We're living in a golden era for the booty. And if you're looking to #werq those muscles (better known as the glutes), you've got a ton of options that go way beyond your standard squat. Where to start? We consulted master trainer Courtney Paul, founder of the CPX Experience, who gave us 11 moves that are challenging, glute-toning, and totally unexpected. “Maintaining strong glutes is essential for the body to operate and function properly as a whole,” he says. “When your glutes are weak, the hip flexors — which are the glutes opposing muscles — will begin to overpower, pulling the body forward and creating bad posture and lower back pain.” To do these exercises, you'll need dumbbells (and a kettlebell, if you can find one, otherwise, a single dumbbell will work), a mat and a step. Let's get to work!
1. Single Leg Deadlift
Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold two dumbbells at waist level, palms facing you. Keeping back flat and engaging your ab muscles, bend from the hips and slowly lower weights towards the floor, keeping them close to your body, while simultaneously lifting left leg up behind you. Stop when your chest is parallel to the floor. Hold for one second, and then return to standing. That's one rep. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps, then switch legs.
2. Squat to Wood Chop
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, holding one dumbbell with both hands in front of you. Pushing knees outward, sit down into a squat position, keeping knees behind your feet. Squeeze your butt muscles and push through your heels to stand up, lifting dumbbell overhead towards the right. Twist your torso slightly, but keep legs and feet still. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps, then twist to the left side.
3. Squat to Calf Raise
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping spine straight and ab muscles engaged, sit down into a squat, bringing your thighs as close to parallel to the floor as you can. Then, squeeze your butt muscles and push through your heels to come up to standing, rising up onto the balls of your feet. Lower back into a squat and repeat for 10 to 12 reps.
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4. Wall Sit Knee Extension
Stand with back against wall, holding dumbbells in hands. Keeping back flat against the wall, walk your feet out in front of you. Keeping legs together, squat down until thighs are parallel with the floor. Raise dumbbells overhead, then slowly lower dumbbell in front of you, ending at chest level while simultaneously pushing knees apart and out to the sides. Bring knees back together and raise dumbbell back overhead. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
5. Walking Lunge
Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Step right leg forward and lower down so that right knee is directly over right ankle, left hip is directly over left knee. Squeeze your butt muscles and push up to stand on right leg, lifting left knee up to chest. Place left leg onto the ground in front of you and repeat exercise on the opposite side. Continue repeating for 10 to 12 reps on each leg.
6. Plyometric 180 Squat
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell with both hands in front of you. Pushing knees outward, sit down into a squat position. Squeeze your butt muscles and push through your heels to explode up and twist 180 degrees in the air. Land with feet slightly wider than shoulder width and immediately repeat for 10 to 12 reps.
7. Lunge to Shoulder Press
Stand with feet together, dumbbell in each hand. Step right leg forward and lower down so that right knee is directly over right ankle, left hip is directly over left knee. Squeeze your butt muscles and push back up to standing, lifting weights overhead at the top. Repeat for 10 to 12 reps, then switch legs.
8. Weighted Side Lunge
Stand with feet together, one dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step with right leg out to the right side and, keeping back flat, shoulders lifted and left leg extended, bend your right knee and lower butt towards the ground. Don’t let right knee go past right ankle. Using glutes, push through heel to come back to starting position. Repeat with the left leg. Continue alternating for 10 to 12 reps on each side.
9. Deadlift to Double-Down Lunge
Start with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold both dumbbells in hands, palms facing you. Keeping your back flat and your abs engaged, bend from the hips and slowly lower weights towards the floor, keeping them close to your body. Stop when chest is parallel to floor, and return to standing. Step your right leg forward and lower down so that your right knee is directly over right ankle, left hip directly over left knee. Pulse twice, then squeeze your butt muscles and push up to stand. Repeat, alternating which leg you use to lunge on each rep. Do 10 to 12 reps per leg.
10. Alternating Kettlebell Swing
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell in your right hand, palms facing body. Hinging at the hips, bend knees slightly and push your butt backwards, swinging the kettlebell behind you and between your legs, slightly past your knees. Using your butt and leg muscles, push your pelvis forward and come to standing, while simultaneously swinging the kettlebell up to shoulder level. (Your hips should do most of the work). Bring your left hand up to grab the kettlebell. Hinge at the hips and repeat. Continue swinging for 10 to 12 reps with each hand.
11. Bench Up and Overs With Dumbbell
Stand on bench, holding dumbbell with both arms extended out in front of you. Keeping dumbbell extended the whole time, bend your knees and step right foot to the ground, then switch sides, stepping your left foot down. Continue alternating as fast as you can for 30 seconds.
On model: Bra, $52 and tights, $128 at lululemon.com; Top, $30 at Nike.com (similar); Sneakers, $80, Reebok.com (similar)
Mat: Gaiam for Kohl's, $30 at kohls.com; Step: Weider, $30; Kettlebell: Keelo