6 Exercises to Lift Your Butt and Tone Your Glutes

by Jessica Nelson, RDN, CPT · Updated May 13, 2022
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Finding a butt workout that will sculpt and lift your butt for that perfect peach emoji shape can be tough—there are so many options to choose from! We tapped Jessica Nelson, RDN, CPT, to explain exactly which muscles lift the buttocks and her personal trainer-approved exercises to lift your butt.

Looking for the best butt-lifting exercises for a stronger, more toned booty? Look no further. The six moves below are all you need. Work them into your regular routine or combine them for the ultimate butt-lifting workout.

Read on for your complete guide to achieving a toned butt. We’ll cover gluteal anatomy, booty-sculpting insights, and the top exercises to lift your butt.

Which Muscles Lift the Buttocks?

The gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and gluteus minimus are the three main muscles that lift the buttocks and make up the gluteal (butt!) anatomy.

1. Gluteus Medius

The gluteus medius is located on the upper part of the buttocks. This muscle helps to rotate the hips out and stabilize movement while walking and standing.

2. Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest and thickest of the three gluteal muscles and primarily makes up the shape of the buttocks. This large muscle is also important for keeping the upper body erect and supporting hip movements, including climbing.

3. Gluteus Minimus

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three gluteal muscles. This muscle works with the medius to help with hip and pelvis motion.

These three muscles work together to help with everyday functional movements that involve rotating, lifting, and stabilizing the lower body. And, of course, the muscles lift the buttocks and help create the shape of your butt.

Man doing lunges with weights as part of his butt lifting workout

How to Lift Your Butt

Without a doubt, you need to strengthen and build your gluteal muscles up to lift that butt and get a sculpted shape.

Here are some quick tips to know before starting your booty-lifting workout:

  • To build your glute muscles, use heavy weights to put a greater load on the muscles.
  • Focus primarily on dynamic strength movements, such as squat jumps. Dynamic movements are important as they create greater muscle tension than when doing static types of movements. That’s because both the muscle and joint undergo a full range of motion.
  • Vary your exercises to target the three main butt muscles: gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and gluteus minimus.
  •  Perform butt exercises with a range of rep counts. Some exercises should use low reps and more resistance to build strength, while others should use high reps to build endurance.

6 Exercises to Lift Your Butt

Perform these glute-targeting exercises to strengthen, tone, and lift your butt. It’s a great workout on its own, or you can add it to your next lower body or total body strength-training day.

For this butt-lifting workout, you’ll need a heavy pair of dumbbells. (I used 12-pound dumbbells below.) Complete 10 to 15 reps for each exercise (and each side of your body) three or four times.

Dumbbell Sumo Squat Demonstration

1. Dumbbell Sumo Squat

  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width, toes pointed out, and holding dumbbells in front of your chest.
  2. Bend your knees while lowering hips. Your thighs should be parallel with the floor, and keep your weight in the back of your heels.
  3. Hold for two seconds, then rise back up to starting position, squeezing the glutes at the top.
Dumbbell Deadlift Demonstration

2. Dumbbell Deadlift

Stand with your knees slightly bent. Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs, with palms facing y

  1. Stand with your knees slightly bent. Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs, with palms facing your body.
  2. Keep your arms straight while slowly hinging at the waist, pressing your hips back to lower dumbbells toward your toes. Go as far as you can without rounding your back and shoulders. 
  3. Squeeze your glutes as you slowly return to standing position.
Curtsy Lunge and Dumbbell Leg Lift Gif

3. Curtsy Lunge with Dumbbell Leg Lift

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and hold one dumbbell at the right side of the body.
  2. Keep your chest forward and shoulders back, then step back with your right foot, crossing behind your front left leg. 
  3. Sit back into a lunge, keeping your weight in the back of the front heel. 
  4. Pause for two seconds, then drive up to the starting position and laterally raise your right leg out to the side with the dumbbell resting against it. Avoid leaning leftward as you lift your leg laterally.
Weighted Static Lunge Demonstration

4. Weighted Static Forward lunge with pulse

  1. Start with your left foot forward and knee slightly bent. 
  2. Extend your right leg back, with your toes down and heel up. 
  3. Hold both dumbbells on your shoulders. Bend your knees, lowering your body to floor until knees are at a 90-degree angle. 
  4. Come up halfway, then go back down for 1 pulse. 
  5. Do two or three pulses total, then rise up to starting position for a full rep. Complete total reps on one side of body, then switch.
Forearm Glute Rainbow Kick

5. Forearm Glute Rainbow Kicks

  1. Start on all fours. Drop down to your forearms, with knees shoulder-width apart and dumbbells on the floor as visual markers (see above). 
  2. Straighten right leg and position it 45 degrees to the right (outside of the dumbbell). Keep your core engaged with your back straight, neck neutral. 
  3. Lift your right leg and create a rainbow arc (kick) behind you by slowly kicking your right leg over to the left side of your body (outside of other dumbbell) until toe just touches ground. 
  4. From there, bring it back to right side for one complete rep. 
  5. Keep your whole body still except your leg doing while a rainbow kick, and squeeze your glutes through the entire movement. Complete total reps, then switch legs.
Weighted Frog Pump Demonstration

6. Weighted Frog Pump

  1. Starting in a glute bridge position, place one dumbbell on your lower abdominal area. 
  2. With knees bent, push them outward into a butterfly position. Push your heels together and place two feet from butt. 
  3. Holding the dumbbell, tighten your core and squeeze your glutes as you drive your hips up, creating a straight line from hips to knees. 
  4. Pause for two seconds, then slowly return to starting position. Your knees should remain butterflied out the entire time.

Final Thoughts

Remember: Patience and consistency are key when it comes to strengthening and lifting your butt. Muscle growth takes time.

Also, know that muscle development doesn’t happen through working out alone. On top of performing these exercises to lift your butt, you also need adequate rest, as well as food to fuel your muscles.


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