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How to Build a Great Butt

We all call them something different, butt, glutes, gluteus maximus, hips, bum, buttocks, booty. I’m not here to bore you with all the details. It’s no secret that big round glutes are IN. Thank goodness.

I grew up idolizing the tiny actresses of the ’90s and I was always trying to be skinnier. As a result, I was insecure and didn’t embrace my womanly curves. I used to be embarrassed about having to buy a larger size bikini bottom than top. I was embarrassed by the stretch marks on my bum.

But when I joined the world of weightlifting, Crossfit, and fitness I realized I could shape my backside into something strong, curvy, and feminine instead of trying to eat like a bird and look like a stick and I’m very happy about it.

What is the Best Exercise to Build a better butt?

Do squats really make your butt bigger? If you think you must do squats to build your butt, you don’t!

There are SO many alternatives to squatting, some of which do more to shape the glutes than squats. This is great news for those with knee problems or those who just suck at squatting, like myself.

Today I’ve got 5 exercises to try instead of squats to build bigger and firmer glutes!

how to build a great butt. 5 exercises for a strong and round bum

1. The Deadlift

My Overall MVP goes to the old fashioned deadlift. There are many different types of deadlifts to keep you occupied and busy.

  • Kettlebell Deadlift

If you are a beginner or working out at home you may want to start with the Kettlebell deadlift.

Do 3-4 sets of 10-20 reps and pick a weight that challenges you!


  • Romanian Deadlift

Another great type of deadlift that can be done at home with dumbbells is great for everyone from the beginner to the advanced lifter! These RDLs (Romanian Deadlifts) are great glute exercises to do at home or the gym to get a lifted and firm butt and thighs.

Try 2-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions.

  • Barbell Deadlift

Once you feel confident, Barbell deadlifts are important for building a bigger bum. They are not only the best exercise for your glutes but are also a great leg, core, and back exercise. You will love how deadlifts sculpt your thighs and leave them firmer than ever.

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Try 3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions a couple of days a week!

I chose the deadlift as my MVP because in addition to getting great glutes you get the added benefit of working almost every other part of your body including a strong upper back, strong arms, tighter abdomen and core, and firmer thighs and legs.

There is another exercise that focuses on the glutes even more and many would hand it the MVP card. I love it so I don’t disagree with these people, but it focuses almost completely on the glutes. It should definitely be included in your glute workout routine!

2. The Hip Thrust

These are well worth the setup and vital to building strong glutes that look amazing! If you are looking for a glute exercise to add mass to your butt, give it a try!

Try 3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions a couple of days a week!

  • Glute Bridge

For an at-home workout or beginner glute isolation exercise similar to the hip thrust try the banded glute bridge! You can also add a band to your hip thrusts or do the glute bridges without the band. But the band gives an extra pump you are going to want to build a toned butt and hips. My favorite hip bands can be found on Amazon!

Try 2-3 Sets of 20-30 Repetitions for a great glute pump!

3. Banded Monster Walk

These are another great exercise to do at home because all you need is a glute band!

Try 2-3 Sets of 20 Repetitions in each direction and feel those glute muscles burn!

4. Reverse Lunges

Lunges will work your glutes while also shaping and toning your legs. Are lunges better than squats? I think so. Reverse lunges are great for beginners. As you get stronger try walking lunges or Bulgarian split squats for an added challenge! If you want to make reverse lunges more difficult put a plate or raised platform about 2-4″ tall under your front foot and step off of it as you reverse lunge! You will definitely feel the burn!

Try 2-4 Sets of 6-12 Repetitions on each leg a couple of days a week. The amount of repetitions you do depends on how heavy the dumbbells are that you use! As you improve at doing this exercise be sure to pick up heavier dumbbells and challenge yourself!

5. Dumbbell Step-ups

Step-ups can be done easily and they are very effective for building your glutes! Don’t let their simplicity fool you, you will feel sore after doing this exercise for your glutes and legs!

Try 2-4 Sets of 6-12 Repetitions on each leg a couple of times a week. Just like the lunges, the reps you choose to do depends on the weight of the dumbbells! Challenge yourself while keeping good form!


What food makes your butt bigger?

This may sound like a silly question but simply put, eat plenty of calories and enough protein.

Do you need more protein?

If you want to build muscle you may need more protein, try to track your food and macros (protein, fat, and carbs) on My Fitness Pal for 3 or so days and get an idea of how much protein you eat. A good goal is to match your grams of protein to your body weight in pounds. For instance, if you weight 135 pounds try to eat 135 grams of protein.

Do you need to use whey protein supplements?  You don’t have to, and it is important to try to eat most of your nutrients from whole foods such as plants and high-quality animal sources. I have a post all about how to eat more protein and a post all about How to Eat Healthy When You Don’t Want to that is VERY popular because I used to hate eating healthy!

I try to use protein supplements such as protein powder for shakes or protein bars, not more than once a day! Because we are ballin’ on a budget and busy with two kids, it does help me to get plenty of protein into my diet.

I also recommend Clean Cuisine as it is a balanced and wonderful approach to healthy eating!

Eat plenty of food

A good way to get an idea of how much food you are eating is by tracking your calories and macros for 3-7 days in the My Fitness Pal app. This will show you how much food you are eating. You can then use this information to see if you should increase your food intake to help you build muscle.

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If you’ve been eating very few calories for a long time (in college I ate about 1200 calories or less every day and very little protein. I had zero energy and zero muscle. It was terrible. I love food and now I maintain my weight at 2100 calories and I LOVE it), it will be very good for your body if you can slowly increase your calories by eating more protein, fruits, and veggies (this is not me giving you permission to eat more bagels. I’m sorry.).

Once you build muscle and get your body used to consuming more calories, you will be able to lose fat much easier while eating more calories and having more energy. This is the ultimate goal, I want you to become a fat burning machine!

Why Should You Build a Stronger and Rounder Butt?

Other than the obvious perk of aesthetics, building a strong butt will help you have better posture, protect you from injury, and it will help you be more athletic.

Keep in mind, if you are doing lots of cardio and no strength training your glutes will get smaller and if you run without building a strong butt, you could get injured!

If you are new to strength training, check out my post ALL about how to strength train! In this post, I’ve tried to answer ALL of your questions. If you have more questions just comment on this or that post and I’ll be sure to respond!

You can also grab my FREE Beginner Strength Training Program for Women right here! I’ve designed this program to be simple so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. I have YouTube tutorials for every single movement and a printable PDF for you to edit and fill in as you go!

beginner strength trianing program for women phase 1 progress tracker

Leave a comment below and let me know if you try any of these exercises and find them helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions!