15-Minute Dumbbell Butt Workout

By Amy Marturana

It’s no secret that your butt does a lot for you. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to walk up stairs, or go on a run, or hike up to the top of a mountain. But as much as you use your butt to move through life, you probably also spend a lot of time sitting on it, too. Unless it’s your job to be up and moving all day, your butt probably spends more time relaxing than it does actively working. While relaxing sounds like a positive thing, in this case, it’s not.

Sitting all day can lead to something called gluteal amnesia, or “dead butt syndrome,” which means that your butt muscles essentially forget to engage as much as they should during both everyday movements and your workouts. When your glutes aren’t pulling their weight, other muscles like the quads and hip flexors take over. Not only does this mean your butt exercises may not be targeting the muscles you want them to, but also, it can cause injury in the muscle that’s overcompensating. Lena Marti, a NASM-certified personal trainer in New York City, tells SELF that weakened glutes can even contribute to “poor core strength, diminished mobility, and poor posture.”

And let’s be honest: There’s just something really satisfying about working your glutes. It’s one of the biggest, strongest muscle groups in your body, and is capable of a lot. Doing a butt workout is a great way to feel strong and powerful—a big perk of fitness that we should all embrace more often.

To help you feel the burn and strengthen your behind, Marti put together the below 15-minute dumbbell workout. “Doing this isolated glute workout will target the three main muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius,” Marti says. Working all three is important for establishing well-rounded (pun absolutely intended) strength. The minimus and medius are often neglected in go-to butt exercises like squats, so incorporating moves that work your butt from all angles is a must.

Here’s how to do the workout:

All you need is a pair of dumbbells—start with 8 to 10 pounds and increase the weight as you get stronger.

Marti suggests grouping the below exercises into pairs. Then, alternate between two exercises for 3 sets, rest for 30 seconds, and then move onto the next pair of exercises. You can also just do one set of each exercise and repeat the circuit two or three times, depending on how much time you have.

  • Sumo Pulse Squats — 12 reps
  • Curtsy Lunges — 12 reps alternating sides
  • Donkey Kicks — 12 reps each side
  • Weighted Glute Bridges — 12 reps
  • Bulgarian Split Squats — 12 reps each side
  • Single Leg Deadlifts — 12 reps each side
  • Kneeling Side Kicks — 12 reps each side
  • Lateral Lunges — 12 reps alternating sides
  • Eccentric Deadlifts — 12 reps
  • Three-Pulse Squat Jumps — 12 reps

You can do this workout on its own when you just want to show your glutes some love, or add it to the end of a cardio workout as a bonus.

Here’s how to do each move:

Sumo Pulse Squats — 12 reps

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width, toes pointed out, holding the weights in front of your body with your palms facing each other.
  • Lower your butt a few inches toward the ground, keeping your back straight and chest up.
  • Stand back up just a few inches, and then immediately lower back down, in a pulsing movement.
  • Do 12 reps.

Curtsy Lunges — 12 reps alternating sides

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step your right foot diagonally behind you and lower your right knee until it almost touches the ground. Your front knee should be bent 90 degrees.
  • Push through your left heel to return to starting position.
  • Repeat on the left side. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps, alternating sides.

Donkey Kicks — 12 reps each side

  • Start on all fours with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Place a dumbbell behind your right knee.
  • Keep your right knee bent at 90 degrees and lift it to hip level. Engage and lift from your butt.
  • Lower your right leg and stop when your knee is about an inch off the floor. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps. Switch sides and repeat.

Weighted Glute Bridges — 12 reps

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and dumbbells resting on your hips. Your feet should be about hip-distance apart with your heels a few inches away from your butt.
  • Push through your heels to lift your hips up while squeezing your glutes. Try to create one diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees.
  • Pause for 1 to 2 seconds, then slowly lower back down to the ground. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps.

Bulgarian Split Squats — 12 reps each side

  • Position yourself into a staggered stance. Prop your rear foot on a bench or chair. Your front leg should be 2 to 3 feet in front of the bench.
  • Bend at your knees and hips to lower into a split squat.
  • Make sure to keep your back straight, shoulders back, and chest up.
  • Push through the heel of your standing leg as you straighten your knees and return to start. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps on each side.

Single-Leg Deadlifts — 12 reps each side

  • Stand with your feet together, holding a weight in each hand in front of your legs.
  • Shift your weight to your right leg and while keeping a slight bend in your right knee, raise your left leg straight behind your body, hinge at the hips to bring your torso parallel to the floor, and lower the weight toward the floor.
  • Keep your back flat. At the bottom of the movement, your torso and left leg should be almost parallel to the floor, with the weight a few inches off the ground. (If your hamstrings are tight, you may not be able to lift your leg as high.)
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your right heel to stand up straight and pull the weights back up to starting position. Bring your left leg back down to meet your right, but just let your toes tap the floor lightly—don’t put any weight on your left foot.
  • Pause at the top and squeeze your butt. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps. Switch legs and repeat.

Kneeling Side Kicks — 12 reps each side

  • Start on all fours with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Place a dumbbell behind your right knee.
  • Keep your right knee bent at 90 degrees and lift it out to the side as high as you can. Engage and lift from your butt.
  • Lower back down to starting position. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps, and then repeat on the other leg.

Lateral Lunges — 12 reps alternating sides

  • Start with your feet directly under your hips, holding a dumbbell in each hand above your shoulders.
  • Take a big step to the side with your right foot. Bend your right knee as you hinge forward at the hips and push your butt back into a lunge.
  • Keep your chest lifted and core engaged.
  • Push through your right heel to stand up straight and bring your right leg back to starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps, alternating sides.

Eccentric Deadlifts — 12 reps

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Hinge at your hips and bend your knees as you lower your body. Think about pushing your butt back.
  • Hold the dumbbells close to your legs as you descend. Pull back on your shoulder blades and do not let your back arch.
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your heels to stand up straight. Keep the weights close to your shins as you pull.
  • Pause at the top and squeeze your butt. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps.

Three-Pulse Squat Jumps — 12 reps

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides.
  • Hinge forward at your hips and sit your butt back into a squat. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Do three pulses by raising your butt a few inches and then lowering it just a few inches.
  • On the third pulse, jump up into the air as high as you can and straighten out your legs. Keep your back straight and chest lifted. -Land back on the floor with soft knees. That’s 1 rep.
  • Do 12 reps.

Lena Marti is wearing a Fabletics sports bra and leggings, similar styles at fabletics.com; Nike Metcon sneakers, similar styles at nike.com.

 

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