3. Lunge with arm reach
Reaching forward with the arms at knee height creates additional hip flexion, placing more emphasis on the gluteus maximus. When the arms are reaching forward, creating additional forward lean in the trunk, then the glutes are lengthened at both the bottom and top, creating more effective lengthening of the muscle.
How to do it: Stand tall with feet approximately hip-width apart and arms extended at chest height. Step forward with your right foot. As your weight comes down on your right leg, lean forward at your waist and reach with both hands at approximately knee height. Return to standing by pushing the right foot into the ground and driving the body back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat 6-10 times on the right leg, then do the same number on the left leg.
Want to make it more challenging? UsE a medicine ball, dumbbells, or aViPR for added resistance.
4. The Step Up
The step-up is one of the best butt exercises you can do to work on strength, power, and balance in a unilateral fashion (one side at a time). We all perform this basic functional movement many times a day, every day. It targets all the main large muscles of the legs, particularly the glutes and hamstrings, and really helps develop a nice shapely, toned rear end.
How to do it: Stand upright with one foot on a bench or step, holding dumbbells by your sides with your arms straight. Push off your top foot and step up onto the bench (or step) with both feet. Step down onto one foot, keeping the other foot on the bench and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps on each leg.
5. Floor Jacks
This prone version of a jumping jack is sure to fire up your glutes. During the move, make sure your knees stay straight, feet are always off the floor, and focus on squeezing your glutes. As your legs move apart, you can emphasize the upper and side glute fibers more, and as you bring your legs together, you are still very much activating those cheeks.
How to do it: Lie facedown on the floor or mat. Extend your arms and legs into an ‘X’ shape and then do ‘jumping jacks’ in this position (no actual jumping involved). Do 3 sets of 30 seconds.
If you feel this move in your lower back, Richey recommends lowering your arms and chest to the floor and just doing the leg movement until you feel ready to add the upper body
6. The Uni-Leg Chair Squat
You cannot cheat on this exercise. This move takes the best glute activation a squat can offer and the best hip and thigh activation that a lunge can offer all rolled into one truly challenging but oh-so-worth-it exercise.
How to do it: Start by sitting close to the edge of a chair with arms crossed, chest lifted, right foot solidly on the floor, and left leg elevated about 8 inches. Engage your abs and lean your torso slightly forward to prepare to stand. Dig your right heel firmly into the exercise mat (or floor), shift glutes backward (as you do in a regular squat), and straighten you right knee not quite to full extension while squeezing up on your glutes. Hold your left leg up off the mat and balance for 3 counts. Lower slowly and repeat. Do 2-4 sets of 10 reps on each leg.
7. Quadruped Hip Extensions
While this exercise may seem simple, a research study actually found this move to elicit the most muscle activation for the gluteus maximus and the gluteus medius when compared to other common butt-shaping exercises (squats, leg press, etc.). It also elicits a significant amount of muscle activity in the hamstrings (which is important for sporting a great-looking backside). Plus, it can be done just about anywhere so it’s convenient for those who may be exercising while traveling or at home.