I often get asked about my favorite leg exercises to build a tight and toned booty. Here are five of my favorite glute-building exercises!
1. Hip thrusts incorporating a band over knees
Place a short resistance band just above your knees, Sit on the ground with your back against a bench, feet planted firmly in front of you and a padded barbell in your lap. Keep your knees stable, raise the barbell by pushing up your hips upward so that they are inline with your glutes. Your midsection should be in a parallel line at the peak of contraction. Slowly lower the weight. Be sure that you are exploding up and using a slow, controlled movement on the way down. Be sure that your knees are facing forward at all times and that they do not bend in or out. When using a resistance band for this exercise, you will almost feel like you are pushing your hips out in order to control the movement. The band will add extra intensity to this exercise, but can also be done without.
2. Donkey kicks using dumbbell
Start on all fours, and place a weight in the crease of your right knee. Keeping your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle, lift your right leg up until you feel your right glute engage. Flex your foot, and slowly pulse the foot toward the ceiling by squeezing your glute. Do not move the torso at all— keep still!
3. Romanian deadlift incorporating a resistance band around knees
Place a small resistance band just about your knees. Bend at your waist with back straight and a soft knee (very slightly bent). Hold bar with hands a little more than shoulder-width apart using an alternate grip. Keep your head forward and the bar as close to the body as possible. Slowly lower the bar to the floor, but do not let it touch. Pushing through the heels (you should be able to wiggle your toes), pull the bar back until you have reached the starting position.
4. Stability ball leg curl
Lie on your back on the floor and rest your heels on a stability ball. Brace your abs, keeping your core in a plank position, and drive your heels into the ball to raise your hips off the floor. Bend your knees and roll the ball toward you. Keep your hips elevated the entire set. Do not drop your bum! This exercise can be tricky at first; it requires quite a bit of balance.
5. Single-leg back extension machine with emphasis on glute/hamstring
Lie facedown on a hyperextension bench, tucking one ankle securely under the footpad. Start with your body in a straight line and place your arms in a crossed position. This will minimize additional unwanted swinging. You can also hold a small dumbbell behind neck for extra intensity. Slowly bend forward at the waist as far as you can while keeping your back as flat as possible. Do not round or arch your back. Slowly raise your torso until your legs and upper body are in a straight line again. Be sure that you are squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to lift the upper body.