How to tone your butt

Santa might not be able to bring you a new booty for Christmas, but I can!!

Have you ever wondered why you are busting your butt (literally) with doing squats, lunges, kickbacks, deadlifts, step-ups and every other “booty building” exercise out there but you still aren’t getting a nice, perky butt like you want?

Don’t worry, I’ve got your back (no pun intended!)

My booty and I have not always had the best relationship. It’s genetically bigger (which I’m okay with) but it hasn’t always cooperated when trying to tone it up the way I want.  

I am not kidding when I say this, but there is actually a syndrome called, “dead butt syndrome” or “Gluteal Amnesia”. 

This basically means that your buttocks stops firing (activating)  muscles effectively which results in the inability to produce the necessary force to activate them during, not only in daily activities, but especially during workouts. 

Here is my “Ah Ha” Moment:

After seeing a physical therapist a couple years ago for some knee pain, I was informed that I do not “activate” my glutes properly which had caused two issues:

1-Knee Pain

2-Inability to tone my booty

BOOM! My relationship with my glutes has never been the same!

The pain would occur most when I did any sprinting. This makes sense because sprinting is a very glute dominant exercise. 

Many people have weak glutes because they spend a lot of time sitting. This can switch ‘off’ the glutes from firing properly which puts a lot of pressure on the lower back, hips, knees, and feet. 

So, I have a little secret weapon in toning those booties!!

If you are not activating the muscles properly, those “booty toning” exercises are not going to work the way you imagine.

What does this have to do with toning your booty?

EVERYTHING! Our more sedentary lifestyles has drastically affected more than just our waistlines, it is affecting our butts too. 

Most of us have extremely tight hip flexors due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. I dont mean you are sitting around on your booty all day eating Doritos. But when we sit for long periods of time at our jobs or driving in the car, our hip flexors can become shortened and tighter. This causes the glute muscles not to fire properly and therefore they are not being activated or used the way they should be.

When this happens for long periods of time, our hip flexors get very tight and our glute muscles lengthen and are unable to generate as much force when you try to engage them such as in a squat for lunge. Instead, other muscles start compensating during the movements.

If the glute muscles are not activating properly, other areas of your body are affected. Inactive glutes can place a lot of pressure on the lower back, hips, knees, and feet.

Take my experience for example. My glutes were not firing properly and therefore, other muscles were compensating and causing pain in my knee during certain movements.

So, truth is, you can do “booty toning” exercises all day long. However, if the muscles are not activating properly, and not communicating with your brain, then you are not able to maximize the benefits of those exercises and your booty is not going to tone up the way you want it to.

Before you get too discouraged, there is hope!

Here is how to improve communication between your brain and your butt:

Before doing any kind of leg or booty exercises, we need to get those glute muscles firing and reminding your brain that they exist. So here are some of my favorite glute activation exercises as well as my favorite hip flexor stretch. There are many ways to stretch the hip flexors but to keep it simple, this one is my favorite. 

The best part about these exercises is that they can be done ANYTIME! So when you have a few minutes at home, start activating that booty even if you aren’t planning to workout. We want those butt muscles on fire at all times!

These exercises are more about training your glute muscles how to fire in order to create a better mind/muscle connection. Firing up your glute muscles before your training days will not only help improve your form but it will also help tone.  

Lets get that booty on fire!


Glute Bridges

I always tell my clients to imagine they are cracking a walnut with their butt cheeks. One thing to always keep in mind is to drive through your heels. This helps activate your glutes.

  1. Lie on your back and place a loop band around both knees, right above the knee.
  2. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground about shoulder width apart.
  3. Begin pressing your knees against the band
  4. While pressing your knees against the band, engage the core and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the floor
  5. Imagine squeezing a walnut between your buttcheeks!
  6. Hold for 5-10 seconds and lower
  7. DO NOT hyperextend your hips or allow your knees to cave in.
  8. Exhale as you bridge up, inhale as you lower your hips down.
  9. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions and 2-3 Sets

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Once you have mastered the glute bridge, advance the exercise by doing the single leg glute bridge.

  1. Set up as you would for the basic glute bridge
  2. Raise one leg off the ground like you are going to bring your knee to your chest.  
  3. Engage the core and squeeze your glute to lift your hips off the floor as high as you can with good form.
  4. Make sure to keep the pelvis level with the floor. Try not to allow the hips to drop on your right or left side.
  5. Hold for 5-10 Seconds and slowly lower.  
  6. DO NOT hyperextend your hips.
  7. Exhale as you bridge up, inhale as you lower your hips down.
  8. Keeping the abs engage prevents any pain in the lower back.
  9. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions each side and 2-3 sets per leg. Complete all repetitions before switching sides.


  1. Place a loop band around your thighs, just above the knee. Beginners may start without a band.
  2. Lie on your side propped on your forearm
  3. Place your feet together with one foot on top of the other
  4. Place your top hand on your outer glute to create mind to muscle connection.
  5. Push against the loop band and lift your top knee open while keeping for feet together
  6. Hold for 2-3 seconds at the top then slowly lower.
  7. Make sure your core is engaged and do not allow and rocking of the hips.
  8. Focus on squeezing the glute to create the movement
  9. Repeat for 10-15 reps then switch sides and 2-3 Sets. Complete all repetitions before switching sides.

Fire Hydrants

  1. Begin in tabletop position, placing your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Flex your feet.
  2. Keeping your pelvis stable by engaging your core, lift your right knee out to the side while maintaining a 90 degree bend in your knee. Hold for 2-3 seconds while squeezing your glute.
  3. Slowly lower to the starting position and repeat. Complete all repetitions before switching sides.
  4. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions each side and 2-3 sets per leg

Donkey Kicks

  1. Begin in tabletop position, placing your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Flex your feet.
  2. Keeping a 90 degree bend in your knee, press your leg back while imagining you are trying to place your foot flat on the ceiling.
  3. DO NOT LET YOU BACK ARCH! Engage the core by drawing belly button to spine in order to prevent arching.
  4. Focus on squeezing the glute as you raise your leg. Create the same sensation in the glute as you did in the basic and single leg bridge.
  5. Hold for 2-5 seconds at the top then slowly lower. Do not rush through the reps.
  6. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions each side and 2-3 sets per leg

Lateral Band Walks

  1. Place a loop band around your thighs just above your knees.
  2. Start with your feet hip width apart with your feet directly under your hips and squat down about halfway. Do not allow knees over your toes.
  3. In this position, push off of your left foot and step your right leg to the side. Be sure to step onto your heal and not toes.
  4. Resist the pull of the exercise band as you slowly bring your left foot toward your right, returning to the starting position.
  5. Continue stepping in the same direction for 10-15 repetitions before switching sides.
  6. Repeat for 2-3 sets per leg

How to tone your booty

Hip flexor Stretch

Muscles don’t get tight without reason. It is usually because they are compensating for a weakness elsewhere or are constantly in a shortened position. 

The hip flexors often get very tight and shortened from sitting for extended periods of time. This can inhibit the glutes from firing and “turning on” properly. There are many stretches however this is the most common and my favorite. 

  1. Start in a half-kneeling position, with your back leg being the one you are about to stretch.
  2. Hold a stick, dowel, or foam roller in front of you and actively push it down into the ground. This is a small, but important, step as it engages your core and forces the stretch to happen where we want it to.
  3. Keep your body upright and posteriorly rotate your pelvis (think: squeeze your glutes as hard as you can). 
  4. Keeping glutes squeezed and body upright, lean forward at the hips, holding at the end for no more than 2 seconds.
  5. Return to the start and repeat 8-10 x per leg

I also use a foam roller to losen tightness in my hips. I often combing stretching and foam rolling after my workouts or as part of my warm up. This really helps allow the glutes to activate more effectively.

Hopefully you and your glutes will be BFF’s again after following some of these exercises! 

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