We know, we know, no one wants to talk about butt toning exercises. Once upon a time 6-pack abs were getting all the attention in the fitness scene. And sure, we would all love a toned tummy, but these days believe it or not, it’s all about the booty. Just ask Instagram phenomenon @jenselter, who currently has 6.7 million followers all tuning in to see her infamous #belfies (aka, butt selfies). To put it in perspective, that is more followers than celebrity fashion stylist and designer Rachel Zoe (1.5 million), more than actress Reese Witherspoon (3.4 millions) and—wait for it— more than Barack Obama (4.2 million). Yeah, this relatively unknown New Yorker’s butt has more followers than the President of the United States.
According to celebrity fitness trainer, Harley Pasternak, the recent increased focus on a toned butt is because “it’s the one part you really can’t fake.” He continues, “a toned backside truly anchors your physique, and can make the difference between jeans fitting…and jeans REALLY fitting.” While the reality is that not everyone was born with a butt like Nicki Minaj, there are some exercise moves and tips to help you flaunt a booty that would make Sir Mix-a-Lot proud. After all, no one ever wrote a song about a tiny tushy.
First, you need to work your glutes. Your gluteus muscles (aka your butt) are made up of 3 key players: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. According to Women’s Health, your gluteus maximus “creates the shape of your butt and works anytime you raise your thigh to the side, rotate your leg, or thrust your hips forward. The other two, the medius and minimus, work together to aid your gluteus maximus in raising your leg to the side.” Pasternak explains “the glutes enable us to extend at the hip and are active when your thighs moves away from the front of your upper body.” In other words, they are really important if you want a toned bottom.
Chelsea Dornan, a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and instructor at Uplift Studios in New York City, recommends a Single-Leg Glute Bridge to tone your butt. Lie flat on your back with your feet hip-width apart (in-line with your hips) and your knees bent. Extend one leg, squeeze your butt muscle and lift your leg and hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your glutes engaged the entire time. Slowly lower that leg and repeat for 1 minute, then switch legs.
These great butt workouts designed by Lauren Brenner, creator of Pure Power Boot Camp in New York City, work every muscle in your butt. Start with a two-part squat by standing with your feet in a wide second position and your thighs parallel to the floor; hold that position, bend down a few more inches, and then return to your starting point and repeat. Next an arabesque (yes, like the ballet move) works your glutes and your hip abductors. Stand tall with one arm reaching towards the ceiling and your feet hip-width apart. Extend your leg on the same side back, toes pointed, and lift that leg a 5-7 inches. Lift and lower 15 times on each side.
We all know that squats can work your thighs and glutes, but this squat with a kick-back takes that move to the next level. Start with your legs shoulder-width apart and sit back to a squat position. Then extend one leg back behind you and extend your arms in front of you. Return to your starting position, and then repeat on the other side. This move works your butt and quads, while also encoring a strong core as you try to maintain your balance. These are some of the best butt toning exercises out there.
A clamshell move is great because it’s effective at toning your glutes and hamstrings, but it also allows you to lie on the floor. It’s deceivingly easy but don’t be fooled—after a few reps your muscles will be screaming. Lie on your side with your knees and hips bent and your legs stacked, one on top of the other. Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee so that you create a diamond shape between your legs. Pause, then return to your starting position. Continue for about 1 minute and then switch sides.
Lastly, if you want your glutes to not only look good, but also perform well in the future, you need to stretch them properly after your workout. Not properly stretching your glutes could lead to overcompensation from other muscles groups and potential injury, so make sure you take time to stretch these muscles using a figure four stretch, a runner’s lunge and more.