Can Pilates Help You Build a Stronger Butt?

Pilates can do a lot for your body, including building a strong core and improving your posture. The workout can even help develop your rear, if that's a personal goal, by activating the different glute muscles and helping build your mobility and flexibility.

You can use Pilates exercises, like the one-legged pelvic tilt, to activate and sculpt your glutes. (Image: fizkes/iStock/Getty Images)

Anatomy of Your Glutes

Three primary muscles make up your butt: the gluteus maximum, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). While most people tend to emphasize the glute max in training, as it's the largest and most visible portion, it's important to strengthen all three parts of your glute.

Your gluteus maximus is responsible for extending and rotating your hip, helping you move in and out of exercises like squats, according to the ACE. The medius and minimus have similar roles, depending on your positioning. They help move the leg away from your body's midline and stabilize the pelvis.

How to Grow Your Glutes

Just like when you're building your biceps or delts, you're going to need resistance to make your glutes grow, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

While you'll want to incorporate a weekly strength-training routine in order to build a bigger backside, you can also use other workouts, like Pilates, to vary the way you target the muscle. Mat Pilates, which uses just your body weight, involves plenty of exercises that activate your glute muscles.

Reformer Pilates can also help you develop your butt, as you can adjust the springs and cables to provide different levels of resistance. Whether this resistance is enough to really make your bum grow depends on your starting point. If you've already been heavy squatting and lunging out on the gym floor, a Reformer session may help improve your mechanics so you can nail those exercises and get better results.

Best Pilates Exercises for Your Butt

Pilates offers a number of exercises that activate all three muscles of your glutes. If stronger butt muscles are your goal, use them in addition to moves such as barbell back squats, weighted lunges, single-leg squats and weighted step-ups.

Three major behind-builders from Pilates include:

1. Flutter Kicks

  1. Lie on your abdomen on a mat, and turn your head to rest one cheek on the floor.
  2. Let your arms lie by your sides and extend your legs behind you.
  3. Squeeze the legs toward each other and lift them up off the mat.
  4. Keep your hips pressed toward the floor as you flutter straight legs for 30 to 60 seconds.

2. One-Legged Pelvic Tilt

  1. Lie on your back on a mat, bend your knees and plant your feet about hip-distance apart.
  2. Lift your hips and feel a squeeze through your booty.
  3. Raise your right leg straight up to the ceiling, keeping your hips lifted.
  4. Slowly lower your hips almost to the floor and then lift back up to the maximum height.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then switch sides with the left leg lifted.

3. Side Leg Kicks

  1. Lie on your right side with your hips and shoulders stacked.
  2. Inhale and raise your left leg as high as you can.
  3. Exhale and lower back down.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then switch sides.
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