Do Squats Make Your Butt Bigger? 12 Exercises For Stronger Glutes

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There are many excellent benefits of squats, which is why squats are a mainstay in the workout routine of athletes of almost every sport and ability level, as well as everyday “Joes” and “Janes” trying to get fit.

For example, squats increase your heart rate and burn calories, improve your jumping ability, and can strengthen the muscles in your legs.

But do squats make your butt bigger? Do squats work your glutes?

In this article, we will discuss how to do a squat, answer the question, “Do squats make your butt bigger?” and how to get a bigger butt.

We will cover: 

  • How Do You Do a Squat?
  • How to Get a Bigger Butt
  • Do Squats Make Your Butt Bigger?
  • The Best Exercises for a Bigger Butt

Let’s get going!

A person doing a back squat.

How Do You Do a Squat?

Unless you played sports as a child or have worked with a personal trainer, you might not be sure how to actually perform a squat with the correct technique. Using proper form is crucial for reaping the benefits of the exercise and reducing the risk of joint injuries.

Here are the steps to perform a basic bodyweight squat:

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing forward, your core engaged, and your chest up and proud.
  2. Inhale, bending your knees and pushing your hips backward as if reaching your butt back to sit in a chair and keeping your back straight and chest up. Your arms can come forward in front of your body to act as a counterweight.
  3. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are flexed to 90 degrees.
  4. Exhale, pressing through your heels to return to the starting position.

Increase the intensity by holding dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or other weights or wearing a weighted vest.

If you struggle to achieve adequate squat depth (thighs parallel to the floor and knees bent to 90 degrees), you can place a weight plate or thick book under your heels to help compensate for tight ankles and inadequate pelvic rotation. 

A person doing a bodyweight squat.

How to Get a Bigger Butt

Ultimately, to get a bigger butt, you need to increase the size of your gluteal muscles.

Building muscle, which is referred to as hypertrophy, is a two-step process that first requires a stimulus and then the right environment and resources to promote muscle growth.

The stimulus comes by way of resistance training workouts.

To get a bigger butt, you need to perform exercises that target the glutes and hips, which will be listed later on.

The glutes, or gluteal muscles, are the three main muscles that form your butt: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.

The glutes are powerful hip extensors, and they also help stabilize and support the lower back and trunk. The smaller glute muscles play key roles in stabilizing the hips, abducting the leg, and internally and externally rotating the leg.

To increase glute size, it’s important to use a load that is heavy enough and that you do enough volume.

A class doing kettlebell goblet squats.

Hypertrophy training should use loads that are 65-85% of your 1 RM. Typically, you should perform 6–12 repetitions per set, and at least 3 sets per exercise, with 30-60 seconds of rest in between sets. 

Essentially, proper hypertrophy resistance training workouts act as the stimulus for muscle growth by damaging the muscle fibers. 

Lifting heavy weights for enough reps and sets causes tiny tears in your muscle, which, in turn, trigger your body to initiate the muscle reparative process, known as myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS), often simply referred to as muscle protein synthesis.

Muscle protein synthesis involves the assembly of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, into new proteins.

These new proteins are inserted along areas of muscle fiber damage on the existing muscle fibers, reinforcing the weakened spots. 

This reinforces and strengthens the muscle fibers while simultaneously thickening them, which increases the size of the muscles.

The key to successful hypertrophy training is to cause enough muscle breakdown through the workouts that you maximize the stimulus that triggers muscle protein synthesis.

Of course, it’s also a strategic game of balance because you don’t want to cause too much damage that you’ve injured tissue beyond the level of typical recovery and repair via healthy muscle protein synthesis.

People doing back squats.

In order for muscle protein synthesis to occur, you need to have the proper environment and resources previously mentioned as one of the two requisites for muscle growth. 

This comes down to recovery and diet. It’s important that you have enough recovery between workouts so that this process can occur.

Secondly, muscle protein synthesis is an energy-intensive process, and it requires amino acids, which come from the proteins you eat.

For this reason, when you’re trying to get a bigger butt, it’s important that you’re getting in enough total calories as well as enough protein, particularly after your workouts.

Most evidence suggests you need to be in a caloric surplus to build muscle, typically suggested to be about 10% above your total daily energy expenditure. So, for example, if you burn 2,000 calories a day between your BMR, exercise, daily activity, and digestion, you should consume 2,200 calories to support muscle growth.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that athletes consume at least 1.2–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Therefore, in sum, to get a bigger butt, you need to consistently perform exercises that strengthen the glutes using enough resistance and training volume to induce muscle damage, and then consume enough calories and protein in a nutritious, supportive diet, to cause hypertrophy, or muscle growth.

A person doing a bodyweight squat.

Do Squats Make Your Butt Bigger?

Now that we have covered the basics of how to get a bigger butt and increase the size of your glutes, let’s get to the ever-important question: “Do squats make your butt bigger?“

The key to answering this question is to answer, “Do squats work glute muscles?”

The shorter answer is yes; squats strengthen all of the major muscles in your lower body, including your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves, all of which are essential for power, core stability, and efficient forward propulsion when running, walking, jumping, and skipping. 

Therefore, as long as you are squatting with enough of a load and focusing on consuming a diet that supports muscle growth, squats can increase the size of your butt.

In fact, squats are an excellent exercise for the butt. A lot of people—especially runners and cyclists—struggle with activating their glutes.

A person doing a squat with a dumbbell.

The good news is that squats can be a great way to not only increase the strength of your glutes but also to develop the neuromuscular connection to help you consciously activate your glutes more easily. 

Properly using your glutes can reduce undue stress and strain on your hamstrings and low back muscles.

Strengthening the glutes and other leg muscles via squats can translate to improve athletic performance.

For example, a study involving rugby players found that eight weeks of squat training improved sprint speed by increasing leg strength, force development, and power.

Another study that investigated the effects of maximal strength training on running economy found that squats improved running economy, allowing runners to run longer and faster before fatiguing.

A person doing a squat at home.

The Best Exercises for a Bigger Butt

The following are some of the best glute-strengthening exercises for a bigger butt:

  • Deadlifts 
  • Squats
  • Single-leg deadlifts
  • Step-ups
  • Bulgarian split squats 
  • Glute bridges
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Glute-ham raises
  • Hip thrusts
  • Banded monster walks and sidesteps
  • Lateral lunges
A person doing a resistance band squat.

You should perform your glute-strengthening exercises 2-3 days per week, depending on your goals and overall workout plan.

Squats should definitely be one of the exercises you perform to get a bigger butt and strengthen your glutes.

One of the beauties of squats as an exercise is that the squat is a foundational movement pattern, but there are so many squat variations to perform that will target different areas of the butt, as well as different leg muscles aside from the glutes.

Some of the best squat variations for a bigger butt include basic squats, front squats, back squats, goblet squats, sumo squats, single-leg squats, banded squats, jump squats, split squats, and squat holds.

Incorporating numerous variations of squats will help develop all the regions of the glutes for a more shapely, stronger, and functional butt.

Again, remember to use heavy loads (65-85% of 1RM) and perform 8 to 12 repetitions for three or more sets.

Would you like to join our squat challenge to really get you in the habit of doing squats? Start today!

A person doing a kettlebell goblet squat.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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