The Best Butt Exercises for Knee Pain—No Squats or Lunges Included

By Maire,

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Let me tell you a secret: Squats and lunges are not the magic ingredients for getting a better butt. Yes, they’re both *great* lower-body exercises that recruit tons of muscles, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of boosting your glutes. That’s great news if you have knee pain, because you can do all these booty-blasting moves without worrying about bugging your knees. (Must-read: 4 Reasons Why You Have Pain Behind Your Knee)

How it works: Do each move for the number of reps indicated and then repeat the circuit two to three times.

Butt Burner Toe Tap

A. Stand with feet together and sit back into a quarter squat.
B. Shift weight into left foot and tap the right foot backward, then back to center, then out to the side, then back to center, while keeping left leg bent and pumping arms as if running.

Do 16 to 20 reps per side.

Side Toe Tap

A. Stand with feet together and sit back into a quarter squat.
B. Staying in squat position, shift weight into left foot and tap the right foot out to the side, opening arms up to the side.
C. Tap the right foot back to center, lowering arms. Continue quickly tapping in and out.

Do 20 to 25 reps per side.

Single-Leg Deadlift

A. Stand with feet together, dumbbells in hands by sides. Shift weight into right foot, balancing on left toe.
B. Hinge forward at the hip, lifting straight left leg backward and reaching dumbbells toward right foot.
C. Keeping core tight, engage right glute to raise torso and return to starting position.
D. For a challenge, after doing 16 reps, hold the extended position (left foot lifted and torso parallel to the ground) and add a dumbbell row, drawing dumbbells up next to ribs, elbows in tight. Do 8 reps.

Do 16 reps per side. 

Arabesque Pulse

A. Stand on the right leg, with left toes extended slightly backward to balance. Extend right arm straight overhead and left arm out to the side at shoulder height.
B. Maintaining the upper body position, lift back left leg and pulse up and down without touching toes to the floor.

Do 20 to 25 reps per side.  

Kneeling Back Kick

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee off the floor and kick diagonally backward and up, pressing heel toward the top back corner of the room.
C. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground and repeat.

Do 25 reps per side.

Kneeling Combo

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee off the floor and kick diagonally backward and up, pressing heel toward the top back corner of the room.
C. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground, then lift knee out to the side, maintaining 90-degree bend.
D. Return knee to starting position without touching it to the ground.

Do 16 reps per side. 

Kneeling Roundhouse

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B. Lift right knee out to the side, then extend leg to kick, leg parallel to the ground with knee pointing forward.
C. Reverse motion to return to starting position and repeat.

Do 16 reps per side. 

Straight-Leg Pulse

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B.  Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Pulse right leg up and down.

Do 16 reps per side. 

Kneeling Bird-Dog Balance

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B.  Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Extend left arm forward.

Hold for 15 seconds per side.

Leg Lift Hold

A. Start in tabletop position, on all fours with hips over knees and shoulders over wrists, core engaged.
B.  Lift and straighten right leg backward, knee pointing down. Lift right leg as high as possible, and bend elbows to lower chest to the floor.

Hold for 15 seconds per side. 

Shoulder Bridge

A. Lie faceup on the ground with feet planted and knees pointing up.
B. Engage core and tuck pelvis, then push into feet to press hips off the ground.
C. Pulse hips up and down, squeezing glutes at the top.

Do 20 reps.

 Single-Leg Shoulder Bridge

A. Lie faceup on the ground with feet planted and knees pointing up.
B. Engage core and tuck pelvis, then push into feet to press hips off the ground. Lift the right leg straight into the air over hips.
C. Maintaining this position, pulse hips up and down.

Do 15 to 20 reps per side. 

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