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How to shape and build a better butt without doing squats

Squats are widely considered the golden child of butt exercises, they promise to grow and shape your rear, firm and “tone”. While I think the squat is an important exercise for many reasons, I do not put it at the top of my list for booty exercises. Heck, it’s not even top 5! There are many ways to effectively shape your butt without squats.

Don’t get me wrong, squats are a great compound exercise and I do them all the time. They strengthen your quads, hamstrings calves and glutes. They create an anabolic environment where your entire body is working and building muscle. Your core has to work, your back, your joints; everything is alert and working during a squat. If you can safely and effectively do so, by no means should you NOT squat.

I am a quad dominant person, and over the years I’ve struggled with all types of squat variations and techniques, trying to get my bum to grow without my quads hulking out. Try as I might I’d feel the pump in my legs and nothing going on in the rear. It simply comes down to the fact that you cannot expect bum to grow and your legs to not. However, there are some more effective exercises to take the focus off the legs and zone in on the glutes. If you’re squatting and you find your legs burning but not feeling so much going on in your bum, try the following exercises instead.

3 exercises that shape your butt without squats:


Warm up with this one. Put a band around your ankles or over top of your shoelaces, and in a squat position slowly step sideways keeping your hips and core controlled with little to no movement. You should feel your hips, glutes, and abductors (side of your legs) burning.

Tip: Keep the tension in the band the whole time, don’t let the back foot shoot back to meet the front. Feel the resistance in both legs!

band side walks butt warm up


  1. One foot forward one foot back, all the weight should be on your front leg. Your back foot should be positioned with the heel up and “forgotten” about. This back leg is just there to stabilize, not to do any work at all.
  2. Lean forward – keeping your core braced and your back straight, lean forward so your hips hinge back to the wall slightly and your shoulders are over top of your knees
  3. Move straight up and straight down – torso stays static
  4. Should feel yourself pushing up from the floor using your glutes and breathing out as you push up, keep your abs tight and hips strong. There should be no movement in the lower back

If you can’t feel your glutes working, or if the burning is happening in your legs, adjust your positioning. Lean forward more, watch that your spine is not flexing, or think about pushing up through your heel.

lunge for booty building


  1. Start in a seated position with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor and your shoulder blades against the bench
  2. Brace your core and keep your back straight as you push your glutes up off the floor until your back is parallel or close to parallel to the floor
  3. You want to keep an posterior pelvic tilt at the top, so your back stays straight and your glutes are doing the work
  4. Squeeze and hold for one or two seconds at the top, and slowly come back down. Repeat.

This can be done at home using a chair or the couch.

Using a band on the hip thrust exercise forces your glutes to engage, especially your medius. I got my bands here!

hip thrust build a butt