When you want to train your butt, squats are an obvious choice. They’re simple to do, require no equipment (unless you choose to add weights for an extra challenge), and most importantly, they work. But just like any other workout, doing the same thing the same way over and over doesn’t let you keep challenging your body, an important factor for inciting change in your muscles. Plus, regular squats can get kinda boring, especially when you’re doing a ton of them.
Jessica Bolbach, celebrity trainer and cofounder of boutique fitness studio KORE in New York City, tells SELF that while a standard squat is a great move to have on hand, trying different variations will allow you to work your glutes from every angle.
The three main muscles in the butt—the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus—and your quads and hamstrings all work together to give your butt its strength and shape. “By switching up the angles of your squats, you’re targeting different parts of those muscles,” Bolbach says. Whether your goal is to change the shape of those muscles or to just make them super strong, it requires a well-rounded approach (pun absolutely intended).
Next time you’re doing squats, try one of the variations below. You can also just add them onto the end of your regular cardio or strength workout to show your booty a little extra love.
1.Bulgarian Split Squat
Bolbach says this is one of the hardest butt moves out there. It’s kind of like a reverse lunge on steroids. “Instead of using the front leg to pick you up, you put all the weight on the back leg and launch yourself up through the back leg and butt,” she explains. “That will make your ass burn like crazy.” You’ll feel this one mostly in the lower part of your butt, Bolbach says, but it hits all three areas of the glutes: the maximus, minimus, and medius.
- Position yourself into a staggered stance. Prop your rear foot on a bench or chair. Your front leg should be 2 to 3 feet in front of the bench.
- Bend at your knees and hips to lower into a split squat.
- Make sure to keep your back straight, shoulders back, and chest up.
- Push through the heel of your standing leg as you straighten the knees and return to start. Tip: At the bottom of the movement, your front knee should be above your shoelaces; adjust your stance as needed after trying one or two reps.
- Do 15 reps on one leg, then switch sides. Do 3 or 4 sets.
For this move, Bolbach says to pretend you have a wall behind you to maintain a straight, flat back. “When you stand back up, use your butt to raise you and keep your back in line with the wall. Don’t let your torso lean forward or backward,” she says. This one targets the gluteus maximus (the biggest part of your butt) and the hamstrings.
- Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart in front of a bench, plyo box, or chair.
- Perform a deep squat and sit down on the box or chair for just a couple seconds, letting your muscles relax.
- Press through the heels as you stand up and return to start. Squeeze your butt as hard as you can at the top.
- Do 3 or 4 sets of 15 reps.