News flash: Your glutes exist for better reasons than just looking good in those apple-bottom jeans. The major muscle group (made up of your gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus) is a key player in explosive movements like jumping and sprinting. A strong butt can also help relieve low-back pain and make everyday movements—like standing and climbing stairs—that much easier.
To get the most out of those glutes, strengthen them with these bodyweight exercises, courtesy of Brynn Putnam, certified trainer and founder of Refine Method. You won't need any equipment, though a few require a step or sturdy chair, and for some, you can up the intensity by holding medium-size kettlebells or dumbbells in each hand.
At the end, you'll find a bodyweight workout with five simple moves to strengthen your butt in less than 20 minutes.
1. Hip Drive
Sit on your knees, legs together, so your butt is on your heels. Engage your glutes to lift your butt and rise to a kneeling position. Slowly lower, keeping glutes engaged.
2. Bottoms-Up Lunge
Perform a hip drive. Bring left foot forward so you're kneeling on right knee. Push into your left heel and engage glutes to stand, bringing right knee up. As you stand, try not to push off of the ground; instead, engage hamstrings and glutes to lift. Return to starting position.
3. Hip Thrust
Lie faceup with knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place hands on the ground directly under your shoulders, fingers facing away from your body. Squeeze your glutes and lift hips into a table-top position. Hold for a count of 5. Slowly lower hips to the ground. (When you lift hips, focus on keeping your neck long and not scrunching your shoulders.)
4. Glute Bridge
Lie faceup with knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Raise hips straight up off the ground, engaging glutes and bracing your core. Lower down slowly, creating your own resistance.
5. Side Skaters
Stand with feet together and crouch down by pushing hips back, keeping back flat and abs engaged. Jump as far as you can to the right, landing lightly on the ball of your right foot. Now jump as far as you can to the left, engaging glutes to push off, and land lightly on left foot. Repeat.
Make it easier: Take big steps side to side.
6. Marching Hip Lift
Lie faceup with knees bent, feet on the ground, and abs engaged. Lift your hips as you squeeze your glutes (like the glute bridge). Now raise right foot a few inches off the ground and straighten leg. Try not to let your hips twist. Lower right foot to the ground as you pick up left foot. Repeat "march" on other side, focusing on squeezing glutes throughout.
7. Chair Squat Jump
You'll need a chair or bench for this move. Sit on a chair with back straight and feet hip-width apart. Using your glutes, jump straight up, making sure both feet come off the ground. Land lightly, and slowly squat to sit on the chair.
8. Diagonal Squat
Stand with feet wider than hip width, arms at your side. Step right foot back on a diagonal, send your hips back, and bend your right knee (left leg is straight with foot flexed). Keep your chest up and abs engaged. Return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.
9. Hip Thrust Single-Arm Reach
Sit on your butt, knees bent, feet hip-width distance apart. Place hands on the ground directly under shoulders, fingers facing away from your body. Squeeze glutes to lift hips into a tabletop position and hold. Reach your right arm on a high diagonal across your body, keeping hips straight (no twisting). Lower hips and hand to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
Stand in front of a bench, chair, or step. Place left foot on the bench and step up, engaging your left glute to lift. (Do not push off of your right foot.) Straighten left leg to stand tall, then slowly lower, sending hips back and bending left knee. Repeat on the other side.
Make it harder: The higher your step or bench, the more challenging the moves will be.
11. Side Lunge Shift
Step your right foot to the side, send your hips back, and bend your right knee to lower into a side lunge. Staying low, shift to the other side, so your left knee is bent, and right leg is straight. Push off of your left heel to stand. Repeat, starting with the left foot stepping sideways.
Make it easier: Do not step. Keep your feet wide and shift side to side, sending your hips back to engage glutes.
12. Walking Lunge
Step forward with right foot and, using glutes, hamstrings, and core, lower into a lunge. Lift left foot and step forward, immediately dropping into a lunge on the other side. Continue to “walk” forward.
13. Single-Leg Hip Lift
Lie faceup with knees bent, arms comfortably at your side, and feet shoulder-width apart. Use both arms to hug left knee to your chest. Push up, engaging right glute and core, to lift hips off the ground. Hold for a count of 5. Lower down and switch (so right knee is hugged), and lift again, this time engaging the left glute.
Make it easier: Don't hold at the top of the hip thrust.
14. Hip Drive Step-Up
You'll need a step for this move. Perform a hip drive. Step left foot forward. Use glutes and hamstrings to stand. Place right foot on step. Engage your glutes and hamstrings to step up. Step back down with the same foot, return to a kneeling position, then to a seated position. Repeat on the other side.
15. Side Step-Up
Stand with your right side to a secure chair or bench, and place right foot on the chair. Engaging your right glute, lift off the ground, straightening right leg. As with the step-up, do not push off your left foot (the one on the ground). Focus on engaging only the right glute to lift. Lower by sending hips back and bending the right leg.
16. Single-Leg Sit to Stand
You'll need a chair or bench for this move. Sit on the edge of the chair with your back straight, left leg straight out in front of you, and right leg bent with foot on the floor. Using only your right glute and right leg, push up and rise to a standing position. You can leave your flexed left foot lightly touching the ground for balance, but don't put any weight on it. Push hips back to slowly sit down. Repeat on other side.
Make it harder: Keep your left foot lifted a few inches off the ground the entire time.
17. Crossover Lunge
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and lift your left foot, stepping backward and to the right to cross behind right foot. From this crossed position, perform a lunge, engaging glutes, abs, and hamstrings to lower. Push off with your left foot to stand. Repeat on the other side.
18. Bottoms-Up Lunge to Crossover Lunge
Kneel on right knee with left foot forward. Push down into left heel and stand, squeezing glutes at the top. Step right foot forward on a diagonal across your body. Bend your knees and lower into a crossover lunge. Push off your right heel and return to standing. Step right foot back and lower into starting position.
Make it easier: Skip the crossover lunge.
19. Supported Single-Leg Squat
Stand in a doorway, near a wall, next to a secure chair, or other support you can hold. Grip the chair (or support) with right hand and lift right leg a few inches off the ground. Send hips back and, engaging your left glute, lower into a single-leg squat, using the chair for support. Straighten your leg and return to standing, using the chair to help. Repeat on other side.
Make it harder: Perform a single-leg squat without the support.
20. Single-Leg Deadlift
Stand on your right leg, slightly bending your knee. Keep your back flat as you hinge forward at the hips into a deadlift, sending left leg back behind you and arms below you. Only lower as far as you can without curving your back. Use your right hamstrings and glute to stand. Repeat on the other side.
21. Power Skip
From a lunge, with right foot in front and left foot behind, bring left foot forward and jump up (skipping), getting right foot completely off the ground and raising left knee high. Land lightly on your right foot first, before placing left foot on the ground behind you to return to starting position.
22. Rear Foot Elevated Deadlift
Place left foot on a low bench or step behind you, and remain close enough to the bench so your leg isn't stretching or locked. With back straight, hinge forward at the hips. Only bend as far as you can without letting your back curve. Use your glutes and hamstrings to return to an upright position.
23. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
Place left foot on a low bench or step behind you, and remain close enough to the bench so your left leg is not stretching or locked. Send hips back, and bend the right knee to lower into a lunge. Using your right glute, push up, and straighten right leg to complete the rep.
24. Single-Leg Squat Reach Across
Stand on your left leg with right foot a few inches off the ground, arms at your side. (You do not need to lift your left knee high. This should be a relaxed, balanced position.) Send hips back, bend your left knee, and lower into a squat. As you lower, reach your right arm across your body, toward the outside of your left foot. Get as low as you can (try to touch the ground). Return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.