Researchers Find Best Exercises for the Butt (Glutes)

6 Exercises to Get Your Butt In Shape

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

Lots of people would like to tone their butt and glutes, but they might not know the best ways in which to do so.

What are the best exercises for the butt and glutes?

This is a common question that a lot of people would like to know the answer to.

Importance of Glutes

The glutes are the largest and most powerful muscle group. They provide 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.

According to the American Council on Exercise and the exercise scientists at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, the most effective exercises for working the gluteus muscles and building a stronger butt can actually be measured.

These researchers and scientists used electromyographic (EMG) analysis to measure the muscle activation of eight common glute exercises. Their finding are pretty interesting. If you are looking for the best ways to target your glutes, here are their recommendations.

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 the Glute Activation Exercises in order to get your backside firing properly before you begin your workout.

Best Butt Exercises

  1. Quadruped Hip Extensions
  2. Lunges
    Also see: Overhead Lunge | Walking Dumbbell Lunge
  3. Step Ups
  4. Squats
  5. Four-Way Hip Extensions
  6. One-Legged Squat

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

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."


Glutes to the Max. ACE FitnessMatters • January/February 2006.