young brunette woman doing lunge stretch on a black mat in a gym

When it comes to building your butt – and in fact, any muscle around the body – it takes more than just simple bodyweight exercises.

Hypertrophy Specific Training (HST) - or muscle building – is based on a number of factors which are all key on helping you to shape muscle as well as increase its size.

The problem is, there is so much information out there now, so it can be hard to know what route to take. So let's banish some of those myths...

Top 6 myths about toning your butt

  1. To get a bigger butt you need to do squats – don't get us wrong, squats are awesome compound exercises. However, if your technique isn't quite right or you're not taking enough weight, it's most likely that you're either just targeting your quads. Or maybe you've not got enough weight to build any muscle in the first place. Targeting your glutes also requires getting a deep, full squat. This is hard to do as a beginner.
  2. It's just about squats – there are so many exercises that target your glutes and deep, back squats are just one of those types of exercises. Including a variety of exercises into your training will really help shape your butt as well as give you more optimum strength. We'll go more into what these exercises are further down.
  3. It's all about the butt – there are few of us who don't want to turn heads. However, fitness is a holistic approach. And if you’re working your glutes, you need to think about your hamstrings, quads, hips and lower back just as much, to help create a strong and well-balanced form.
  4. It doesn't matter what you eat – muscle growth requires good, balanced nutrition. Your body can't make muscle out of nothing! So, eating right is key. Protein is the main contributor to this as well as a few important amino acids. And of course, staying well-hydrated and getting enough rest is also key to your progression.
  5. You just need to strengthen – unfortunately our butts are one of the main places our bodies store fat. So, as well as training with weights, you'll want to be building in some fat burning exercises too. HIIT classes are great for calorie burning and they usually incorporate strengthening too. And of course, eating right is super important so make sure you maintain a balanced diet that is high in sources of protein and fresh veg.
  6. The pics are all real – There are so many images online now that many of us can feel bombarded by images of "the perfect butt". Firstly, so many of these images have been filtered, photoshopped and positioned in a certain way so what you see might not even be real. Secondly, we're all different so trying to look like something we're not is always going to result in disappointment. Fitness is about being the best that we can be. So, train hard and reap the rewards.

group exercise women on pink yoga mats doing donkey kicks

How do you build muscle?

Training to make your muscles bigger – or hypertrophy – is still a well-disputed topic. However, there are a few basic rules we need to follow to allow our muscles to grow:

  1. Lift heavy – when it comes to growing your muscles, always favour intensity over frequency. This means doing fewer reps with a higher weight (80-90% of your one rep max). This type of training usually equates to doing 3-5 sets of 4-6 reps per set (around 4-5 minutes, 2-3 times per week).
  2. Train to failure – by the end of each set, you should be reaching near failure. And by the end of your last rep of your last set, your muscles should be pushed to their limits. This is what stimulates your body's muscle building hormones.
  3. Be explosive – training explosively is about tearing your muscle fibers in a controlled way so that – with the right nutrition and enough rest – they grow back bigger. This is part of your body's response to the damage to the muscle fibers. It recognises the damage as a risk and so increases the muscle size during repair, to protect it from further damage.
  4. Be progressive – as your muscles get bigger and stronger, you will be able to lift more. This means your one rep max will increase. If you stay at the same weight that you started at, you'll no longer be getting the results you want in terms of size. So, as you progress, keep upping the weight load.

young super fit woman with abs doing mountain climbers using a slam ball

Free weights vs machines

Before we tackle any of the exercises, it's worth mentioning here that whenever you do any sort of weightlifting, you need to use free weights.

We mentioned earlier that everyone is different. This isn't just in terms of appearance, but it's how our bodies move too. Previous injuries, strength, flexibility – they're all factors in determining what exercises are best for helping you target specific areas.

If you have a hip injury or poor flexibility, traditional squats – or simply trying to copy what you see online – might not help you.

Rather than getting stuck on trying to force yourself to copy someone else's body movements, listen to your body and see what needs strengthening, what needs stretching and any areas where you need to restore balance.

You also might like to try a variety of exercises to see which ones work best for you.



Danielle's ultimate leg and booty workout

Watch Danielle from MSP Fitness take you through her ultimate leg and booty workout:


Workout summary

  • Wall sits – 3x30 seconds
  • Squats – 3 x 12 reps
  • Sumo deadlifts – 3 x 10 reps
  • Static lunges – 3 x 10 reps on each leg
  • Hip thrusts – 3 x 10 reps
  • Split squats – 3 x 10 reps on each leg
  • Jump squats – 3 x 12 reps

Danielle has focused on doing a higher rep workout which is fantastic for strengthening. Depending on your goals, you might want to drop the reps and increase the weight, to maximise your gains.

To get yourself any of the gym equipment featured in this workout video, head over to our website now:

Follow our tips alongside Danielle's awesome workout for a booty you can really be proud of. You can also find more exercises as well as tips for beginners in our best glute exercises blog. And if you're not yet confident using weight plates, sandbags are great giving you a good amount of weight without having to handle a 20kg bar.

Get more tips, ideas and inspiration on Instagram and Facebook @Mirafitofficial.

Find out more about MSP Fitness here.