Perk Your Glutes Without Bulking Up Your Legs? Possible!

ballet booties

Q: I was wondering if you could give me tips on building mass onto my glutes/buttocks, but without adding bulk to the rest of my legs? Any specific exercises that would isolate this area only/amount of reps and sets/weight, etc? Thank you. – Sophie

A: I, too, have been on a mission to get bigger buns. A few years back I started doing more cardio, and I really trimmed down—in the booty department. I was, well, bummed.

Seeking that perky ballet booty, I shifted back to resistance training to get my bum back. After a while, I noticed that I was getting a little more than I bargained for: my quads and hamstrings bulked up, too. So I refined my approach, with some success.

Here’s one glute-shaping exercise that worked wonders for me.

Walking Lunge Series

  • What you need: A bit of space to move forward. I do it in the hallway or at the gym.
  • How-to: Lunge forward with your right leg, making a right angle with your knee when you dip. Push up and—with your weight balanced on that right leg—lift your left leg back and squeeze the left glute. Alternate sides as you move forward. When you reach the wall, turn around and repeat. Just do as many reps as you can!
  • Helpful hints: Keep a strong core and straight posture. This helps with balance, and prevents you from arching your lower back by kicking too high. The important thing is not how high you lift your leg, but squeezing your glute as you lift. You can do this exercise with your hands on your hips or with dumbbells.
  • Results: This lunge series is a fabulous way to build up your booty, but I must warn you: my quads always bulk up a little, too. It seems you just can’t work your glutes without the help of some surrounding muscles!

More Ways to Perk Up Your Backside

If you like exercise DVDs, I love the workouts in Kim Kardashian’s Ultimate Butt Body Sculpt and Elle Glam Fitness’ Total Toning Workout. Both of these are fairly intense workouts (with modifications, if you’re just starting out) and they’re fun. They use a lot of front, back and side lunges, squats and pliés, and leg lifts— all of which you can do without equipment.

As always, you should be using protein after your strength training workout. It’ll help build up those glute muscles you’ve worked so hard on.

Just like you can’t lose fat in a single targeted spot, it’s never easy to isolate a single muscle without adding a little bulk to corresponding muscles. Muscle groups are designed to work together— it’s what allows the human body to be strong and efficient.

However, you can put more focus on your backside by engaging your glutes in every exercise you do (squeeeeeze!).

If, in the end, you can’t get tight glutes without a little leg bulk, remember: no one ever complains about a dancer’s legs!

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Chelsea Bush

About Chelsea Bush

Chelsea Bush is a writer on the Ask Fitness Coach team and has covered fitness, health and wellness topics for several magazines. Her favorite ways to get fit: cycling, resistance training and keeping up with her boxer, Greta. Follow her fitness tweets at