Pretty much every woman has tight hips, thanks in large part to all the time we spend sitting. You might feel this tightness when you lunge or even when you stand up after sitting for a long time. Or you might notice that you can’t do a full squat (that is, you can’t squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, which is considered proper form).
While you might think that hip stretches will ease the tightness, they’re only one part of the solution. Strong glutes (butt muscles) are key to happy hips. “If the glutes are not strong, other muscles in the hips tend to compensate for the lack of strength in the glutes, which can cause them to become tight and overused,” registered clinical exercise physiologist Kelly Drew tells SELF.
Strong glutes keep your hips, thighs, and pelvis in the proper position as you run and during exercises such as squats and lunges. They also help keep your knees from going too far to the front, back, or side during these exercises, which can place undue stress on the knee and cause knee pain.
The problem: A lot of the best exercises for your glutes, like squats, are hard to do properly if your hips are tight. Many common glute exercises require bending in way that just isn’t comfortable—and may even be painful—if you have tight hips. So what’s a woman to do?
If your hips feel tight during squats, lunges, or deadlifts, try adding the butt exercises below into your fitness routine. All of them are good options for people with tight hips, allowing you to perform the exercises with good form and maximize your results.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Lift your hips about 6 inches, then slowly lower, pausing just above the floor, for 1 rep. Do 12 reps. Tip: If you have one, squeeze a soft, nonweighted ball between your knees during this move.
2. Single-Leg Chair Squat
Sit in a chair with your arms at your chest. Raise your left leg out in front of you. Stand up out of the chair using your right leg (keep your left leg off the floor). Lower back to start for 1 rep. Do 12 reps on one leg, rest, then switch sides and repeat.
3. Single-Leg Deadlift
Stand on your right leg. Hinge forward at your hips, keeping your right leg relatively straight. Reach both hands forward to touch your right knee. To make it harder, hold a weight in your right hand as pictured. Let your left leg kick out behind you for balance. Return to start for 1 rep. Do 12 reps on one side, rest, then switch sides and repeat.
Stand facing a step or stable platform 6 to 10 inches high. Step onto it with your right foot, then bring your left foot up, lifting your left knee until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Step down with your left foot, then your right. Do 12 reps per leg.
5. Wall Squat
Stand with your back against a wall, feet about 12 inches from the wall, hip-width apart. Bend your knees and hips to slide down the wall, lowering your body about 12 inches. Keep your weight on your heels. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds for 1 rep. Do 5 to 8 reps.
6. Reverse Lunge
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Take a big step back with your right foot. Bend both knees, lowering yourself until your right knee is about 6 inches off the floor. Push off your right foot to stand up, feet together, for 1 rep. Do 12 reps on one leg, then switch sides. Keep the movement slow and controlled to really target the glutes.
This article originally appeared on self.com