The late Vince Gironda, a legend in bodybuilding circles, had some eccentric opinions. It's said that his gym in Studio City, California was devoid of free weight squat racks because he believed squatting exercises only created "turnip thighs" and a big butt. Well, what on earth is wrong with thighs that are big near the top (as long as it's muscular size) and a booty that has a protruding contour? These are muscles as deserving of respect and attention as any other. And in the case of the gluteus maximus; it possesses the potential to carry more power and size than any other muscle in the body.
Building a nice butt often requires more than isolation exercises such as the one above.
Sometimes it appeared that Mr. Gironda's assertion was that only men shouldn't build their butts. This seems like a sexist opinion. Given that surveys of women have repeatedly revealed that they look at the male posterior as much as vice versa, it'd be natural to assume that inspiring a woman to improve her rear contour might be best accomplished by her male counterpart improving his. Yet I think most women are aware of their derrières and want to make them more appealing. For this reason, the motivation through inspiration might need to go in the other direction. Regardless, building a better butt is best done with the same process (whether you're male or female), despite what some would have you believe with their recommendations.
The number one body shaping principle to keep in mind for improving your butt is to realize that "shaping" or "firming" the area actually requires some muscle building. Adopting the widespread notion that you can noticeably change your glutes without adding some muscle to them will likely lead to unsatisfying results and disillusionment. Muscles don't really improve in shape or become harder without adding new muscle tissue. If you lose three pounds of fat from this region and don't simultaneously gain three pounds of muscle, you'll have a net loss in glute size and it's unlikely that you'll have a nicer butt. This seems especially likely given the fact that muscle weighs more than fat, thereby resulting in less visual mass created by three pounds of muscle than three pounds of fat. Of course, the muscle will likely be more visually appealing than even a third of that fat, but that's venturing in to subjective opinion.
What we want are some objectively reliable methods for steadily building the glutes. The two most effective exercises I know of for accomplishing this are deep squats and stiff-legged dead-lifts. These two movements will build size and shape in your glutes faster and more impressively than doing endless lunges across a gym floor. Yet the performance of lunges is ubiquitous among women while squat racks and stiff-legged dead-lift platforms often appear abandoned by the same. Actually, they seem abandoned by men also. This could be due to the fact that working the glutes within a lower body workout can be an arduous endeavor.
One incredibly effective machine for performing glute-bulging, deep squats while easily maintaining safety is the squat machine by BodyMaster. It has a forty-five degree angled platform to stand on while supporting the weight with arched shoulder pads. When facing inward (toward the weight) on this machine, you can perform what people refer to as a "power squat". With your feet placed as far back on the platform as they safely can be and shoulder width apart, squat downward until your butt touches the back of your heels. This will require that you stick your butt outward as you descend to the deepest part of the squat in order that you don't strain your lower back. It's this hip-protruding posture from the deepest squatting position to the halfway point on your way back up where the gluteus muscles get their best workout.
Stiff-legged dead-lifts might seem counter-intuitive. Society tells us to bend at the knees when we pick up something heavy. But that instruction assumes that our only alternative is to lift from the lower back – which is NOT where you should lift from while doing this exercise. Bodybuilders know that there is also the option of lifting primarily from the hamstring and glute muscles when picking something up without the use of the quadriceps. Moreover, if you keep your mind focused on your gluteus muscles while lifting the weight, you'll be performing an exercise that is second-to-none for building a strong and incredibly shapely butt.
When performing stiff-legged dead-lifts, it's best be on a platform specifically designed for the exercise. This platform provides a rack for the weight bar at about hip level. It's also narrower than the width of the bar so as to allow the plates on the bar to drop lower than the platform you're standing on when you're at the bottom of the movement. Make sure you keep your feet just slightly wider than shoulder width (for better glute involvement), and bend very slightly at the knees. Holding the bar with your hands at shoulder width, lower the weight by bending at the hips until the bar touches the top of your feet near your lower shins. Then, keeping the back stiff and slightly arched, bring your body back up to nearly upright while pulling from your glute muscles. Be sure to keep the bar up against your body throughout the movement to help prevent using your back.
NEVER attempt these exercises if you have a back injury and always consult your physician before beginning a routine involving these exercises or any other training regimen for that matter.
That said, here is the best four-exercise routine I'd recommend for building the butt:
1. Deep Squats (BodyMaster machine): (4-7 sets of 6 reps)
2. Stiff-legged dead-lifts: (4-7 sets of 6 reps)
3. Leg curls (4-7 sets of 6 reps)
4. Lunges (4 sets of 6 reps)
Yes, I recommend lunges too. However, I suggest doing them at the end of the routine when the glutes have been pre-exhausted by the previous exercises. Also, I recommend that you do them one leg at a time rather than alternating between legs by walking them across the gym floor.
Perform this routine no more than once per week and less often as you progress in development. These exercises, in this sequence, are the surest way I know of for creating an eye-catching… uh… derrière.