You already do Squats, Deadlifts and Hip Thrusts, but if you are a serious athlete—or just want a nice-looking butt—you need to do single-leg exercises.
Why? When you train on one leg, your gluteus medius gets into the action in addition to your larger gluteus maximums.
The smaller of the two muscles in your butt plays a big role in knee stability and proper hip mechanics. When you change direction, the gluteus medius gets to work. Athletes (except runners) naturally change direction all the time, so they should want this muscle to be as strong as possible.
(And having a stronger glute medius makes your butt look better. Who doesn’t want that?)
Two unconventional single-leg exercises that my athletes use on a daily basis are Hip Airplanes and Touchdowns. They’re both great options because they are:
Practical. To do them, you don’t need any equipment—just your body weight.
Functional. They also recruit your core and can help improve your postural control.
Helpful in preventing injury. Activating your glutes before workouts reduces injury risk by getting those big, strong muscles ready for your training. It also increase your strength and power.
Stand on your left leg with a slightly bent knee. Lean forward at a 45-degree angle and place your hands on your hips.
Rotate your torso to the right as far as your range of motion allows. Keep your left (standing) knee in line with your ankle and hip. Don’t allow your knee to collapse inwards.
Rotate to the starting position so your torso is parallel to the ground. and repeat. Perform a set with your opposite leg.
Stand on your left leg with a slightly bent knee. Place your left hand on your hip.
Sit your hips back, bend your left knee and touch your left foot with your right hand.
Straighten your hips and knee to stand up and return to the starting position. Perform a set with your opposite leg.
You can perform these exercises as part of your dynamic warm-up, doing 2 sets of 10-15 reps. For a serious glute burn, do them as a workout finisher by performing 1-2 sets for as many reps as possible.