The squat is an efficient glute exercise, but it's not the only one.
When it's time to exercise the gluteus maximus in your butt, many look to the squat to tone or strengthen the body's largest muscle. According to a 2006 American Council on Exercise study, however, several other exercises joined the squat among the best activities to build your glutes. Warm up with five to 10 minutes of aerobic exercise before any workout, and train your gluteus maximus up to three times per week, but never on consecutive days.
Squat for Strength
Squats come in many variations, some of which work the glutes harder than others. For example, you can do standard squats with a barbell across your back, with your arms hanging down while you hold dumbbells or as a body-weight exercise. To perform the barbell version, set the bar as low as possible across the back of your shoulders to emphasize your gluteus maximus. Begin in an erect position with your palms facing forward on the bar. Bend your knees and hips simultaneously, lowering your torso until your thighs are about parallel with the floor. Go beyond parallel if possible, but make sure your knees point forward, in the same direction as your feet, at all times. Rise to the starting position to complete one repetition. Do eight to 12 reps. As with all weighted gluteus maximus exercises, your muscles should be fatigued after 12 reps if you're using enough weight.
Extend to Build Your Rear End
Begin the quadruped hip extension on the floor, on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are bent at right angles. Tighten your glutes and then hinge at your hip as you raise one leg back and upward until the sole of your foot faces the ceiling and your thigh is parallel with the floor. Maintain the 90-degree bend in your knee at all times. Return slowly to the starting position. Perform eight to 12 reps with each leg.
Step Up for a Stronger Butt
Perform step-ups by stepping onto a raised platform about 15 inches high, although a larger platform will add intensity. Place a barbell across the back of your shoulders, hold dumbbells in your hands or do the exercise as a body-weight activity. Step onto the platform with your right foot and then press down on the heel to lift your left foot off the floor. Bend your left knee to keep your left foot in the air. Extend your right leg completely and then step back down. Do eight to 12 reps with your right leg and then repeat the exercise with your left.
Lunges Build Great Glutes
As with squats and step-ups, you can do lunges with a barbell, with hand weights or without additional weight. Begin in an erect stance, stride forward with your right foot and then lunge to drop your torso, which remains upright throughout the exercise. Stop lunging when your right thigh is about parallel to the floor, but don't let your knee pass your foot. If you look back you should see that your left knee is just above the floor. Step back and rise to the starting position. Alternate legs and do a total of eight to 12 reps with each leg.
Bulk Up Your Backside with Hip Extensions
Use a glute extension machine to perform four-way hip extensions. Stand on the machine's platform, hold the support bar and place the back of your knee on top of the resistance pad in front of you. Press your leg down and back as far as possible and then return under control to the starting position. Do eight to 12 reps with each leg.