Women's Training- 3 Exercises To Build That Booty- Part 1 ( activation exercises )

Building muscles within the glutes can be actually very difficult. Over the years, exercises have developed through social media, and instagram videos to what we believe will grow us the ‘perfect peach’ . Throughout the blog I will explain, and show a variation of exercises which I believe will help to develop and sculpt those glutes. We are first of all going to start with 3 simple glute activation exercises for you to practice, and then over the week develop these into some weight bearing exercises for muscle growth.

Activation/strengthening the glutes can really help us with running/cycling. Supporting the other muscles in the lower body, the glutes can really increase power and strength that go into every step or pedal. If not you tend to compensate with other muscle groups which in time can lead to injuries. Not only that but they also help to stabilise the hips/pelvis/core, and are the largest working muscle group in the body!

So first of all we need to understand what muscles are actually involved and work on ways to activate them, so during exercises we can really think about these areas to improve muscle growth. Below is a diagram showing the 3 muscle groups within the gluteals.


Gluteus Maximus-

The gluteus maximus muscle  is regarded as one of the strongest muscles in the human body. It is connected to the coccyx, or tailbone, as well as other surrounding bones. The gluteus maximus muscle is responsible for movement of the hip and thigh.

Gluteus Minimus -

The gluteus minimus, as its name suggests, is the smallest of the three gluteal muscles and lies beneath the other two muscles in the buttock region. This muscle shares almost identical functioning with the gluteus medius muscle, namely stabilising the pelvis during walking or running and abducting the thigh when the leg is not weight bearing. The gluteus minimus is one of the secondary muscles that can produce hip extension.

Gluteus Medius-

The gluteus medius muscle is one of the muscles on the side of your hip. It resides underneath your gluteus maximus muscle (buttocks muscle), and works with another small muscle, the gluteus minimus, to help support your hip. In the physical therapy world of rehabbing lower extremity injuries, it is super important.

Can’t I Just Squat and Lunge?

From a lot of people who haven’t done their research, you’ll hear: “Just squat more! And dead lift more!” Squats, deadlifts, and lunges definitely hit the glutes, but they also target a lot of other muscles, like the quads, hamstrings, abs, and others.

Although some people may build glutes from just squatting, deadlifting, and lunging, one size does not fit all and this approach may not work for everyone. For those who need a little extra help, or don't want to spend all their time in the squat rack, hit those glutes directly. If you want to really build an awesome tush, you need to hit it directly, with exercises that cause the highest percentage of muscle activation from the three gluteus muscles. The glutes are most activated when the hips are near full extension, so focus on exercises that target the glutes and achieve this full range of motion.

For this blog we will just be focusing on 3 pilates exercises to help activate the glutes, so that when it comes the weight bearing exercises you can really focus on this feeling.

  1. Pelvic Curl

    The pelvic curl is a classic warm-up exercise in Pilates. It stretches the spine and abdominal muscles while engaging the glutes and hamstrings.

    1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

    2. Exhale: Do a pelvic tilt by engaging the abdominal muscles to pull your navel down toward your spine.

    3. Inhale: Press down through your heels to curl the tailbone up. The hips raise, then the lower spine, and finally the middle spine.

    4. Come up to the base of the shoulder blades with a straight line from hip to shoulder.

    5. Hold the position for five full breaths digging your heels down into the mat. Inhale one last time.

    6. Exhale: Use abdominal control to roll the spine back down to the floor. Begin with the upper back and work your way down.

      To progress you can also add a resistance band just above the knee, making sure you hold a slight resistance throughout the exercise. This will also help to activate the gluteus medius. Adding a chi ball can also help to emphasise the activation of the glutes during the movement, as pressing against the balls to keep it between the knees will need you to activate the glute muscles to keep it in place.

Heel Beats

Heal beats may be the ultimate butt exercise in Pilates. It directly targets your glutes. It also works and strengthens all of your back muscles as well as your hamstrings and tones the inner thighs.

  1. Lie on your stomach with your forehead on your hands. Your legs are together, straight underneath you.

  2. Lift your abdominal muscles away from the mat. Feel your spine lengthen.

  3. Turn your legs out very slightly at the hip. Draw the inner thighs together and keep the heels as tight as you can. 

  4. Keep your abs lifted as you draw the legs up in the air off the mat. Lengthen them as straight as you can.

  5. Quickly beat your heels together and apart.

    You could also add a resistance band to this exercise to add further activation


Pilates clam is a simple exercise that begins to tone the hips and thighs. It also teaches pelvic stability as the leg rotates inward and outward at the hip. 

1.Lie on your side with your hips and shoulders in a straight line.

2.Bend your knees so that your thighs are at a 90-degree angle to your body.

3.Rest your head on your top arm as it is stretched out overhead, or bent, whichever is more comfortable. Make sure your neck is long so that your head is not tipped back or tucked forward.

4.Bend your top arm and place your hand on the floor in front of your chest for extra stability.

5.Stack your hips directly on top of each other vertically. Do the same with your shoulders. Use your deep abdominal muscles to keep this alignment throughout the exercise.

6.Inhale and keep your big toes together as you slowly rotate your leg in the hip socket so that the top knee opens. Open the knee only as far as you can go without disturbing the alignment of your hips.

7.Exhale and slowly bring your knee back to the start position.

Working on these three exercises over a few weeks will really help to progress the feeling of glute activation. On the following blog I will then be sharing some simple weight bearing exercises to progress the development of the glute muscles.

For any help with the exercises, or queries about any other training or nutrition do not hesitate to ask me a few questions in and out of the studio!

Rachel x