Summer may be the season to show off your booty in your favorite bikini, but you can still build your perfect backside once school starts. In fact, if you're not quite happy with how your booty is shaping up, the off-season is the best time to build that booty for next summer. It takes time and work—not just a handful of Instagram workouts.
First, it's important to understand the basic anatomy of your glutes. The glutes are made up of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. These three muscles are responsible for hip extension and leg rotation.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle. Properly developed, it gives your booty that fuller and rounder appearance. The gluteus medius and minimus are the smaller, deeper muscles that lie beneath the gluteus maximus and help with lift and shape.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the what makes up our glutes, let's jump into how to make them pop!
Compound exercises are multijoint movements that incorporate more than one muscle group. They are the opposite of isolation exercises, which only focus on working one muscle at a time.
People often assume compound exercises are only for building massive muscles. Yes, compound movements do build muscle, but they also generally burn more calories than isolation exercises do. Unless you're targeting the specific sets, reps, and volume to make your muscles grow, you won't get "bulky" if you do compound exercises.
Exercises that target the glute muscles usually require joint movement from the hips, knees, and ankles. These compound movements activate your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and even your core muscles. Some of the best booty-building compound exercises and variations include:
- Squats: Recommended variations are barbell back squats, cable squats, hack squats, Bulgarian split squats, goblet squats, and sumo squats.
- Deadlifts: Recommended variations are sumo deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts.
- Lunges: Recommended variations are standing lunges, walking lunges, and reverse lunges.
It's tricky to grow your glutes without building muscle mass in your legs as well, and as any competitor will tell you, it's incredibly hard to balance your physique when you've got extra mass where you don't want it.
This is precisely why you also need isolation exercises to round out your booty-sculpting workout. While compound movements help build strong, full glutes, isolation exercises help define and sculpt to get you the exact size and shape you want without adding unwanted mass.
Combining compound movements with isolation movements guarantees you'll feel the burn in your bum—and only your bum! There are hundreds of isolation exercises out there, but here are some of my booty-sculpting favorites:
- Glute bridge: You don't even need any equipment for these booty blasters. They can be done on just about any surface, flat or elevated, and weighted or unweighted. You can work both glutes at the same time, or create more isolation with single-leg glute bridges.
- Hip thrust: These are similar to glute bridges, but with a greater range of motion and the ability to lift heavier weight. Elevating your back on a box or bench allows for more muscle tension at the top of the movement, which means more targeted growth. You can vary your feet placement or add weight, or even create lateral resistance with a band around the knees for an extra booty burn.
- Cable kick-back: Zero in on your backside at the end of a workout with some single-leg cable kick-backs using an ankle or foot strap. This movement completely isolates the glutes and can be done in several variations. My favorites include donkey kick-backs, straight-leg kick-backs, and angled kick-backs.
You've heard of the pump, right? Whenever you hear this phrase from a fellow fitness enthusiast, they're talking about the swelling they experience due to the massive amount of blood pumping into working muscle tissue. All that extra blood carries oxygen and nutrients necessary to help that muscle grow.
To maximize your glute growth, you must chase a "booty pump." The best way to do this is by performing 4 or more sets of lightweight exercises with high repetitions and short rest periods. Do this, and glute growth is guaranteed!
Volume training can be done with both compound and isolation exercises, but it is important to complete a minimum of 4 sets of every exercise to really maximize the pump. Bring your volume training to the next level by incorporating supersets or giant sets into your leg routine.
Cardio's Contribution to Shapely Glutes
Lifting weights is essential to building the booty you've been dreaming about, but that doesn't mean you should completely neglect cardio. Intense cardio sessions that target the glutes and burn calories will help you smooth and define the muscles in your backside.
The stair climber is great for targeting the glutes. Start with 1-minute booty-blasting intervals followed by a minute or two of active recovery, or just put your earbuds in and go all out for every other song.
You can also take your booty-sculpting cardo outside. Find a track or some outdoor stairs, and hit each climb as hard as you can, focusing on squeezing through the glutes with each step. Just add 20-minutes of post-workout cardio to any of the above booty-building techniques, and you're golden.
By supplementing your lifting with different exercises, volume training, and a small amount of cardio, you'll be able to tone and shape the butt you've always wanted. Time to ditch the cover-ups and flaunt what you train hard for!