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5 ultimate exercises to boost your booty and grow your glutes, according to a JLo's 'Hustlers' trainer

Kelly Burch,Joey Thurman   

5 ultimate exercises to boost your booty and grow your glutes, according to a JLo's 'Hustlers' trainer
  • Step-ups are a great butt workout that you can do anywhere that has an elevated surface.
  • You can add weights on your hips to make bridge exercises even more challenging.

Everyone wants their booty to look great for a night on the town, but having a strong derrière is about more than being sexy.

"Your glutes do more than just look great in your favorite pair of jeans or leggings. They also help provide support and stabilization for your entire body," says Johanna Sapakie, a personal trainer with FlexIt Pro who has worked with bootylicious stars including Jennifer Lopez for her role in "Hustlers."

Your rear is composed of three muscles: the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body. Together those muscles help stabilize your entire body, facilitating everyday movements like walking, twisting and bending, says Dr. Seema Sarin, medical director for lifestyle medicine at EHE Health.

"The bottom line — pun intended — is that if our bottom muscles are weak and deconditioned, it can lead to poor posture, back pain, and even difficulty walking," Sarin says.

These five simple exercises can keep your butt muscles feeling strong and looking great. Best of all, they can be done anywhere, without specialized equipment.

1. Bridge

A bridge is a simple but effective exercise that hones in on the glutes. As a bonus, this exercise also engages your core and hamstrings, the muscles along the back of your legs.

Here's how to do a bridge, according to Sapakie:

1. Lay on your back on the ground, or on a yoga mat.

2. Bend your knees and point them toward the ceiling.

3. Place your feet flat on the floor, hips width apart.

4. Keep your arms at your side or folded over your chest. This is your starting position.

5. Drive your heels into the floor, lifting your butt as high into the air as you can. Exhale as you rise. Keep your core tight and your back straight, not arched.

6. Squeeze your glutes at the top, then gently lower yourself to the floor.

7. Repeat.

8. Do three sets of 12-15 reps.

If you master bridges and they begin to feel easy, make them more challenging by adding weight onto your hips, or bridging with one leg off the ground and extended straight.

2. Side leg-lifts

Although they might bring 80's workout videos to mind, side legs lifts are great for strengthening the glutes, Sapakie says.

Here's how to get started:

1. Lay on your side on the ground or on a yoga mat.

2. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to keep your body aligned. The position should look and feel similar to a side plank, although your body weight is resting on the floor.

3. If you need help with balance, bend your bottom leg at a 90-degree angle.

4. Straighten your top leg. The kneecap should be pointing straight ahead, not toward the ceiling.

5. Lift the straightened leg up to hip height. Hold it there for three seconds.

6. Lower it down, then immediately lift again.

7. Repeat 10-12 times. Then, switch to the other leg.

8. Complete three sets on each leg.

If those feel easy, challenge yourself to complete a small circle when your leg is at hip height, Sapakie says.

3. Step-ups

Step ups engage the legs and glutes. They're a great exercise because anyone can do them and they mimic everyday movements, like walking up stairs, Sarin says.

Here's how to do a step up:

1. Find a stable, elevated surface to step up onto, like stairs, a step stool, or an exercise block.

2. For an added challenge, add 5-10 pound weights in each hand. If you don't have any around, use household items like water bottles.

3. Stand in front of the elevated surface with both feet on the ground, toes about six inches back from the surface.

4. Lift your right foot onto the elevated surface. Your entire foot should be firmly on the surface, while your left foot is flat on the ground.

5. Push through the right heel, driving your whole body up and onto the surface. Make sure your left foot is entirely on the elevated surface.

6. Stand straight and stable on the elevated surface for just a second.

7. Step down with your right foot. Then, step down with your left.

8. Repeat the exercise, this time beginning with your left foot.

9. Complete three sets of 12-15 reps on each leg.

4. Wall squats with a yoga ball

Wall squats engage your glutes and other lower body muscles. This exercise incorporates a yoga ball to help facilitate a greater range of motion, helping you really work the glutes.

Here's how to do them, according to Sapakie:

1. Find a large yoga ball.

2. Stand facing away from the wall.

3. Trap the ball between your mid back and the wall.

4. Walk your feet out until they are at a slight diagonal to the wall and you can lean back into the ball slightly.

5. Put your arms straight out in front of you, like a zombie.

6. Bend your knees and squat down until your glutes are under the ball and no longer touching it.

7. Keep your abs tight and your spine straight up and down.

8. Squat down. Firmly plant your feet and slightly push back into the ball as you lower. Be sure that your knees don't drop in toward each other, but stay pressed slightly outward.

9. Raise back up to standing and squeeze your glutes tight at the top.

10. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

For an extra challenge, add 10 small pulses down at the very bottom of your last rep, before you come back up to standing.

5. Hiking

Hiking or even walking in a hilly area allows you to engage your glutes while also incorporating some cardio. Plus, you get the benefits of being outside.

"It's good for your glutes and your soul," Sapakie says.

Walking or hiking are simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind, Sapakie says:

  • Keep your eyes up and your chest lifted. This keeps your spine in alignment. Make sure you're not hunching forward.
  • Wear supportive shoes.
  • Think about pushing through the back of your foot with each step. This will help engage your glutes, especially after you start to tire.

For an added challenge, pause every five minutes and do 5-10 squats.

Best hiking boots

Our guides to the best hiking boots for men and women can help you find the supportive footwear you need to get the best glute workout while hiking.

Insider's takeaway

Starting any new exercise routine can be intimidating. Remember that you might need to begin slowly. Even incorporating one or two reps a few times a day can strengthen your glutes, especially if you focus on form.

"Doing an exercise with great form a few times will give you far more benefit than doing that same exercise poorly with a huge rep load," Sapakie says.

Unfortunately, working your glutes is not guaranteed to give you a JLo bod, which has more to do with genetics than anything. Even if you don't see changes to your physique, don't get discouraged.

"Try to remember that all human bodies are built beautifully unique and are intended to look different from each other," Sapakie says.

The most important thing to remember is that you're taking care of your overall health by working your glutes.

"Movement is medicine. That means any movement," Sarin says. "So start small and build on your prior successes. Your body and your behind will thank you."


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