People swoon over J-Lo and Beyonce for their peachy derrieres, and for good reason too -- the skinny size zero look is out, and big butts are most definitely back in. If your quest for a bigger booty involves nothing more than jumping on the elliptical or stair stepper, you're going to get nowhere fast. For that "baby got back" look, you need weight training -- and lots of it.
Good old-fashioned squats hit your butt and hips like no other exercise. You can squat with a barbell, dumbbells or just use your body weight, but make sure you go deep -- a wide-stance deep squat works your glutes much more than a narrow-stance shallow squat, claims strength coach Charles Poliquin, author of "German Body Composition." Stay away from the Smith Machine though -- while it may seem like a safer, more friendly version of the free-weight squat, it's actually its evil twin. Using the Smith machine stops your stabilizing muscles from firing, making it a much less effective exercise, according to Charlotte Andersen, author of "The Great Fitness Experiment."
Deadlifts hit your posterior chain harder than any other exercise, says trainer Eric Cressey, owner of Cressey Performance. Your posterior chain encompasses your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, core and adductors -- basically your butt and hips. Don't stop at regular deadlifts though; there are plenty of awesome variations such as stiff-legged, snatch-grip, deficit and trap bar deadlifts that all work the muscles slightly differently. Deadlifts are a slightly more complex exercise, so you may want to have a trainer at the gym double check your form.
Squat and deadlift variations will torch your butt and hips more than any inner thigh machine, but to really get results, a few specialized exercises might be in order. Strength coach Bret Contreras, author of "Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening," asked several fitness female pros to name their favorite glute exercises. In addition to squats and deadlifts, kettlebell swings, step-ups, hip thrusts and glute bridges all ranked high.
Train your butt and hips once a week with dedicated sessions. Start off with one squat and one deadlift variation of your choosing. Vary which ones you do each week and start off with five sets of five repetitions, aiming to add little weight or perform extra reps each time you do them. Then, move on to your specialized exercises. Again, pick a couple and really work on getting a good mind-muscle connection -- feel the burn. Train with dedication and you'll have hardened hips and buns of steel in no time.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.