According to countless research studies on glute activation the squat is NOT the best exercise for getting your best booty which is why I stopped squatting so much since 2011. But there is one best squat trick that will get you more glute muscle activation and strength if you're willing to try it. It's the movement that helped me achieve the rounder bigger curvier and toned booty you see in pic here at age 45.
All those years I spent squatting heavy weight in the gym were a complete waste of my time and had I known just this one squat trick I could have had the butt I have now at 45 when I was 25! Ready to get your best butt too? Keep reading then try the exercises and circuits below...
So according to various butt research scientists the butt muscles, specifically the gluteus maximus, is most active when there is 0 degrees of hip extension and 90 degrees of knee flexion.
If you want to know what this feels like
simply strap an ankle weight around your ankle then stand with feet hip width
apart and bend one knee to lift heel up behind you to knee level. Just from this standing position you can feel a strong butt muscle contraction on both sides.
This movement can also be achieved from standing with torso bent over as shown in upper right video here or from supine as shown in lower left video here *not sure why but play button on video below is invisible so just hover over middle of thumbnail to watch the video.
It can also be achieved kneeling on hands and knees with one bent leg raised so leg is even with torso (a.k.a. bent leg glute kickback starting position) or from sitting as shown in the pic of reverse plank db press above.
There are actually many ways to achieve zero degrees of hip extension and 90 degrees of knee flexion so these are just a few ways I've featured this movement in past articles and videos.
So now that you know the conditions that create maximal gluteus maximus activation it's easy to understand why the basic squat is NOT the best exercise for your booty regardless of how many instagram or facebook pics uneducated trainers post about how "you need to squat to get a booty".
When you squat you are flexing both hips AND knees to 90 degrees and it actually does not take a research scientist to know that your butt is hardly doing anything when you are in a parallel squat position. I've filmed videos that involved 5 min. of continuous squatting and my butt felt NOTHING!
If you doubt this just stand with feet about hip width apart and lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel with floor then hold it for 30 seconds. Feel your butt with your hands and you will feel nothing because your glutes are in a stretch position. What you will feel is your thighs working hard without even touching them.
Even when I squatted 90-100 lb for 3 sets of 15-20 reps on the free weight racks at the gym with legs slightly past parallel to floor every single rep my butt felt NOTHING and I had a flat butt too prove it just like the girl in pic here.
The problem with the squat as a butt exercise is that the minute you bend at the hip joint your butt is stretching and not in the best position to contract maximally regardless of what some trainers seem to believe. Even as you begin to come out of the squat your booty is never in an advantageous position that fully allows it to contract hard the way it would from a hands and knees glute kickback exercise or from a supine single leg bridge position.
I really wish researcher would reveal that your butt does absolutely zero work when squatting so squat lovers everywhere would have to move on to better booty exercises but the truth is that your booty muscles do some work in a parallel squat just not anywhere near the amount of work that silly trainers will have you believe. The glutes are really just assisting and stabilizing the squat movement UNLESS you are squatting butt to heels deep...
Another study that was slightly flawed due to lack of control of important variables found that squatting way below parallel -like I'm doing in pic here and like youv'e seen me do in many many videos- increases glute muscle activation considerably.
Some trainers consider the findings of this study inconclusive but this important study still proves one thing: that the minute you take your butt to your heels your thighs virtually disengage which is why it's so easy for yogis to use this primal squat position as a restorative pose.
Your thighs and hamstrings are doing virtually nothing in a deep squat, your butt is getting some stretch while your back is getting a very nice stretch. If this position was actual work do you honestly think women would've used it for childbirth many years ago. Heck no! Only dumb trainers believe this is hard work. Sitting low like this is easy and feels great and also makes childbirth much easier than laying on your back but that is a whole other article.
It's when you have to come out of this deep squat position that your gluteus maximus has to contract hard to get you back up to parallel squat. Without a strong glute contraction you will fail to come up out of a deep squat and fall on your side or butt like some of my clients with no glute activation do. This doesn't hurt your body just your ego by the way.
So why does this even matter? Because even though the parallel squat may not be the best move to target your booty, the deep butt to heels squat may be a great way to increase and strengthen glute activation which is key for getting a better butt from exercises that DO target the glutes more effectively.
This is the reason I include deep squats in various butt circuit workout videos. One of my favorites is the sumo squat in sexiest female body workout inspired by Kylie Mingue's sexercise video. Another great one is the prayer squat in female figure motion circuit that I filmed for subscribers on the sexy workouts page. You can also get started with the spinal rock getup jump featured in best fat burning exercises article.
But like I've stated many times and explained in many videos, there is no best squat or best exercise or one best way to train every female. There are exercises that are more effective for achieving certain goals and a certain body shape so be sure to do what is right for you.
Ultimately it's your body that knows best what it needs and you will get better results by giving your body what it needs most at this time. This requires some thinking and experimenting on your part. It also requires following your instincts which is hard to do in our do-what -everybody-else-is-doing culture but the results you get when you start listening to your body and doing what serves you best will amaze you.