Building a strong booty is about more than squats, and today I have a bodyweight sculpting circuit for you to add that targets all the important stuff.
To tone and lift the rear, it’s important to understand the muscles that work with our glutes to support and stabilize us while we’re running, walking, standing and all the rest.
Your glutes are made up of an interconnected network of muscles that attach between your pelvic bone, sacrum (tailbone) and the head of your femur – the big bone at the top of your leg.
There are a few layers of muscle there, superficial to deep. You’ve got your main working muscles, the gluteus medius, minimus and maximus – all of which perform a variety of duties, including rotating the hips in and out, out to the side and in, and extension.
Below your 3 main glute muscles you have a series of stabilizing muscles called the obturators – also known as the “deep six.” These guys really work hard all the time to keep you balanced and to let you know where you are in space (proprioception). One of the reasons I do a lot of balancing movements in my workouts is to activate, balance and strengthen these hard-working muscles. The stronger and more stable they are the more easily you can maintain good form and alignment as you move – allowing you to last longer, and get stronger.
Other muscles that influence the shape (and stability) of your rear include the hamstrings and lower back muscles.
We want to remember that creating balance in the body is what really allows our muscles to develop to their full potential, so just focusing on “glute exercises” all day long and neglecting the muscles that surround and stabilize your booty will only hurt your progress.
Creating a truly shapely posterior will happen much more quickly and effectively if you include exercises that target your back muscles, hamstrings and glutes – as part of your complete strength training program.
BONUS – to maximize and really see the shape of your sculpted posterior, consistently eat a healthy, balanced diet!
Booty Sculpt Circuit (no equipment)Click to expand and see all workout move descriptions.
Format: 1 minute each move (or split 30/30 each leg when doing a single leg move); repeat 4 times
Move 1: Elevated Single Leg Squat Hop (30/30)
- This is an awesome, advanced move that will activate your deep stabilizing muscles and your working muscles simultaneously.
- Begin with one foot behind you on any stable surface about knee height and step far enough forward so that when you squat your knee doesn’t go over your toe.
- Use control to squat down and explode up to a jump. This does not need to be a big movement to be effective.
- Be sure to keep the weight back and press through your heel to really activate the back of the legs and glutes and protect your knee.
- Keep your chest lifting at all times, don’t round forward. Form is so important here, especially with the jump. Remember that where your weight shifts changes what muscles will fire and work to support you, so to really protect your joints and maximize the work in the glutes keep your weight back and stay upright.
- If this is too challenging you’ve got a couple effective alternatives. You can take out the hop, you can turn it into a 2-leg squat with a hop, or you can simplify it to a basic body squat.
Move 2: Elevated Single Leg Bridge Lift (30/30)
- A total booty and hamstring move, the elevation adds just a little more intensity, and the single leg element will force you to engage your core stabilizers as well as your lower back muscles.
- You can use any surface you like, just keep it around knee height.
- Really focus here on keeping your hips square to the ceiling – don’t allow them to roll up on one side or the other and keep the leg that’s up straight for extra resistance.
- Focus on your glutes as you squeeze. This is a movement that begins with the hips, not the back.
- To change this move up, you can do it with both feet on the elevated surface, you can take it down to the ground and still elevate one leg, then the other, or do basic bridge lifts from the floor.
Move 3: Squats on Toes
- This is a variation on our basic body squat that makes it harder to balance upright, effectively engaging our posterior chain from our calves to our back.
- It’s very important to have something to lightly rest your hands on (counter, back of a stable chair, wall, etc) to help keep you upright.
- Even though you’ll be up on your toes, you want to really focus on accomplishing the lift with your hips – not your quads. The more you pitch forward the more this will engage the quads. Naturally they are working during the squat, but you can really target your booty here too by maintaining a straight back and upright chest.
- If you are super advanced you can totally try this without a wall, or simply try taking your hands off the wall and raising them overhead ballerina style, or out to your sides.
- If this is a tough move, try standing upright in front of the wall and do body weight calf raises with a body squat in between each one.
Move 4: Superman Extensions
- Targeting the erector spinae column (those 3 long skinny muscles that run up and down our spine and keep us erect) and the lower back muscles is a smart move for lifting and shaping the glutes. These muscles attach to your pelvic bones and are connected to your glutes by the deep internal fascia layer. Strengthening your back creates strength and stability through your entire core, and will create the lifted shape that I personally am going for 🙂
- Simply lay on your stomach and extend through your arms and legs.
- Keep your feet fairly close together and lift up and down at the same time.
- To make this is a little easier, you can hold the extension without doing lifts.
Move 5: Squats on Toes to Alternating Knee Crunch
- This is a build on the squats on your toes.
- Once you have mastered that move, take it to the next level by adding a set of these right at the end of the circuit. You’ll get a nice double whammy on the buns and calves, plus add a little bonus core workout.
- The point of this movement is to flow through it quickly to get your heart rate up a bit.
- Use the same good form as you did before, keeping your weight back and drive up through the hips each time as you propel your alternating knees.
- If being up on your toes causes you to lose your form, or it’s just a little too advanced, keep your heels down and focus on doing excellent body squats and add the knee lift for the core component.
This program will give you a full body, complete program – with a special emphasis on the booty and the abs!