Fitness Tips

I’m a Trainer, and These Are the 3 Exercises That Work Your Butt Better Than Squats

Tamara Pridgett

Photo: Getty Images/ ljubaphoto
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to strength training, and one of the biggest ones, in my opinion, is that squats are the best exercise to target your glute muscles. Squats are great for overall lower-body strength, but if the goal is to work your glutes (and I mean really work your glutes), squats aren’t going to cut it. I’m sure some of you are ready to argue, but hear me out. There are plenty of butt exercises that are better than squats to build strength in your glutes and lower body.

Squats aren’t the most effective exercise for the glutes because they primarily target your quadriceps. Your glutes will get worked, but secondarily, in addition to your hamstrings, calves, and core. Instead of doing squats to achieve your butt goals, I recommend glute-specific movements like glute bridges, hip thrusts, and deadlifts. There are many variations of each move and there’s an option for every person depending on your level. If you’re new to strength training, I recommend performing each move with your bodyweight to nail down the movement pattern, and as you become more acclimated with the exercises, consider adding resistance with bands, then progress to utilizing weights.

Butt exercises better than squats

Glute bridge

The glute bridge doesn’t get enough love in my opinion, but it’s an amazing exercise. This move is great for all levels and will teach you how to properly activate your glutes to get the most out of your workout but also to prevent injury. No matter which variation of glute bridges you decide to do, make sure your glutes and core are activated throughout the entire movement and be sure not to flare your ribs. Check out how to do this move in-depth with the explainer video below. And once you’ve got the bodyweight version down, experiment with single-leg bridges, glute bridges with a march, and if you’re really looking for a challenge, add some weight.

Hip thrust

Once you’ve got the glute bridge down, you can upgrade to a hip thrust. This is my favorite butt-centric exercise by far, and you’ll more than likely feel it working after a few reps. Similar to the glute bridge, I recommend doing this exercise sans weight initially, and as you get acclimated with the movement pattern, slowly add on the weight. Make sure to keep your ribs down, always engage your core and glutes, and keep your head level to avoid unnecessary pressure on your neck and spine.

Kettlebell deadlift

Deadlifts are a great all-around exercise and if you aren’t already performing them, I recommend adding them to your routine ASAP. Practice the movement without weight and as you become more confident with your form, begin to add light weight. Make sure to drive your entire foot into the ground, engage your core and glutes, and keep your spine in a neutral position.

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