"Strength training boasts plenty of benefits for your overall health and wellness, but one thing exercise cannot do is grow you a 'bigger' booty," says Nicole Blades, as NASM-certified trainer at BodyRoc FitLab in Connecticut. "What daily or weekly squats will do is strengthen those big muscles in your lower body—primarily the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hips."
Walter Kemp, a certified trainer at obé Fitness, says there's no perfect answer for how many squats you should do each day for a bigger butt because people have different body types. "We are all built differently and have different needs as far as muscle development," Kemp says.
That said, scoring a rounder backside means doing a variety of exercises that target different muscles in your glutes (yes, there's more than one muscle!). And it's important to train the other muscles if you ultimately want a rounder, bigger booty. Here's what you need to know about your glutes and what can do to improve your squat so you can get the best booty boost from your workouts.
If you're wondering how many reps of squats you should aim for in a workout, 10 to 15 reps for three to four rounds is ideal.
What are the muscles in your glutes?
Your glutes are comprised of three muscles: gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and gluteus maximus. Your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your glutes and often gets the most action because it's the primary mover for several butt exercises, like squats, deadlifts, and even running. But that doesn't mean you should ignore your other glute muscles.
The gluteus medius and minimus are responsible for abduction (moving your legs away from the midline), hip rotation, and hip stability. A weakness in these minor glute muscles often leads to knee and low-back pain.
Zoe Rodriguez, a certified personal trainer and instructor for Plankk Studio, a fitness app for on-demand workout classes, says, "I do a lot of resistance band work to engage the smaller glute muscles. Exercises like hip thrusts, glute bridges, and clam, can round out the top of your butt for that fuller look." Rodriguez says that these exercises can also be used as a warm-up to wake up the muscles before you start doing squats, which brings us to our next question:
How often should I do squats every week?
You shouldn't be doing squats every day. In fact, Rodriguez says that recovery days are just as important as working your glutes when it comes to building a bigger booty. "I generally recommend doing squats two to three times a week with 36 to 48 hours of rest for that muscle group," she says. "When you work out you create micro tears in your muscle tissue, and they need time to rebuild after a workout."
In addition to working your glutes, you want to focus on building stronger hip flexors, too. These opposing muscles are important for hip opening and preventing muscle imbalances. "Doing frogger stretches, banded abductions, and lunges can help target the hip flexors and make them stronger," Rodriguez says.
If you're wondering how many reps of squats you should aim for in a workout, Rodriguez says 10 to 15 reps for three to four rounds is ideal. "You want to focus on volume instead of adding load. This gets you into the hypertrophic range to encourage muscle growth," Rodriguez says.
What is proper squat form?
The number one rule in achieving a proper squat with perfect form is actually engaging your core. "Keeping your core engaged helps easily prevent avoidable injuries, like lower-back strain. Maintaining a straight back and keeping your gaze forward can help with this," Kemp says. Here are some other form tips to keep in mind as you're doing squats:
A strong squat starts with a solid hip hinge. This ensures you're leading with your hips and not your knees. A common mistake many people make is pulling the hips forward and tilting the pelvis back. "It's like tucking your tailbone under you instead of pushing it back as you descend into the squat," Blades says. To correct this, Rodriquez recommends sitting back into your heels and pointing your knees out toward your pinky toes.
Your feet should be hip-distance apart with your hands at your sides or in front of you. As you lower your butt down toward the ground, keep your feet firmly planted. Sitting back into your heels and pushing your butt back and down will also help you activate your quads and tighten your glutes. Tightening your glutes helps to stabilize the hips, giving you momentum to stand back up in one fluid movement.
Your thighs also play an essential role in achieving proper squat form because they support your hip flexors and glutes. As you lower your hips back and down, your thighs should be parallel to the floor, forming a right angle. Engaging your thighs also helps you avoid caving your knees and ankles inward. "Make sure your knees are in line with your ankles and that you can see your toes. Your calves should also be at a 90-degree angle—move as though you are sitting down on a low chair," says Kemp. Blades likes to imagine that she's in a tight box and is trying to press her knees against the sides of it. This will give you a strong foundation to squat even lower and improve your range of motion.
Throughout the entire movement, your chest should be lifted. Slouching over will put more pressure on your lower body and cause low-back pain. A good frame of reference is to lean forward at 45 degrees, so when you're looking at a mirror, your torso forms an angle with your thighs. Pro tip from Kemp: "If you are bending the spine you aren't working the abdominals. Keep the spine straight and the abs engaged. It might help to look forward rather than down at the floor."
How low should I squat?
The answer is it varies for everyone. A good frame of reference is to go as low as you can while maintaining good form. If you notice your form breaking down after a certain point, then don't push it. Ideally, you want to go down to 90 degrees or a little lower, Rodriguez says. "Once you're at the bottom, drive through with your heels. I sometimes like to lift the front toes out a little because it helps me focus on pushing my heels," she explains.
What are some advanced squat moves?
Squats in itself are pretty challenging, so you don't need to try very hard to make them more intense. Blades recommends adding plyometrics, like doing squats jumps, squat jacks, or box jumps. Simply changing your stance by widening your toes out for a sumo squat also targets your inner thighs. You can play with different ranges of motion, too. Rodriguez says she likes to add pulses at the bottom of a squat before standing back up, while Blades is all about dumbbell squat thrusters and exploding up to press the weights overhead. Lastly, using different types of resistance, whether it's kettlebells, dumbbells, or resistance bands, gives your body a new challenge.
This article originally appeared on Prevention US.