70% of cellulite is caused by lifestyle; 30% is genetic. So, what does that mean? Well, it’s going to take a balance of good nutrition in addition to exercise. Keep in mind that a great butt workout is only part of the picture. Eating right is important, too because no one will see those fabulous glute muscles if they’re hidden underneath excess pounds. A diet consisting of whole, less-processed foods, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates — which is also low in sugar and saturated fat — can help build lean muscle.
For cardio, walking hills is a great butt workout. At the gym or home, use a 5% to 7% incline grade on your treadmill. Climbing stairs is another great choice for working the glutes. Find a stadium, or use a stair machine, elliptical, or arc trainer to help define the butt.
After working up a sweat, try these six butt-busting strength exercises (aiming for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of each):
1. Squats. One of the best exercises you can do for your butt, hips, and thighs is the squat. Stand with feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your hips, making sure not to let your knees go out past your toes. Variations are endless and for an advanced version, progress to squat jumps (each time you come out of the squat, leap off the ground).
2. Lunges. Beginning with your feet parallel and hip-distance apart, take a giant step forward or backward. Slowly lower your body, bending both knees. Bend your knees no farther than 90 degrees, keeping your front knee aligned over your front ankle. Step together and repeat. Alternate legs or do all sets on one leg and then switch for a greater challenge. Beginners should stay in the lunge and just lower and lift by bending the knees.
3. Bridges. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Slowly peel your spine off the floor from the bottom, one vertebra at a time, tightening the glutes and hamstrings (backs of the thighs) until you’ve created a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees. Return to the floor slowly, one vertebra at a time.
Variation: one-legged bridge: Hold the knees tightly together and extend one leg at knee level while in the bridge position. Do all repetitions on one side, then switch. To take it to the next level, try the bridge on a stability ball. With the head and tops of shoulders balanced on the ball, lift the hips into a tabletop position, level with the shoulders, then lower slightly and repeat.
Advancing from there, lift into the bridge position on the ball, then take two baby steps to your left, changing the line of gravity so you’re off-center, then drop and lift the hips. Do all the repetitions on one side, then switch.
4. Step-ups. Using a weights bench (a step would work, too), step one foot on top, then push through the top leg and glute to lift the bottom leg up and tap the bench. Lower and repeat using the same leg. Add hand weights or a knee lift with the tapping leg for a greater challenge.
5. Leg/hip extensions. Reaching a leg behind your body is a great way to work the glutes. In Pilates, it’s done while lying on your side, but you can also do it while lying over a stability ball or standing. Using a slow, controlled motion, extend the leg behind the body while squeezing the glutes and keeping the torso stable. Do three sets of 15 repetitions, then switch legs.
6. Single-Leg Glute Bridge. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor near your butt and hip-width apart. Keeping your knees in line, extend one leg. On your exhale, squeeze your glutes and push your hips up toward the ceiling as high as you can go. Pause, then lower until your butt hovers right above the floor, and repeat without touching the ground.
For a challenge: While standing, extend one leg back and hinge from the hip. At the same time, lower the torso to parallel with the floor. Keep the abs tight and return to standing, lowering the back leg.
Whatever butt workout you choose, the experts suggest following a few rules for best results:
1. Set goals
2. Surround yourself with positive people
3. Stay consistent
4. Use good form
5. Fit more movement into your daily life
6. Stretch the opposing muscles