While searching for some funny things to post on my social media channels, I came across this awesome holiday card. It inspired me to share some tips to help you with a new rear and to make our January workout challenge at Iron Clad all about the glutes.

Strong glutes not only look great, but they can help protect against back pain. So there’s a couple of great incentives to work on that butt!

Of course, things like kettlebell swings, deadlifts, squats and lunges will help you get that new rear. I prefer to use heavier weights to build muscle and strength in the glutes.

But perhaps your glutes don’t engage as much as they could. Sometimes tight hip flexors are the culprit. Here’s a great video to help open the hips, from one of my kettlebell and flexibility mentors, Master RKC Keira Newton.

After you’ve worked on some flexibility, there’s a few isolation exercises you can try at home to help strengthen the glutes and help get that butt engaging more tightly during your kettlebell training or other lifting. Check out my video below the explanations to see how these are done.

I think the glute bridge is one of the go-to exercises to target the butt. It can also help you stretch your hip flexors a bit. Make sure to really tuck your pelvis before lifting. If you’re feeling the bridge mostly in your hamstrings, try playing around with your foot position a little bit to get the butt more involved. I personally have to bring my feet just a little closer to my butt. You can also give yourself a little tough love by punching yourself in the butt to help those glutes engage. You’ll feel whether you’re holding nice and tight!

Then try squeezing a towel or a small ball between your knees to get more engagement. From there, you can progress to lift the toes off the floor and then take it to a 1 leg bridge. I recommend holding the bridge as tightly as you can for 10 seconds, then release down to the floor. Repeat 10 times. Build up to holding the bridge either longer or tighter.

I learned this next one from a physical therapist. It’s a slight posterior leg lift, just enough to get the butt to engage. Again with this one, you want to make sure that your hamstring isn’t doing all the work. Sometimes I will reach back and put my hand on my hamstring to make sure it’s not getting in the game too much. All this touching may seem a little silly, but the tactile sensation can really help.

As with the glute bridge, I recommend holding this one for 10 seconds at a time and repeat for 10 reps. Then switch legs. You can also alternate sides each rep. This isn’t about how high you can lift your leg, it’s about making sure that your glute is engaged when you do. If you feel your lumbar spine, then you’re lifting too high.

The last one is what I call the frog leg lift. I learned this one when I was assisting Master RKC Andrea Du Cane at a local HKC certification workshop. This one is harder than it looks! Like the single leg lift above, the purpose is to lift your legs only as high as you need to in order to engage the butt very tightly. Also like the single leg version, if you feel it in your lumbar spine, then you’re lifting too high. For this drill, hold for just a second or two with full glute engagement then lower and repeat for 10 – 15 reps.