Two other major muscles work to keep your butt "high and tight": your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, which help stabilize your hips and support lower-body movement.
To activate and strengthen your glutes so that you look, feel and move better, the LIVESTRONG.com team partnered with Holly Perkins, CSCS, founder of Women's Strength Nation and creator of The GLUTES Project ACTIVATE, for this four-week butt lift challenge.
Your Better Butt Weekly Challenge Schedule
You'll do the same type of work on the same day for each of the four weeks of this challenge. Here's what that looks like:
- Monday: 5-Minute Glute Activation
- Tuesday: The 4 Best Butt Exercises
- Wednesday: Active Recovery
- Thursday: The 4 Best Butt Exercises
- Friday: Booty Workout Video
- Saturday: The 4 Best Butt Exercises
- Sunday: Rest Day!
Curious what all those session entail? Keep reading for more in-depth info on each of the day's activities.
5-Minute Glute Activation Routine
"If you sit for more than four hours per day, there is a strong likelihood that your glutes are weak," Perkins says. "This can lead to hip problems, knee issues like patellofemoral syndrome, back pain and even foot and toe problems."
That's where "glute activation" comes it. It may sound like some weird sci-fi robot jargon, but it's actually an integral part of your strength-training workouts, not to mention the key to pain-free daily movement.
"In order to strengthen your glutes, you first have to ensure that they are 'firing,'" Perkins says. "This means that there is a strong electrical current between your brain and your glute muscles. The first step in creating strong and functional glutes (and avoiding injuries) is to perform a series of activation exercises for two to four weeks." (That's why the challenge starts here!)
Perkins designed this three-move, 5-minute routine to warm up your glutes and get them firing properly. You'll do it each Monday and any other time your backside needs a little extra attention (like after an especially long day sitting at the office).
The 4 Best Butt Exercises
While squats and lunges may be the first moves that come to mind when you think about lower-body exercises, there are four that are even more specific to your glutes: glute bridges, glute kickbacks, Bulgarian split squats and step-ups.
"By focusing on hip extension exercises, you are able to really target the glutes," Perkins says. "I like to include some isolated hip extension exercises like kickbacks and bridges, as well as hip extension moves that also involve the hamstrings like step-ups and Bulgarian split squats. In all of the movements, the glutes are considered the primary mover responsible for generating force, without involving too many other muscle groups."
Three days a week, you'll do a few sets of these four booty-building moves. You can start with just your body weight (or some lighter weights), then up the resistance for weeks 2 and 3. During week 4, you'll keep the resistance the same but up your reps. Here's the outline:
2 sets of 15:
- Glute bridges
- Glute kickbacks
- Bulgarian split squats
2 sets of 12:
- Glute bridges with a resistance band
- Glute kickbacks with a resistance band
- Bulgarian split squats with dumbbells
- Step-ups with dumbbells
2 sets of 10:
- Glute bridges with a dumbbell
- Glute kickbacks with a tighter resistance band
- Bulgarian split squats with heavier dumbbells
- Step-ups with heavier dumbbells
2 sets of 15:
- Glute bridges with a dumbbell
- Glute kickbacks with the resistance band from week 3
- Bulgarian split squats with the dumbbells from week 3
- Step-ups with the dumbbells from week 3
Not hard enough for you? Up the weights or do 3 sets of each exercise.
If you don't have resistance bands and dumbbells, you can do the same exercises using only your body weight. Just make sure to change up the number of sets you do using this schedule:
- Week 1: 2 sets of 15
- Week 2: 3 sets of 12
- Week 3: 3 sets of 10
- Week 4: 2 sets of 15
Active Recovery for Your Glutes
All work and no recovery makes your glutes very tired. Not to mention, you'll hinder your booty-building efforts and put yourself at risk for overuse injuries. That's why there's one active recovery and one full rest day each week of this plan.
"I've always said, 'Work hard but recover harder,' because many people think they become fit during a workout when in truth, you become better, faster, stronger after the workout, during the recovery phase," Perkins says.
On your active recovery day, you can go for a walk (maybe up an easy hill to engage those glutes even more), stretch and foam roll (or give yourself a massage if you don't have a roller).
"Short bouts of low-intensity cardio (like walking or stationary cycling), stretching and foam rolling are all great ways to speed recovery," Perkins says. "I generally program 10 to 20 minutes of gentle cardio-based activity, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of gentle foam rolling and/or stretching."
Weekly Butt Workout Videos
On Friday of each week, you'll do one of the following workout videos.
Get a printer-friendly version of the calendar here!
How to Join the Challenge
Step 1: Print Your Challenge Calendar
Print out the calendar above (or save it to your phone) and use it each day to help you stay on track. Do the activity listed, then check off each day as you complete it. Before you know it, it'll become a habit!
Step 2: Join Our Facebook Group
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with your team members, join us in our LIVESTRONG.com Challenge Facebook group. We'll share tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions in a special Q&A session with Perkins.
Step 3: Get Your Glutes Firing!
On Monday, February 3, start the challenge with us. You'll do the 5-minute glute activation on your first day and post about it in our Challenge Facebook group. That can be a photo, video, funny meme or simple status update. You got this!
Want Even More Glute Goodness?
You can get access to The Glute Project ACTIVATE training program by Holly Perkins absolutely free! Click here to enroll and use the coupon code LIVESTRONG2020.