Your gluteus maximus is the primary muscle worked during lunges.
Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
Women looking to focus on toning up their buttocks can see significant results with consistent weight training. The largest and major muscle in the buttocks is your gluteus maximus, which extends your hips and lifts your legs back behind you. Incorporate two buttocks workouts into your weekly regimen, performing three sets of eight to 12 reps each. Always warm up with light cardio and dynamic stretches before each workout.
You'll need a plyo box or sturdy bench to perform step-ups, which are among the best for targeting your glutes. Stand facing a box that's about 15 inches tall. Place your left foot completely atop the box and then drive off that leg to lift your entire body atop the box. Lower your right foot back to the floor to complete the rep and repeat, performing all reps on your left leg before switching to your right leg. You can also incorporate lateral step-ups, which involve standing to the side of the box and lifting your leg up and sideways to place it onto the box. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands to increase the intensity of the exercise.
Using Squats and Deadlifts
With a pair of dumbbells, you can target the buttocks with squats and deadlifts. Both exercises involve standing with your feet hip-width apart with toes pointed straight ahead. For squats, hold the dumbbells down by your sides. Push your hips back and bend your knees so that your hips lower toward the floor. Keep going until your thighs are parallel to the floor and then straighten up to complete the rep. For deadlifts, hold the dumbbells down in front of your thighs. To target the glutes more, keep your knees primarily straight as you push your hips back and bend forward at the waist, lowering the dumbbells to your feet. Once your back is parallel to the floor, straighten back up to complete the rep.
Lunges primarily target your glutes and can either be completed with your body weight or while holding a pair of dumbbells. Step forward with your right foot and then drop your left knee toward the floor by bending both knees. Keep your torso erect. Extend your knees to come back up and then return your right foot back so that it's square with your left again. Switch legs with each rep.
Training on a Mat
With an exercise mat, you can effectively target your gluteus maximus by performing quadruped hip extensions and glute bridge. A 2005 study published by the American Council on Exercise found that quadruped hip extensions were the most effective for recruiting and activating the gluteus maximus. Get on your hands and knees so that your torso is parallel to the floor. Keeping the knee bent to 90 degrees, lift one leg up until the pad of your foot is facing upward and your thigh is lined up with your torso. Lower the leg back to the floor. Complete all reps on one leg and then switch legs. For glute bridge, lie on your back on the mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pick your hips up off the floor as high as you can and then lower them back to the mat. Hold a barbell or weighted plate atop your hips to increase exercise intensity.