Butts come in all shapes and sizes, but not everyone knows that you actually can have some influence over how your butt looks, if you work hard enough at it.

In this article, I’ll be introducing you to the best butt shaping exercises that I know. In addition, you’ll learn why it’s important to understand what muscles actually make up your butt (yes, there’s more than just one!), and which ones you’ll want to train to achieve your best butt shape.

There’s More to Life Than Squats

I’ve been there and done that when it comes to trying to find good butt exercises that will actually shape your butt.

As with most things, my first point of call was google. Now, the internet is abound with all kinds of butt workouts, but I’ve found that whenever I really try and drill down into getting some specific exercises to really target the shape of my butt, I’ve been let down.

Most sites will give the same answer time and time again. What exercise should I do for my butt? SQUATS.
squat sillhouette
While the squat is a good exercise for the glutes, it doesn’t really do it for me when I’m looking for proper ways to influence the shape of my behind. For one, I used to have trouble actually feeling squats in my butt. The reason is because it’s a quadricep-dominant exercise and if you have inactive glutes (like the majority of people), your butt muscles just won’t pull their weight in the squat.

So, if you have this problem and squats don’t seem to target your glutes, what options do you have left?
The good news is: Plenty. There are many many exercises that work the butt muscles, and I’ll be introducing you to some shortly.

Targeting The Right Muscles

The first thing you’ll want to do if you’re interested in learning what the best butt shaping exercises are, is to actually learn about how your butt works!

Having a good understanding of the glute muscle group is essential to allow you to get an understanding of the types of exercises will help shape your butt. If you’re not already acquainted with your butt, check out our Buttocks Anatomy 101 article first so that you can start to visualize which muscles we’ll be targeting with these butt shaping exercises.

It’s been shown that visualizing a muscle movement/contraction while working out can lead to a more effective workout, in fact, even just visualizing by itself can improve the strength of a muscle.

If you just glanced over that previous sentence, please go back and read it again. What it’s saying is actually quite incredible: you can use just the power of your mind to trick your muscles into thinking you’ve been exercising them.

“I’m at the gym… I’m deadlifting 140 lb…. my butt is looking fantastic..”

While we won’t be taking it to this level of inactivity, I hope it highlights the importance of learning about your muscle anatomy! Visualizing your muscles squeezing while you are exercising will drastically increase your shaping results.

The Best Butt Shaping Exercises Hit These Muscles

In my experience, the best butt shaping exercises are those that hit the upper glutes, which can often be neglected. In muscular terms, these are your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles.

Gluteal muscles anatomy
Gluteus Maximus (Yellow), Gluteus Medius (Blue) and Gluteus Minimus (Red) are the main muscles that contribute to the shape of the buttocks. image credit: CFCF via Wikimedia Commons cc

Why these muscles and not the gluteus maximus?

Your gluteus maximus is also extremely important to butt shape, but because it’s so large and covers such a big area, any strength and size increases in this muscle appear to happen more slowly.

The upper glutes on the other hand, are smaller muscles, but if you can increase the size of these (and many people can, with surprisingly little training), you will get more ‘bang for your buck’. Maybe a poor analogy there, but that’s supposed to translate to: more visual results with less training effort.

The catch? You need to be able to target these muscles effectively. So remember: upper glutes! Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus!

In addition, the position of these muscles means that they help you with the ‘anti-sagging’ look. Most people with weak butt muscles can tend to have a butt that simply suffers from the effects of gravity – most of the shape of the butt is in the bottom part of the cheeks.

Strengthening and toning up the upper glute muscles counteracts this, and you will start to develop a nice roundness and fullness to your butt that is generally accepted as pretty damn sexy. Bonus!

This is the kind of upper glute definition that I’m talking about! It gives a nice round shape and adds fullness to the butt.

Okay, so what about the gluteus maximus? Isn’t it the biggest muscle in the butt so you should focus on targeting it with exercises?

In my opinion, yes and no. Because all of the gluteal muscles tend to work together in some movements, it is possible to inadvertently work the gluteus maximus without doing exercises that specifically target it the most. Even just one exercise that works the gluteus maximus is enough to keep things developing in this area, so I usually just include one good gluteus maximus exercise and then try to focus the rest of my routine on the upper glutes.

Butt Shaping Exercises

Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is just about the best exercise you can do for building up a nice booty. If you only do one exercise, this is the one you’ll want to learn. It mainly works the gluteus maximus, but is quite good at activating the upper glutes in the process.

Image credit: ScottHermanFitness via Youtube
Image credit: ScottHermanFitness via Youtube

The following exercises all target the upper glutes very nicely. Keep in mind that these muscles are primarily used for hip stabilization and rotation, so the movements are not necessarily strenuous. Using a good visualization technique while you are exercising (in order to get the right muscles activating) is crucial.

Fire Hydrants

Starting off with the fire hydrant exercise is a great way to activate the upper glutes and get them ready for more serious moves.

Here’s what it looks like in the straight-leg variation, but keeping your upper leg bent is a good starting point to learn this move:

Lying Side Leg Raise

These lying down side leg raises also use your hip abduction muscles, which means your upper glutes are getting a good workout.

Lateral Band Walks

Also known as Resistance Band Monster Walks or cross band walks, these are a fantastic way to get those upper glutes activating and firing.

Band Seated Abduction

Another great upper glutes activator exercise. Click here to find out how to do the band seated abduction exercise.

Standing Hip Abduction

Standing hip abductions can be done with no equipment, but once you get the hang of these, you’ll want to add some resistance in order to get the best booty-building results.


There’s more to butt exercises than just your standard squat, deadlift and lunge. While these exercises are great, they don’t necessarily shape the glute muscles the best.

Targeting the upper glutes in your workouts can give you a better shaping effect and give the appearance of a rounder and more lifted butt.

Exercises which activate the upper glute muscles are great for shaping the butt, and these often involve abduction or lateral movements. Incorporating these moves along with a proven favorite like the hip thrust will get you some good shaping results.

Best Butt Shaping Exercises

2 thoughts on “Best Butt Shaping Exercises

    • August 16, 2016 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Neveah :) Happy that you have got some value from this!


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