Fitness / Strength Training

5 Thigh Exercises That Build a Better Bottom

Build your buns of steel.

If you would like to improve your bottom, you need to focus on some major glute attention. While squats are often given the gold seal of approval for being butt-busters, the area below our booties needs to be worked to make a difference. “The muscles in the back of our thighs and our buttock muscles work together to extend our hip, or bring it backwards,” explains Physical Therapist Lauren Lobert, DPT, OMPT, CSCS. “Our buttock muscles work to move our thighs sideways, away from our body and also rotate our thighs outwards.”

In other words, to really perfect your booty game, you should include specific thigh exercises within your routine. From thrusters and lunges, to moves that you’ve probably never heard of before, consider this your guide to a more sculpted rear end.

Single Leg Exercises

Though they challenge your balance and coordination, as well as your muscles, Certified Personal Trainer Cary Raffle says that single-leg exercises can’t be missed. If you opt to do these with a machine, you will work your thigh muscles while simultaneously working your glutes for stability. You don’t have to go heavy or go home with these either. Raffle recommends various weights based on the type of movement you’re doing. “Reduce the weight by 50 to 60 percent for single leg presses and single leg hamstring curls, and squeeze your glutes while doing the exercises,” he continues. “The single leg press works all of the major muscles of the thighs. As you push forward make sure that the knee, hip, and leg are in a straight line, and [that you can] feel your glutes working.”

Lateral Lunges

In the world of booty-enriching movements, Raffle says that lateral lunges are among the most effective for toning and strengthening your inner thigh and firing your glutes. As a bonus, you don’t need anything except a tiny bit of space to implement these into your sweat schedule. “From a standing position, move one leg out just beyond shoulder width while on the opposite side the foot remains planted and the leg and knee remain straight,” he instructs. “Sit your body weight onto the extended leg, push up, and return to starting position—then repeat.” You can alternate sides as you go, or focus on one side for a set of reps and then repeat on the other.

Deadlifts

The best news about deadlifts is variety, since Lobert explains that they take on many forms. However, for your booty goals, she recommends stiff leg and single-leg deadlifts. You can do these with or without weight. “You want to start standing upright with a slight knee bend, feet about hip width apart. Your buttocks will go back and your back will stay flat as you slide the weight down your leg, as close to your shins as possible,” she instructs. “Now, go down slowly. Stop when you feel a strong pull or stretch in the back of your thigh, and then stand back up. As you come up, think about squeezing your glutes and keeping your ribs down, tilting your pelvis backwards and bringing your ribs and your hip bones together. This will ensure [that] you are using your glutes and not your low back at the top of the movement.”

Hip Thrust

According to Lobert, a hip thrust is the best exercise you can do with your glutes. It even ranks higher than squats and lunges. She notes that it was invented by the so-called ‘glute guy’ Bret Contreras who conducted research on its effectiveness. What’s pretty amazing about this thigh movement is, well, how easy it is! (Likely, you can even do it right now, while reading this post.)

Lobert explains, to start, position your back, just below your shoulder blades on a flat surface. Your knees should be bent so that your feet are flat on the floor. From there, you bridge up, lifting your buttocks and squeezing your glutes together at the top. “It is important to look forward the entire time and make sure [that] you think about squeezing your glutes at the top,” she shares. “You can adjust your foot placement so [that] you feel it primarily in your glutes and not in your quadriceps or hamstrings.” If you want to make it harder, Lobert says to add a resistance band around your knees.

Clam Shells

As the name suggests, mimicking the movement of your favorite seafood could result in a stronger bottom. ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach Olga Hays says that this move will add endurance and tightness to your hips and thighs, while also stabilizing your pelvic muscles and glutes. How do you do it? It’s simple! Start by laying on the your left side with your hips and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Your right and left leg should be stacked, with your heels together. Now, while keeping your feet in contact with one another, raise your right knee as high as you can—as long as your pelvis stays put. Pause—and then return. You should repeat this ten times, and then flip over to the other side.

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