6 Butt Moves That Beat Squats

Trainers hail squats as the queen of butt-toning exercises. But if your knees are balky—they pop or grind as you drop into position—squats may be an unsuitable option. That’s okay: The squat queen can lose her crown to these joint-friendly, butt-blasting, derrière-toning moves.

To get the most bang for your butt—er, buck—complete one set through the full program, rest, then repeat one time. Try to do the workout 3 days a week. Although the photos demonstrate the moves with resistance (using Resist-a-Cuffs), start without resistance. This is a tough workout and you can expect some soreness initially; stretch and use foam rolling to massage any sore muscles. When you’re ready to increase the difficulty, try adding some resistance.

1. Donkey Kick Back

donkey kick

This exercise once had a bad rap for being hard on the lower back. But Donkey Kicks have come a long way since the ’80s, when the leg was lifted high enough to pop a light bulb. This updated Donkey Kick is not only safe, it actually helps strengthen your lower back, too. This version targets your core and the big muscles in your butt.

Start on all fours, palms under shoulders, knees under hips, and eyes on floor in front of you. Raise right back leg until even with torso. Hold momentarily then slowly draw leg back to start. Repeat for 12 reps, then switch to left leg.

Make it easier: Prop your forearms up on a couch.

2. Side Leg Raise

side laying leg raises


There are six different muscles that work in concert to rotate your legs outward from the hip. This move lights a fire under the side parts of your rear, hips, and outer thighs.

Lie on left side, left arm flat overhead, and head propped up on left bicep; place right hand on floor in front of you to balance and brace yourself. With both feet flexed, lift right leg to about a 45-degree angle—about 2 to 3 feet off floor. Hold momentarily. Slowly lower. Repeat for 12 reps, then switch sides.

Make it easier: Bend your knees and keep your feet together, only lifting your top knee up and down. The move will resemble a clam shell opening—which is what this variation of the exercise is called.