Work out with these four moves that’ll lift and firm your booty.
Janet Jackson made us want flatter abs. Michelle Obama showed us what toned arms paired with a cute sundress can do. Now, thanks partly to Nicki Minaj and yes, Meghan Trainor, our fitness goals are all about that bass.
The butt is made up of three main muscles: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, making it the foundation for strength, posture, calorie burn and ultimate exercise efficiency. Forget about your butt and you can also forget about results.
Give Beyoncé a run for her money with these bootylicious workout moves next time you’re in the gym. Warm up, grab your sneakers and get your butt moving…
Squats are the most popular booty shapers because they put the most stress on the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in your body. When done correctly, squats fire up the glutes as well as the hamstrings and quadriceps.
To squat correctly: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, feet turned out just slightly. Sit back on your heels and lower your butt as if sitting in a chair, making sure your knees are tracking toward your toes, but not going past them. Focus the movement on your hips rather than your knees. Keep your back straight and squeeze your butt throughout the entire movement. Then stand back up bringing your hips back under your shoulders.
Try these squat variations:
Air Squat — squat with your arms lifted straight in front of you
Goblet Squat — squat while holding a weight in front of your chest, keeping your elbows close to your body
Jump Squat — squat, then jump, returning to a squat position
Sumo Squat — squat with your legs wider than shoulders and feet turned out 45 degrees
Split Squat — with one foot about three feet in front of the other, and the top of the back foot elevated on a surface at least six inches high, lower weight directly between feet without letting your front knee travel past your toes
Perform squats slowly and with weight if possible, to increase the time your muscles are under tension, and to see the best results.
2. Side Leg Lifts
Jane Fonda’s exercise tapes from the ‘80s are an icon for booty-busting workouts. And one move Fonda did best was the side leg lift. Unlike many other exercises to lift and firm your booty, the side leg lift targets your gluteus medius, a deeply underdeveloped muscle on the the side of your bottom.
An unworked gluteus medius can lead to what’s called “dead butt syndrome,” where these side muscles are so underdeveloped that the rest of your glutes cannot work as efficiently. Plus, it can also lead to wider hips and a flatter booty, along with injuries. Even many athletes like runners who are generally moving forward while training, not side to side (laterally), can run into issues with underdeveloped gluteus medius muscles.
To work this muscle, incorporate a side leg lift into your warm-up regimen or work with minibands in functional movement patterns.
Perform from standing — With feet parallel and body facing forward, lift your right leg out to the side until you feel a squeeze in your glutes. Tap foot to floor and continue.
Perform while lying on your side — Lie on your left side, right leg stacked on top of the left and hips facing forward. With your left arm bent to prop up your head, lift your top leg until you feel it in your glutes. Return to start and repeat.
From either standing or lying down, add a resistance band around your knees or ankles to progress the move.
3. Hamstring Curls
Glutes and hamstrings have a close relationship — often referred to as the glute hammy tie-in. So when these muscles are worked to the max, you burn fat, firm your booty and build stronger legs in the process. Hamstring curl-ins are a highly underrated booty-boosting exercise. They challenge the hamstrings and glutes to work together to lift your lower bodyweight.
This exercise can be performed in a few ways one of which is on the hamstring curl machine at the gym. If you’re at home, try this way:
With a stability ball — Lie down on the floor on your back and place for feet on the top of the stability ball, legs straight. Lift your hips up by squeezing your butt. Then, curl your heels in toward your butt, bending your knees, flattening your feet and creating a bridge with your hips. Make sure you keep your hips up and core braced as you return your legs out straight to the starting position.
Make the move tougher by straightening the non-working leg until the knee is beside your working knee and leave it elevated as you curl in the working leg slowly.
4. Step-Ups & Lunges
A simple stepping-up motion onto a surface allows you to work your legs in isolation, or one at a time. Move slowly and hold weights that you can do only 10 to 12 reps with until you need to switch sides.
To perform this move — Find a stable flat surface that’s at least six inches in height. With your torso perpendicular to the floor, focus on using your glutes to lift your body up until you’re standing on the elevated leg.
Lunges are great for your lower body and isolating your glutes.
To perform this move — Start with your feet hip-width apart. Take one large step forward with your right leg. Bend your knee but be sure your knee does not extend over your toes. Push the weight back into your hips as you lower your back knee toward the ground. You’ll feel a deep stretch in your glutes. Return to standing upright and switch legs. This movement is easiest in a hallway, or down the aisle in the gym. Pick a spot on the far wall, and go.
In addition to the aesthetic changes you can give your body with these lower-body booty-building moves, you’ll also get stronger and more athletic. Work it!
Photo credit: ThinkStock, criene; Shutterstock