5 Best Exercises for a Perkier Butt After 30
Your gluteus maximus (aka, your butt) is the biggest muscle in your body. Needless to say, it's usually pretty strong, says Michelle Ditto, training development manager for Pure Barre. If you want to sculpt a perky butt that fills out your jeans in all the right places, you'll need to focus on three key movement patterns and exercises that fall under the following umbrellas: lunges, squats, and hinges. Being mindful of muscle engagement, using correct form, and emphasizing mind-body connection while doing these movements is also essential. "In building strength, form is truly king," stresses Ditto. Ahead, we've identified five of the best exercises for a perkier butt after 30, so you can tone, strengthen, and improve the aesthetic of your backside.
As you age, it's common to notice your skin and particular body parts start to sag. Especially if you lead a more sedentary life or work a desk job with minimal breaks to get up and active, strengthening your glutes (and your entire body, for that matter) is especially important. Ditto shares that the most beneficial form of exercise when you're trying to tone and perk up your glutes is strength training. "To get to a point where a more typical or traditional movement pattern feels challenging and you can tone/firm up your glutes, you may need to include novel equipment, a new variation in pattern, more time under tension, or a combination of the above to get your muscles to respond in a novel way," Ditto adds. "The value of adding intensity can help you surpass plateaus and increase strength and mobility in ways that impact your life outside of your workouts!"
Keep in mind that adding intensity to your workout can look different for everyone; there's no "one size fits all" approach, Ditto explains. Certain exercises that work the glutes may be challenging for you and easier for someone else (or vice versa). "This comes down to HOW you typically train, and if you are integrating multi-joint and multi-planar movements into your fitness routine…. Self-assessment is key when looking to add intensity, so consider how you have been training your glutes as you gauge if you need to add an additional challenge," says Ditto.
Now, if you're ready to give your glutes an impressive lift, keep reading for Ditto's top-recommended exercises for a perkier butt after 30. And when you're finished, be sure to check out the 5 Strength Exercises for Women To Get Firm & Lean in Their 40s.
"Split squats challenge your balance, strength, and mobility in your hips while targeting your glutes in a big way," Ditto explains. "Any split stance is also a phenomenal check for imbalances on each side of the body, so you can readily see if you have strength imbalances per side of the body."
For split squats, you'll need a ledge or bench, along with one medium-to-heavy weight. To set up, sit down on the bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Bring your left foot forward, and position the top of your right foot on the bench. Then, bend your knees in order to descend into a split squat. Push through your front foot in order to return to standing. Squeeze your glutes. That counts as one rep. Perform three sets of eight to 12 reps on each side.
According to Ditto, "Weighted step-ups, similar to split-stance exercises, require enhanced balance and coordination, but can also add challenge with the height of the box you are stepping onto. If you are taller, note you may want a taller box. Aim for a box height that requires you to bend your knee up to nearly 90º, which will ask for more gluteal recruitment and power as you push off from the floor."
You'll need a workout bench, box, or sturdy stool in order to perform this exercise. You'll also need to have two medium-sized weights, or you can opt for one weight as needed. To set up, stand at the back of the box holding a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended by your sides. Plant your right foot on the box, and push through that foot in order to stand up tall. Your left leg should trail in the back of the box. Then, gradually step back down onto your left foot. Perform three to five sets of 10 reps per side.
The single-leg deadlift is an excellent choice to boost your strength and stability, and it calls for a lot of control from your obliques to ensure your hips stay square during the exercise. "The hip hinge movement specifically dynamically asks the glute muscles to engage through the full range of motion, and performing this unilateral variation requires enhanced coordination and balance," Ditto adds.
You'll need a barbell or set of dumbbells in hand for this exercise. To set up, plant your feet hip-width distance apart. Bring your left leg back just a bit. Keep your right knee soft, and refrain from bending it as you hinge. Gradually hinge forward while you raise your left leg, "focusing more on the hinge at the hip versus the height of your leg," Ditto instructs. "Keep your hips square, and think of reaching the weight and your left hip equally toward the floor. Squeeze your glutes, and press through your right foot to stand back up, challenging yourself to keep your left foot from stepping down and bearing weight," she adds. Complete three sets of eight to 10 reps.
Tabletop Leg Abduction (Fire Hydrant Variation)
Performing a leg abduction in a tabletop position is "a double whammy of value," as Ditto describes it, because it activates your gluteus medius and furthers the activation of your obliques. "Remember that the straighter your leg, the heavier it feels in your glutes—think of your leg as a dumbbell for your backside! Focus on proper alignment through the spine as well; your abs should stay strong and braced throughout the movement," she says.
You don't need any equipment for this exercise, but feel free to incorporate a resistance band on your thighs or ankle weights. To set up, assume a tabletop position on all fours. Straighten your right leg to the side, keeping it lined up with your hips. Your toes should point toward the ground. Gradually raise your leg, pause for a moment when you reach the top, and slowly "tap your toes" down. Perform three sets of 15 reps for each side. To make things more challenging, feel free to incorporate a 30-second isometric hold with tiny pulses to wrap up each set.
Banded Glute Bridges
Last but not least on Ditto's list of the best exercises for a perkier butt after 30 is the banded glute bridge. Make sure you have a resistance band on hand! This exercise will directly fire up your glutes—especially with the added resistance from the band.
To set up, lie down on your back on a workout mat, and bend your knees. The loop resistance band should be just above your knees. Keep your heels aligned below your knees and your arms extended at your sides on the ground. Then, squeeze your buttocks in order to press your hips up and off the floor. At the same time, press outward into the resistance band. Hold the position at the top of the bridge, then gradually lower back down. To make things more challenging, lift one of your legs straight up, and complete a single-leg glute bridge.