I am not a curvy person and the curves that I have managed to acquire are due to my dedication in the gym as well as dedication to eating a lot of clean food. If you are naturally very thin and want to build some lean muscle mass and curves, you gotta work on your glutes! I will list a few of my favorite exercises. The main thing with this, though, is to stay patient and continue to work hard and eat clean on a daily basis. Be sure you are eating enough calories though or else you won’t be able to BUILD muscle!
- Wide stance back squat (2x per week; aim for heavy reps of 8-10)
The back squat should be one of the main leg exercises you do every single week – preferably twice a week. This compound movement utilizes so many muscle fibers and works so many muscles that it is imperative to include in your workouts so that you get stronger and recruit more muscle fibers.I recommend a wider stance, toes pointed out, and squat at least parallel. Stick to the 5-8 rep range as well as 10-12. Since the back squat is so crucial for getting stronger (and getting stronger means progressively adding more weight, building more muscle) I prefer to keep my rep ranges lower and keep the weight higher. My fifth rep is usually quite a struggle with back squat. I do higher reps on other glute building exercises like the hip thruster, which I discuss below. But it’s good to mix things up and often do lower rep ranges, higher weight, and vice versa. Do aim for maximum weight though – with proper form of course.
- Bulgarian split squat (heavy reps of 8-10)
This is definitely where I feel the burn in my glutes and upper hamstrings. I recommend using a bench that is not able to move – usually at gyms they have a few benches that are secured to the ground. Take 2 dumbbells (or a kettlebell) and walk over to the bench and place one leg behind you on the bench. Be sure your knees do not pass over your toes when you squat down and do about 8-10 reps per leg. I like to do anywhere between 5-9 sets of this. You can also squat down and just hold the position (without weight) for 30 seconds (or as long as you can) to REALLY feel the burn. Do this exercise once per week. These are great for building glutes as well as stabilizers and core because you will find it’s challenging to maintain balance while doing this. That means it’s a killer workout so don’t give up. Lower the weight if you need to until you are comfortable doing them!
- Weighted Walking lunges – wide steps
To work the glutes more in walking lunges simply take wider steps! You will work quads more if the steps are narrow. Take two heavy dumbbells (don’t be shy. this weight should scare you a little – I take 2 35# DBs and it’s killer). Start with a lighter set if needed and take about 16 alternating steps in one direction, take a 20 second break, then repeat coming back the other way. Do this 3-4 times. Increase the weight as needed. Walking lunges work your core and many parts of your legs and when you hold heavy enough dumbbells you work your grip strength and traps! I can’t express the importance of utilizing this exercise! Do it every week!
- Single leg deadlifts with dumbbells
These work your glutes and upper hams great. So many different variations. I take two dumbbells, 25 to 30# and do these. You keep the standing/supporting leg slightly stiff/bent knee (but not too bent; google images of this). Hold 2 DBs (I find it easier to maintain balance with two DBs) and find a point in front of you to stare at so you don’t lose balance. Bend over and keep weight in heels (always keep weight in heels) and try to really feel the muscle activate. Do 8-10 reps per leg and do 4 sets total.
- Hip thrusters
These are great to add towards the end of your workout. Take a 35-45# plate and load it up on your hips and lay on the ground with feet on a bench that does not move (place the plate on your lap – start with 25# if needed, that is still great). Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings and raise your butt up so that your legs create a 90 degree angle. Then lower. Repeat 20-25 times until your legs burn! Rest, then repeat this 4-5 times total.
The above is one version to try. The other version is to take a loaded barbell and sit against a bench and put the barbell across your hips with a pad if needed and press up.
YET ANOTHER version I just discovered – you can do these with the leg extension machine. Lean against the seat with your upper back and have your hips up – legs at 90 degree angle and feet flat on floor – hips are underneath the part where you’d normally press up with your quad – you can press your hips up to the ceiling and back down, using your glutes! Do sets of 10-15 with varying weight.
- Butt blaster
I am not sure if all gyms have this or not, but, if yours does you should try it out. You can also do a variation of this with the cable machine if needed and I will describe how in a second. With the butt blaster you are on all fours and you place one leg behind you and you essentially push the weight back and up at an angle so that you isolate and use your glute and upper hamstring (some quad, too). I recommend higher reps for this, lower weight, but 15 reps should be quite difficult.
You can also use the cable machine – place the cable at the floor level and wrap the strap/find the ankle strap and put it around your ankle. Keeping slight bend in left knee, kick your right leg back and straight, kicking up to almost 90 degree angle with the floor. Repeat 15-20 times. Switch legs and do this 3-4 times per leg. This exercise will comparably work your glutes.
I also recommend incorporating jumping into your weekly workouts -multiple times a week. These will build strength and power as well as burn fat which is essential to building muscular glutes. I love doing squat jumps with dumbbells – 4 sets of 10-15 reps with varying dumbbell weight – also lunge jumps are awesome too. You can make them harder by holding a 20# kettlebell at your chest (or 10 or 15#) and doing lunge jumps that way! I do at least 20 reps at a time -10 per leg. And do multiple sets. Jumping is so good to build strong bones so I recommend you incorporate some kind of jumping 3-4 times a week! Add them as finishers to your workouts!
IN SUM: The most important factor in building glutes is to squat. Focus on functional movements first and foremost. Do not shy away from going heavy, either. I am also a huge fan of squatting 2x per week. I do one heavy, hard leg day and then one lighter leg day later on in the week. Google youtube videos if you are unsure of proper form! Don’t be scared of the weight room – make yourself get out of your comfort zone. I was scared at first too but just ACT like you know just what you are doing (I promise no one is paying attention to you). LIFT HEAVY LADIES and build those glutes! Your legs and future curves will thank you! Be patient and work hard and you will get results.