Forget butt implants, we have the best moves for you to build a better booty!
Often hailed as the King of Exercises, the squat works your core, targets the muscles of your thighs and with proper technique will build beautiful, powerful glutes as well. While I consider this exercise a staple in almost any fitness program, proper form is vital to avoid injury and ensure maximum results from your effort.
Glute activation & warming up for squats:
The glutes are powerful muscles that lend your legs explosive strength, and when well developed also happen to give the appearance of a perky, round bottom. Take the time to activate your glutes prior to squatting and they’ll engage more fully during your squat, helping you achieve a lovely shaped backside. Without a targeted glute warm up the muscles of the thighs are more likely to take the bulk of the work , which can make the thighs look thicker over time as those muscles develop. This isn’t inherently bad, but it’s my experience that glute activation prior to squatting builds a more powerful, more aesthetically pleasing lower half…. especially for women.
To activate your glutes perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps of the bridge exercise, moving slowly with an emphasis on engaging the glute muscles as you press up and lower. When working on two legs becomes too easy, try the one-legged variation as seen in the photo below.
We’ll go over the bodyweight squat and one weighted variation.
Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind when performing the following squats:
- Start with a wide, straight-legged stance slightly wider than the shoulders. This ensures that your glutes stay involved in all the action. Your toes will point away from the midline at 45-degree angles.
- Stick your booty way out when you lower into your squat, and keep your chest way up.
- Come down low enough that your thighs go past parallel to the floor. Drop it low.
- Keep even weight in your feet, rooting down into your heels for stability if you feel shaky.
- Keep your knees pointing out over your toes.
- Do Not:
- Start with bent knees.
- Roll the shoulders forward or lean forward as you lower.
- Tuck your tailbone under or curve your spine over.
- Let your heels come up when you squat down.
- Let your knees buckle inward.
The bodyweight squat can be done on alone to learn good form and build muscular endurance, or as a warm up before weighted squats. If doing as their own exercise, do 3 sets of 12-15 reps, with a minute of rest in between sets. Do 1-2 sets of 8-10 reps prior to weighted squats.
-Arms are extended out in front of you. Think of “plugging” the arm bones back into their sockets to engage the shoulder girdle and keep the chest upright and over the feet.
-Inhale as you lower yourself into the squat and exhale as you press the ground away to straighten your legs, squeezing your glutes firmly all the way up.
Adding weight – Back squat
There are many fun and effective variations of the weighted squat, but to keep it simple we’ll go over the basic back-loaded variation using a barbell. The same body mechanics apply as the bodyweight squat – a wide stance to start, butt out and chest up to squat.
-The barbell is held over the shoulders and behind the neck, arms wider than the shoulders and elbows out and slightly back.
-Inhale to lower into the squat, and exhale to press up to stand.
-The barbell stays stacked right over the feet throughout the exercise. From the side, the barbell moves up and down smoothly in a vertical line. Use a mirror or ask someone to check your form.
How to get started:
When you first begin doing squats, start with bodyweight squats. Practice and familiarize yourself with good form before you add weight… bodyweight squats are an excellent exercise for building muscular endurance in preparation for heavier strength training. They can also be done as a warm up to more advanced leg exercises, or in between upper body exercise sets to keep the heart rate elevated throughout your workout. Squats can be done 1-3 times a week, depending upon your goals.