I’m old school. I like brutal exercises to work the butt. If you go to cultures where sitting in chairs is not common, you’ll see perfectly sculpted asses. Here are five of my favorites for bringing up the rear:
The grandaddy. Make sure to work your technique properly. My favorite is the selectorized FreeMotion squat. It has swiveling shoulder pads that adjust to your build, so that you’re not balancing a bar across your back. I also like to use my palms to push up against the handles to distribute the load even further. It angles backward as you descend into a squat, just like your body does, activating the glutes and taking pressure off the knees. Most importantly, the selectorized version gets harder at the top to match your strength.
2. Uphill walking
Walking in general, and especially uphill walking, involves significant hip extension, which is a primary function of the gluteus maximus.
Along the same lines, stairs are a really great progression from uphill walking. Take your time, because they are tough! Don’t feel like you always need to be indoors, either. Some hiking trails have man-made “steps” built into them. If your legs are long enough, skip every other step. You’ll get a greater range of motion, and hence, greater glute activation.
4. Hip extension machines
These allow you to load the hip muscles, sometimes without involving the knees (which tend to get overworked in leg workouts). My preference is the LifeFitness “Hip & Glute”. It allows the greatest range of motion and the counterweight is guarded so you don’t get hit by it (which has happened to me). You also benefit from standing on the non-working leg.
Another good one, if you can find it, is the Hammer Strength “Hip and Back” machine. You lie on your back and extend both hips at the same time, with a pad behind each knee. The only caveat is that with heavy loads, you’ll need to buckle the seat belt and really grip the handles to keep your butt from lifting off the bench.
5. Lateral movement
Now we’re getting into the gluteus medius and minimus. If you want your glutes to be well-rounded, lateral movements are necessary. Skip the seated abducion/adducion machines once in a while and go functional. Standing sideways movements integrate abduction/adduction, extension, and rotation. Have fun with this. You can do: sideways walking with resistance bands attached to your ankles, slideboards, cariocas, sports that involve lateral motion/change of direction, and even sideways uphill walking/stairclimbing.
Most important for a Brazilian-like butt, get lean! You need to be lean to bring out the muscle shape and give the illusion of a round butt with a tight waist. You don’t need to be anatomy chart lean, but you’ll never see an anatomy chart or a cadaver with a flat butt.