Weight Loss

These Are the Butt Exercises You’re Doing Wrong and What to Do Instead, According to 4 Trainers

When it comes to booty gains, you don’t want to mess around. What if we told you that certain exercises you thought were making all the difference actually were working different muscles? We recruited the help of four trainers to break down exactly what’s wrong with certain moves like squats (yes, squats!) if your main goal is to grow your glutes.

Trainiac personal trainer and EXOS performance specialist Stephen Foster, CSCS, explained to POPSUGAR that oftentimes we do exercises intended for the glutes, but they activate other muscles instead. Stephen noted that when choosing exercises, it’s important to incorporate moves that focus on movement from front to back, side to side, and rotational.

Moves That Actually Aren’t Working Your Butt (or You’re Doing Wrong)

  • Squats: Almost all of the trainers we spoke to pointed to squats right away as an exercise that doesn’t target the glutes as much as you might think; rather, it targets your quads. Stephen said that squats are one of the best exercises to work the lower body in general (bonus: core engagement, too!). He explained that even though the glutes “play a huge role when squatting, due to positioning, the quadriceps eat up a lot of that work.”
  • Bodyweight Kickbacks (or Donkey Kicks): NASM-certified personal trainer Allison Tibbs said that kickbacks are a move that, if done wrong, actually won’t work your glutes. “While this exercise feels effective because you do feel the burn, most people do this move incorrectly. They focus more on the kick back and, in turn, they load up their lower back and hip flexors more than they do their glutes,” she explained.
  • Forward Lunges: Stephen said that, overall, forward lunges are great, but the error with this exercise is in the positioning. When you return to your starting position by propelling yourself upward and back with your leading leg, your body relies pretty heavily on your quads as opposed to your glutes. A minor tweak to make this work and shift emphasis to the glutes, he said, is to turn the movement into a split squat (which we’ll talk about later).

Ahead, check out moves approved by these trainers (and more) that will actually target your booty. Note: this is not a workout; instead, you can add some of these exercises to your next leg day or at-home routine.

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