alive logo

No Butt About It

It's time to tone your tush


No Butt About It

Our butt is comprised of three muscles. The first and outermost layer is our gluteus maximus. Learn how to work it best with the following butt exercises.

Our butt (or, in technical terms, our gluteal area) is comprised of three muscles. The first and outermost layer is our gluteus maximus muscle. This muscle is the largest of the gluteal area (some peoples’ being much larger than others, much to their chagrin).

One of the most powerful muscles in the body, its function is to extend and outwardly rotate the hip and extend the trunk. Contrary to popular usage, it is not meant to be sat on all day long.

The other two muscles located around our rear end are the gluteus medius muscle, responsible for rotating and abducting the leg, and the gluteus minimus, the smallest glute muscle located deep within the hip joint.

Strong Butt, Strong Back

A strong rear end strengthens the lower back. This is a necessity for anyone who suffers with lower back pain as well as for those who play sports. The glutes play a major role in running, kicking, lunging, and squatting–movements used in many commonly played sports.

In 2006 the American Council on Exercise commissioned and released a study to determine the best exercises for our gluteus maximus muscle. Using electromyographic (EMG) analysis, researchers compared the muscle recruitment patterns of eight gluteal exercises.
They tested the squat, single-leg squat, vertical leg press, horizontal leg press, quadruped hip extension, step-up, lunge, and four-way hip extension. As the squat elicited the most gluteal involvement, it was used by researchers as a baseline to compare the results of the other exercises.

The good news is that all eight worked the glute muscles, proving that these are easy muscles to target. However, of the eight, the vertical and horizontal leg press fired up the least amount of glute muscle and the quadruped hip extension, four-way hip extension, and squat fired up the most gluteal muscle.

The Best Exercises for Our Gluteus Maximus Muscle


  • Step forward with one foot and drop your back knee down toward the floor.
  • Make sure that you keep the front knee directly over the centre of the foot.
  • Push down and forward through your back heel to return to the start position.
  • Repeat on the other leg, alternating 10 to 15 reps per side.


  • Stand with good posture behind a tall bench, step, or sturdy chair.
  • Place your left foot on the top and transfer your weight to that leg as you step up.
  • Keep the right leg passive, especially as you step up, tap the top of the bench with your right foot and then slowly lower yourself using the left leg only.
  • Perform 10 to 15 reps with one leg and then switch.

Single-Leg Squats

  • Stand with good posture on top of a tall bench, step, or sturdy chair.
  • Allow your left leg to dangle and slowly bend the right leg pushing your bum rearward as you squat down.
  • Come down as low as you feel comfortable and then come back so your leg is fully extended.
  • Be sure that your right knee tracks with the second toe and stays behind your laces.
  • Steady yourself by staring at something stationary; this will help maintain your balance.
  • Perform 10 to 15 reps with the right leg and then switch legs.

Quadruped Hip Extensions

  • On your hands and knees, slightly contract your abdominals to stabilize your torso and spine.
  • Lift one leg up behind you, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees.
  • Lift the leg until the bottom of the foot is pointing toward the ceiling and the upper thigh is lined up with the body. Repeat 10 to 15 times and change legs.


As a trainer, I recommend that you try performing the squat on an unbalanced surface (such as a wobble board or BOSU) to fire up even more muscles.

  • To squat, make sure that you press your bum rearward, as if you were going to sit in a chair.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and lower yourself as low as you feel comfortable.


Resilient Relationships

Resilient Relationships

Building the strength to sail through hard times

Isabela Vera

Isabela Vera

Come Alive

Come Alive

Self-transformation at The Haven wellness retreat

Tracy Peternell

Tracy Peternell