When you start focusing on bigger booty workouts, you begin to look at the gym with new eyes. Whereas before you’d be looking at aesthetics or cardio machines or even the view, now all you want to know is: how many butt exercise machines does the gym have? And how good are they?
Well, to help you assess exactly which glute machines are worth your time and effort -- and which to skip -- here’s a short but thorough guide to the best butt exercise machines you’ll find at the gym.
I squat so why do I need a butt exercise machine?
By now, if you want a bigger butt, you’ve likely come to the conclusion that you need to squat.
Squats are a great way to start building up your glutes and creating a strong, balanced physique but they’re not the only tool in your arsenal. Squats are not all you need: as with building any muscle group, a variety of movements is going to give you the extra edge.
Plus, adding some variety to your routine will also provide you with the motivation and enjoyment that comes with changing up your gym routine.
Any large gym will provide a wide variety of weighted machines, targeting all the muscle groups you can think of. Despite the fact that barbell and bodyweight workouts might win the gym popularity contest right now, the below butt exercise machines are also worth considering for the accessory exercises that will develop a strong, sexy butt.
The reason weighted machines can be so useful is their unrivaled ability to target precise muscle groups -- which is exactly what you need when you’re trying to bulk up your butt.
Sure, your routine should include a balance of free weights and bodyweight movements, but these are ‘compound’ movements that target many muscles in combination. That’s why we also recommend focusing on glute machine exercises that tend to be ‘isolation’ movements in order target the function of a single muscle. This is great for when you really want to focus on certain parts of the body, like the booty.
With this in mind, here’s our list of the best gym machines for glutes -- and how to implement them into your workout routine!
The Leg Press Machine
Of all the best gym machines for glutes, none have been so unfairly criticized as the leg press, which has been whispered about as being inferior to squats. We’re inclined to agree in some contexts, but this machine is versatile and can be used to great effect – especially if you’ve had some back pain or soreness.
While the leg press doesn’t involve the core strength, stability or balance that a technically-correct back squat develops, it presents some great movement potential. For example, the single-legged leg press is a fantastic way of developing single-leg strength, proper movement patterns and developing glutes that are both shapely and functional.
Here’s one way that you can use it to specifically target your glutes:
And yet another variation that lets you target your side booty:
The leg press is also an amazing tool for beginners or those with injuries. The lack of demand on the stabilizing muscles and core/spine might be exactly what you’re looking for. The fixed pattern and safety mechanisms of the leg press reduce your chance of injury if you perform the movement properly.
This also means a greater potential to work yourself to total failure: something that the squat isn’t very good for. While you might fail a squat because your stabilizers or posture start breaking down (like a rounded back, knees collapsing in or cutting depth), you can keep going on the leg press until your butt and quads are feeling a real burn. In this case, the muscles you are working to isolate are the quads, hamstrings and glutes.
The Smith Machine
If you want a bigger, firmer rear end, the smith machine is an excellent place to spend time.
Smith machines feature a barbell fixed on vertical rails with adjustable safety bars. The smith machine offers beginners more support and stability they find in free weight squats.
While it is important to develop stability and balance, the smith machine offers a great way to perform movements like hack squats, split squats or cyclist squats.
If you’re on your way to grow your booty with the help of a smith machine, make sure you get a barbell neck pad for your neck and shoulders. We like this Shut Up and Squat one 😉
The Abductor Machine
You know that perky, rounded butt that everyone is after? To achieve that look, one of the best exercise machines is the abductor machine. The abductors are the group of muscles located around your glutes, on the outside of your thighs, that spread your legs and help push your hips forwards. They have a key role in lower back stability and healthy, attractive posture.
They’re also the muscles that are going to round out your upper booty -- which is what makes the abductor machine the best exercise machine for buttocks lift and shaping.
Again: the benefits of regularly including thigh abduction in your workout routine is the unique ability to add roundness to your butt. No other exercise or movement requires you to be seated and spreading your legs against load. Meaning this is the only machine that can really isolate these muscles.
The Hip Extension Machine
Hip extension is the ‘opening’ of the hip joint, pushing the hips forward relative to the thigh. This is one of the key roles of the glutes and hamstrings, which make up the majority of the butt and a large portion of the leg. Hip extension is the focus of any program aiming to develop the glutes: deadlifts, squats, lunges, hip thrusts – all the best butt exercises involve hip extension.
The hip extension machine allows you to train this movement directly and build serious strength and shape in the glutes. This is readily-transferable to many other everyday movements: standing, walking, running and rolling, as well as weight training such as squats, deadlifts and other lower-body movements.
There should be more than one type of hip extension machine at your gym and if there isn’t -- well, there are plenty of ways to get creative. For example, if your gym has a cable crossover, you can simply get an ankle strap to use with it.
You can even do the exercise at home using just a resistance band, like shown here:
The Lying Leg Curl Machine
Leg curl machines are available in most gyms, and some offer multiple types. The muscle group that leg curls work are hamstrings: a group of three muscles at the back of your legs. Because the hamstrings originate at the backside of your pelvis, they play a key role in the strength and health of the glutes.
So how can you increase the butt involvement during your leg curls? Arguably, the lying leg curl will be more effective when it comes to growing your butt: by keeping hips open during the movement and focusing on squeezing at the end, you will develop a balanced glute-hamstring connection and avoid silly injuries.
If you’re looking to add extra stability (and do the workout at home), you can perform this exercise using an exercise ball, like here:
Yet another creative option to use if your gym only has the sitting leg curl machines is to transform into an awesome glute exercise machine by using it for kickbacks, like this:
The Glute-Ham Developer Machine (The GHD)
And last but not least, we have the GHD which is one of the best glute machines that nobody really ever sees anymore.
Despite the fact it’s one of the most effective butt exercise machines, it’s become a rarity in many commercial gyms. The good news is that they are increasingly common in CrossFit boxes and they’re also not too expensive, as far as home gym machines go, so you’ll be able to get one for yourself if you find that it’s a workout you’d like to do again and again.
Maybe the issue with the GHD machine is that it resembles a medieval torture device -- or maybe it’s simply the fact that not many people have the knowledge or confidence to use it correctly. Be sure to keep the glutes contracted throughout this movement by driving them into the pad and pausing at the top of the movement, focusing on the squeeze.
GHD raises are an incredible exercise to increase muscle mass and strengthen your back, glutes and hamstrings. This exercise can be a valuable tool for preventing injury -- particularly hamstring strains, back injuries and ACL tears.
Cardio Machines for your Butt?
You might not have thought about them, but the best cardio machines to develop the shape of your butt will require you to move and engaged your thighs and hips.
The Stair Stepper
Stair climbers and step-mills are cardio machines that simulate the action of climbing stairs. This is an effective movement when it comes to developing your butt.
This exercise can be tough for extended periods of time, but the machines can easily be adjusted for speed so that you are able to remain comfortable. Aim for higher resistance, rather than speed.
The elliptical core-trainer machine works several muscle groups at once, including the essentials for booty-building: your hips and thighs. The machine will also engage your upper body and has less impact on the joints than a treadmill.
You probably never thought the rowing machine was a good idea for your butt, but if you’re a beginner struggling with the difficulty of other movements, a high-resistance row can really burn in the buttocks.
Keep the stroke long and think about pushing with the legs and extending the hip with a strong clench. You’ll do more than just shred down!