How to build a better booty
While I would argue that the sum of a well rounded physique is greater than its individual parts, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is "what are some good butt exercises?". Just like losing bodyfat is best facilitated by more mindful eating habits, having a posterior you're proud of shouldn't come at the expense of the rest of your body wasting away. Lower body movements that engage the entire posterior chain will not only facilitate the toning of your gluteus maximus but also those of your "side butt" (gluteus medius and gluteus minimus) as well as sculpting your thighs, lower back, and core. Below are the best exercises to help build a strong, well defined booty with a few added bonuses.
Hip Thrusters - you'll get the most bang for your buck using a barbell for this movement. Grab a mat, fold it, and place it in the middle of the barbell. With your upper back resting on a bench or box, center the bar on your hips and drive the weight upwards with as much force as you can, squeezing your glutes and extending your hips as high as you can. Pause for 1 second at the top and lower the weight slowly to the floor.
Split Squats - stepping back with one foot to a box or bench holding dumbbells at your side, sit into your back leg and bend your lead leg until parallel to the floor, keep your lead knee behind your lead ankle at a 90 degree angle (avoid rolling forward past your toes). Extend your lead leg upwards and repeat until all reps are completed on each side. Note: for further glute activation, move your lead foot further away from the bench.
Deadlifts (straight leg) - while there are several variations of the deadlift, you'll want to focus on the hip hinge (straight leg) variety to get the most posterior chain engagement. What does that mean? More hip hinge and less knee bend. With a barbell or dumbbells, hinge forward and let your hips/butt sink back behind you, keeping a soft bend in your knees and maintaining a neutral spine. One way to know if you're doing this right is to feel a stretch in your hamstrings as you're hinging forward.
Squats - whether you're using barbells or dumbbells for this movement, try to focus on range at the bottom. The further back and lower you can get your hips and butt at or below parallel (ass to grass), the more glute activation you'll get.
Hip Abduction - Hip Abduction comes in various forms but the key principle of each exercise is to move your leg laterally away from your body. This is one of the best accessory movements for firing up the "side butt" (gluteus medius/minimus) and why booty bands have become so popular. One of my favorite tools for this exercise is the slingshot. If you don't have access to a band, some other good substitutes are lateral leg raises (lying on the ground or using a cable machine), clams with a dumbbell, and fire hydrants.
*While performing these movements, don't underestimate the importance of load. Utilizing lighter weights and higher repetitions (20+) will not have the same effect as heavier weights with lower repetitions (8-12). Lower rep ranges are far better at stimulating growth so if you have access to a barbell or heavier dumbbells use them. Try to incorporate these into your workout program 2x per week.