Researchers Rate the Best Exercises for the Butt (Glutes)

6 Exercises to Get Your Butt in Shape

The lunge exercise.
The lunge exercise. Erik Isakson/Getty Images

You may want to tone your butt and glutes, but you might not know the best ways in which to do so. Researchers have looked at different exercises commonly recommended both for athletic training and for rehabilitation. They can measure how much different exercises activate the glutes to contract. This could result in more muscle strength when you do the exercises that have the most activation. On the other hand, if your goal is endurance, such as in running, you may get more benefits from exercises that activate the glutes a moderate amount.

Testing Glute Exercises

The glutes are the largest and most powerful muscle group of the body. They provide the power necessary for movement and allow the body to retain the erect position after movement. These muscles are essential to motion in a wide variety of sports, especially ones that include any type of running or jumping. There are a number of exercises that target this area of the body directly.

The American Council on Exercise worked with exercise scientists at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, to find most effective exercises for working the gluteus muscles and building a stronger butt. These scientists used electromyographic (EMG) analysis to measure the muscle activation of eight common glute exercises. Their findings are pretty interesting. If you are looking for the best ways to target your glutes, here are their recommendations.

According to the researchers "There was no clear winner, but this study did confirm the value of five exercises—single-leg squats, quadruped hip extensions, step-ups, lunges and four-way hip extensions—as effective alternatives to traditional squats."

Best Butt Exercises

Best Exercise for Gluteus Maximus

Their findings showed that even though squats generated significantly more muscle activation than both the horizontal and vertical leg presses, there was no significant difference in EMG activity when compared to the other exercises.

Best Exercise for Gluteus Medius

The quadruped hip extensions, step-ups, and lunges generated significantly more muscle activation than squats. The horizontal and vertical leg presses generated the least amount of activity.

Best Exercise for Hamstrings

Quadruped hip extensions, step-ups, lunges, and four-way hip extensions showed significantly more EMG activity than squats. The horizontal and vertical leg presses ranked lowest in EMG activity.

Glute Activation Needed After Sitting

It is important to keep in mind that if you sit for a majority of the day, you may have inactive and weak glutes, along with tight hamstrings and hip flexors. Thus, before diving right into these challenging glute strengthening exercises, it is helpful to first do glute activation exercises in order to get your backside firing properly before you begin your workout.

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