• Gabriel Davila

4 Exercises That Are Better Than Squats at Building a Great Butt

Ah, squats. The supposed king of leg exercises. The #1 exercise if you want to build a better butt. Or, is it?

Squats are a phenomenal exercise; if you aren't doing them, you need to do them. Not only do they build great strength in the legs, they are also a primary movement pattern. Us humans squat, it's what we do; we squat when we pick something up, when we think, even when we poop. If you want a bigger butt, you need to still squat.

But squats are not the best and only exercise to build the derriere. Let me explain.

Squats Are Usually Anterior Dominant

Squats do work the glutes, no argument there. But the movement is anterior dominant, which means there is a greater bend in the knees vs the hips. More knee bend equals more quadriceps involvement. While there is still a good amount of hip bend and glute activation, you really need to get more hip extension involved. Movements that have more hip extension and hinging will recruit the glutes and hamstrings to a much higher degree.

The glutes have the potential to be one of the strongest muscles in our body; we owe it to ourselves to use it to it's full potential. Some benefits of a stronger posterior chain:

  • more athleticism

  • stronger knees

  • stronger back

  • pants that don't fit

  • jealous looks from random strangers

Again, squats still work the glutes. If you want a bigger butt, you still need to add some form of squatting in you routine. But this post is about the exercises that you're missing out on, so below we go over those bootylicious movements.

4 Exercises That Build a Better Butt

1. Romanian Deadlift

Romanian deadlifts are a great deadlift alternative that in my opinion are better than the conventional deadlift, with the main reason being that it recruits the glutes and hamstrings to a much greater degree than a regular deadlift.

This exercise is also great for building strength, as you can load it pretty high once you get the form down. You can do it with barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and if you don't have weight, even people (if you can find a willing participant). This move can also increase hamstring flexibility, which is a great plus. To do this movement, really focus on sitting the butt back as far as you can, like a string is tied to the waist and is pulling your hips back. Use this movement for primary strength work, sticking in rep ranges of 5-6.

2. Single Leg Hip Thrust

Hip thrusts are traditionally done with two legs, and added load placed on the hips. The reason I like the single leg variation so much more is because it's easy to load (you don't need that much weight, bodyweight is usually enough if you do it right) and it just sucks in a terribly good way. You're getting great hip extension, which means a real booty-burn. Depending on your strength level, you might only be able to get a handful of reps; if you're strong, use this in the 10-15 rep range. You can also add a dumbbell or a sandbag on your hips for extra resistance.

3. Reverse Lunge With Forward Lean

Lunges are usually more quad dominant, but that's where the reverse lunge comes in. This exercise involves stepping backward, which engages the glutes at the start of the movement. Instead of decelerating forward and loading the quads like in most lunge variations, this one decelerates backwards, thus loading the glutes and hammies more.

With an added forward lean and a big step back, this becomes a posterior dominant exercise. It's also a fairly easy exercise to execute, as the movement is stationary, so it doesn't require the same balance as some other single leg exercises. You add extra resistance by holding dumbbells or kettlebells in you hands. This move works best in a low to moderate rep range, around 6-8 reps per leg.

4. Pull Throughs

Another favorite of mine are pull throughs. This exercise is best done for higher reps - around the 15-20 rep range - because if it's too heavy you won't be able to execute it properly. This is also great for beginners, as the movement teaches you how to hinge; the weight pulls your hips backward, forcing you to stick the butt back and hinge.

Takeaway Notes

Squats are great, and you need to do them. But you are missing out on potential benefits if you aren't varying your exercises. Not only do these posterior dominant exercises bestow great booty gains, but they also increase strength, power, and prevent injury. Work these movements into your workout routine and see for yourself how they help.

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