4 Exercises That’ll Give You a Better Butt Than Squats

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One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about the glutes and how to make them look phenomenal. A lot of people are on the right track when it comes to working their butt, using exercises like the squat, deadlifts, and lunges, but there's much more to the story than just those.

While the aforementioned are some of the best total body exercises and should absolutely be used as staples in your weekly workout program, they're not actually the most effective when it comes to building a nice, round, and shapely butt. 

If you're really looking to build up your glutes and get some mass on your butt, there are 5 exercises that, in terms of muscle recruitment and hypertrophy, are actually superior to squats, deadlifts, and lunges. When performed together in a glute day (once or twice a week), they provide the variation, metabolic damage, and muscle damage that is absolutely crucial to building a fantastic rear-end. Without further ado, let's get right down to the exercises. 

Exercises That'll Give You a Better Butt Than the Squat

Hip Thrust

hip thrust

The hip thrust is the glute movement. It allows your to target your gluteus maximus with some serious weight. There are a number of variations of this movement, pick at least one to do (feel free to vary it up) and make sure this is the cornerstone of your glute workout. The heavier weight that you're able to use with this exercise will achieve a high level of hypertrophy in both your upper and lower glutes and give your butt that 3D ‘bubble look'. Pick from the barbell hip thrust, barbell glute bridge, band hip thrust, American hip thrust, and the single leg hip thrust. Just click on each one for a detailed video on how to perform the exercise. 

Back Extension

back extension

Yes, this has the word ‘back' in it – but peformed properly, the back extension is primarily a glute (and posterior chain) recruiter. Doing some variation of back extensions (I recommend a horizontal back extension) is an absolutely critical piece of the glute puzzle and you should absolutely include one in each and every butt workout. You can use your bodyweight for high reps, banded or weighted extensions for medium/low reps. 

Hip Extension

pendulum quadruped hip extension

An open chain hip extension, like the pendulum quadruped hip extension (my recommendation) is a relatively unknown movement but a number of gyms still have a machine that allows this (it'll be the one that no one ever uses because they don't know what to do with it). If your gym doesn't have one of those then you can actually use the leg curl machine to accomplish the movement satisfactorily, or even a smith machine.


goblet sq

No glute session would be complete without one of these movements. I wouldn't suggest doing both of these in the same session, but alternating them would be a good plan. If you're used to doing regular squats, then try a variation of the exercise on your glute day. Goblet squats, front squats, box squats, or Bulgarian split squats would fit the bill nicely. 

Related Reading: The Benefits of Squats

As with all hypertrophy training, your overall goal with your butt workout is to get stronger. Try to increase the weight or number of reps/sets you do every workout. Continually overloading your muscles in this manner with new and stronger stimuli is the only way to build muscle and subsequently, the only way to improve the shape of your butt. Utilizer this principle of progression in your butt workouts, and you'll see excellent progress in a couple of months. As always, leave any questions in the comments sections below. 

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  • Thalita

    hi there! My legs are bulky by my butt is in square shape and small comparing to my legs. Is there any exercise I can do to make it rounder and bigger while not increasing the muscle mass in my tighs? Thanks a lot!

    • Josh Vales, CPT

      These exercises will fit the bill! Beyond that, how the muscles actually build up is almost entirely up to your genetics.