If you’re not a fan of squats, or due to knee issues, don’t feel comfortable dropping low, there’s still hope for your derriere. The revered functional movement is great for building strength, improving mobility and sculpting a curved physique, but it’s not the only exercise that can do the trick.
Single-leg lifts, lateral lunges, and donkey kicks are just a few glute exercises that can help get your booty in gear without getting low. But don’t be fooled, these seven moves, demonstrated by Daily Burn trainers, will still whip your rear into shape. While they don’t require explosive movements like some squat variations, the high reps, pulses and balance moves are guaranteed to make it burn.
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7 Glute Exercises to Tone Your Booty
1. Dirty Dog
This barre-inspired move, also known as the fire hydrant, will give your glutes, outer thighs, and core some serious sculpting action. Just remember to keep your hips square and lifted to get the most out of this exercise. The bent-knee hip extension will give your core and obliques some TLC, too.
How to: Get into tabletop position with your knees directly under your hips and hands under your shoulders (a). Keeping both knees bent, lift your right leg until your right thigh is parallel to the floor (b). Then, extend your right leg straight, with your right foot flexed (c). Bring the right leg back down to the ground, knee bent (d). Repeat for 10 reps, then switch sides.
2. Donkey Kicks
Another highly targeted move, donkey kicks are a great way to fire up the gluteus maximus (the meatiest muscle in your backside, responsible for movement in the hip and thigh). As you kick into gear, make sure to tighten your lower ab muscles and avoid sagging your hips on one side.
How to: Get into tabletop position, keeping your knees directly under your hips, hands under your shoulders and toes tucked (a). Keeping your right knee bent foot flexed and core engaged, press your right foot up towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes as you reach higher. At the top position, your right thigh and foot should be parallel to the floor (b). Lower your right knee back down to the starting position (c). Do 10 reps, then move on to the left.
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3. Glute Bridge
Glute bridges are the perfect booty-shaping exercise because they target all three muscles that make up your butt: gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. They also help stretch your hamstrings and relieve tightness. The key with this exercise is to reach full extension, while keeping your shoulders grounded.
How to: Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor a few inches away from your butt (a). Arms at your sides, or raised out in front of you (palms together), press up into a bridge, lifting your hips and butt off the ground. Keep your shoulders grounded, hips square and body in a straight line from your neck to your knees (b). Hold the bridge for two breaths before you bring your hips and butt back down to the ground (c). Do 10 reps.
4. The Clam
Mobility masters love this move because it addresses hip rotation and glute strength in one fell swoop. Not only will you work out the kinks from sitting all day, in just a few reps, you’ll start to feel the burn in those glutes and thighs.
How to: Lay on your left side with knees bent, and press up on your left forearm, into a modified side plank (a). Square your hips and place your right hand at your waist. Your body should form a diagonal line from the top of your head to the ground (b). Engaging your abs, glutes and thighs, rotate your top leg open (knee bent), so your legs form a diamond (c). Then, close the clamshell returning to the starting position (d). Repeat for 10 reps per side.
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5. Lateral Lunge
Lateral lunges will not only strengthen your glutes but also the muscles around your hip and knee joints. To get the most out of this move, you’ll want to keep your back straight and your chest lifted as you sit back into the lunge. Lateral lunges can also help improve your hip mobility and stretch out tight hamstrings.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and hands at your sides (a). Take a big step with your right foot to the right, gently landing with the right knee bent, being careful not to let it extend past your toes (b). Sit your hips back and allow your left leg to straighten, feet planted flat on the ground (c). Reverse the lunge and return to the starting position (d). Do 10 reps per side.
6. Single Leg Touchdowns
A test of balance and strength, the single-leg touch exercise improves your range of motion and helps loosen your joints. As you stand on one leg, bring awareness to your upper body to help stabilize weight throughout your body.
How to: Stand with feet hip-distance apart with your weight on your left foot, arms at your sides (a). Take your right knee and bend it behind you, and wrap right hand around your right foot. Have a slight bend on your left knee if you need support for balance (b). Engaging your ab muscles and squeezing your glutes, hinge forward at the waist and tap the ground with your left hand (c). Lower your right leg down while lifting your torso back up to the starting position (d). Perform 10 reps on each side.
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7. Single-Leg Forward Reach
Last but not least, another booty balance challenge. The forward reach will help offset your weight as your leg extends behind you. The name of the game is stability and building a strong base.
How to: Stand with all your weight on your left foot (a). Keeping your left knee slightly bent, extend your right leg straight behind you with your toes hovering just above the floor (b). Then, reach your arms up and hinge forward at the waist as you lift your right leg up until it’s parallel to the floor (c). Pause and hold this position for two breaths (d). Lower your right leg to the floor as you stand upright and rest your right foot on the ground (e). Do 8-10 reps per side.
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Feature photos by Ryan Kelly / Daily Burn. Cover image via Shutterstock