We’ve all been blessed with different body types. And when it comes to the booty, most of us are on a quest to accomplish one of two things: add more junk in the trunk or trim down that tush.

Besides the aesthetics of a toned and lifted derriere – and regardless of the backside “look” you are going for – properly functioning glutes are necessary for the safe and proper performance of many daily activities, including walking, running, lifting and squatting.

Unfortunately, the gluteal muscle group has a tendency to get lazy and go on vacation, frequently forcing other muscles to take over (namely your hamstrings and low back muscles). This can eventually lead to pain and possible injury. More reason to get those glutes in gear!

Studies show that most people achieve greater gluteal contraction during body weight exercises (as opposed to squatting or deadlifting heavy weights), so try these three exercises that – when performed properly – will result in proper activation of your glutes…and are sure to have you feeling the burn.

  1. Bridges – Forget about how much weight you can lift, let’s get back to the basics. Bridges are a great, simple exercise to really target gluteal activation.
  • Lie on your back with knees bent and heels close to your bottom.
  • Roll the hips up off the ground, trying to avoid any extension in the spine. Pressing the arms down into the ground will help engage your lats, which will also engage your gluteal muscles.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat for several minutes. To add a challenge, try a single leg variation.
  1. Quadruped Hip Extension – You will often see these exercises (also called donkey kicks) performed in the gym improperly, causing the low back muscles to overcompensate for the glutes. Try this variation to ensure proper execution.
  • Get on your hands and knees. Drop down onto your elbows.
  • Sit back on your heels until your bottom is about six inches away from your heels (to take up the slack in the low back).
  • Reach one leg behind you and place it on top of a block so it is almost in line with your hip.
  • Pull the belly up and in, lifting the leg off the block without shifting to the stance leg side.
  • Make sure to keep breathing throughout each repetition.
  • Perform 15-20 repetitions on each side.
  1. Single Leg Stance Kettlebell Slingshot -Believe it or not, the kettlebell is one of the premiere booty-strengthening items in your gym, particularly because it is perfectly suited to build gluteal strength efficiently.
  • Stand on one leg with a kettlebell in the ipsilateral (same side) hand.
  • Balance on one foot as you pass the kettlebell in front of your body to the other hand, balancing for several seconds.
  • Then pass the kettlebell behind the body, back to the other hand. Try and maintain balance when transferring the kettlebell from one side to the other, keeping foot/ankle stability and a straight leg.
  • Repeat for 2-3 minutes on each leg.

Any of the above exercises can be done at the gym, in your home or even during a break from sitting at your desk. All that matters is that you do it, especially if you are looking to give your backside a facelift.