If you’re a millennial or older, you undoubtedly remember Sir Mix-a-Lot’s famous “Baby Got Back,” which was among the first of many songs to come promoting the idea that having a great, well-built posterior is preferable to a flat butt. However, unlike the focus of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song, having a well-developed, toned butt is not just for women. In fact, if you look at any impressive male physique, I’m guessing they have toned, muscular glutes. To help you out, I’ve rounded up six of the best butt-toning exercises for men to start doing today.
Whether your goal is overall size or toned striations on your booty muscles, lifting heavy weights is an absolute must. You need to develop your glute muscle fibers to achieve the toned-butt look that’s officially “in,” even for guys. The best way to do this is by using heavy resistance exercises that target the glutes and lower body.
The following is my list of the six best butt-toning exercises for men. Use a weight that causes failure between eight and 12 repetitions. Perform three to four sets of each exercise per week. Building muscle is all about workout volume, so I usually recommend somewhere between 100 and 130 “loaded reps” with a heavy weight per week for the glutes. You can split the workout up, or perform it on the same day. Be sure to take full rest days if you do decide on multiple workouts per week.
Keep reading to learn all about the six best butt-toning exercises for men, and next, don’t miss 7 Best Exercises for Men to Gain Muscle Without Equipment.
1. Barbell Squats
If you’re serious about building a properly shaped posterior and you are not otherwise injured, you need to be doing barbell back squats. This exercise allows you to load your body with the maximum amount of weight, thus providing the major stimulus to your glutes for maximal growth.
I prefer high-bar squats using a deep, full range of motion, but low-bar squats are also an option. Aim to get your thighs at least parallel to the ground in terms of depth. Do not allow your knees to cave in or your torso to lean excessively forward. You should keep the barbell directly above your mid-foot throughout the motion, with the barbell trajectory being entirely vertical. Keep in mind that “arcing” type motions of the barbell are not ideal and can pose some risk of injury.
2. Hex Bar Deadlifts
The hex bar is a hybrid movement between a squat and a deadlift that safely and effectively hits your glutes, among other muscles. You will need access to a hex bar. The movement involves squatting while gripping the neutral handles on the bar.
What’s great about hex bar exercises is that they are pretty hard to do incorrectly, making them a very safe way to train your lower body. As long as you maintain a neutral spine during each repetition, you are fairly safe from injury. Don’t be afraid to load up the bar and be aggressive with your sets. You need to hit your glutes hard to drive the toning muscle growth.
3. Banded Hip Abduction
When training for a great-looking butt, it’s vital to hit all the glute muscles. The gluteus maximus is the primary target in most exercises as it is the largest gluteal muscle. However, it’s important to train the gluteus medius as well, which tones out the upper side areas of your butt. The gluteus medius activates primarily through hip abduction, which is the movement of moving your leg to the side, such as during a band walk or clamshell exercise.
Banded hip abductions require a resistance band around your knees. Stand in place with your feet shoulder-width distance apart. Put weight on one foot and lift the other off the ground. Move the floating foot and leg laterally as if you are trying to open your legs. Keep tension on the band, and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on one side without touching your foot to the ground before switching. You can hold on to a post, rack, or another object for added balance and stability.
4. Barbell Hip Thrusts
Barbell hip thrusts load the glutes directly with a horizontal force as opposed to the vertical force that happens during squats and deadlifts. You will need a bench, a barbell, plates, and a foam pad to put on the barbell.
To set up, position the bench perpendicular to your body alignment, and shelf your shoulder blades on the bench. Roll the barbell onto your lap, and position the protective foam pad on the bar. Keep both feet shoulder-width distance apart and flat on the ground. Push through both feet to perform a bridge, raising your hips and the bar off the ground. Emphasize squeezing your glutes as hard as possible. When your hip crease is flat at the top of the movement, squeeze for one to two seconds, then slowly return to the starting position.
5. Romanian Deadlifts
Romanian deadlifts load the glutes and hamstrings primarily.
Begin with a barbell in front of you. Hinge at the waist with a slight bend in the knees, and grasp the bar with an overhand or alternating grip. Keep your spine neutral, and drive through both feet to raise the bar until you are upright and the bar is at roughly waist height. As you lower, keep your knees from bending beyond 30 degrees, and lower the bar until it is just below your knees. When you feel your glutes and hamstrings stretch against the weight, drive through both feet into the next repetition. Repeat all repetitions before setting the bar on the ground.
6. Bulgarian Split Squats
Split squats are an amazing lower-body exercise that heavily targets the glutes. You will need a bench or other elevated step roughly 18 inches off the ground, depending on your height.
Begin in a lunge position with your rear foot elevated on the box or workout bench. Lower your body by bending your front and back knee while lowering your back knee toward the floor. As your knee approaches the ground, push through your front foot to return to the top. You can hold a weight in your hand for this, such as a dumbbell or kettlebell. I recommend holding a weight in each hand or holding a single weight with your “outside hand” on the same side as your forward leg. This shifts more load on the glutes compared to holding a single weight with the inside hand.