights/Single Leg Bridge Combo
- Start lying on your back with your hands by your sides and knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
- Lift one leg, keeping it straight and parallel to the floor.
- Bring your knee to the opposite elbow.
- Return to starting position [repeat 10 times].
- Perform single leg bridge [repeat 10 times].
Try these moves to sculpt your butt.
When we talk about “the butt,” we usually refer to the gluteus maximus, the largest of your three gluteal muscles. But you’ll also hit your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus—the other two muscles in that area—in these moves. And now you know! The butt workout exercises have been listed above.