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Do Squats Make Your Butt Bigger? [The Science Explained]

Is it just me, or does it feel like the new flat stomach is a big butt? Everyone used to starve themselves (I guess some still do) to achieve a 6 pack or a flat stomach. Now we have people out here obsessing over getting a big booty. And while I am all for it, let’s also remember that we need a strong butt for several daily activities, not just to look good in a pair of jeans. The internet is flooded with booty band workouts, and “under butt” blasting exercises, most of which just look stupid and are a waste of time. So let’s chat about how to actually build a booty, and finally answer the question – do squats make your but bigger?

What muscles do squats work?

We can assume that squatting is going to work the glute muscles, this is a fact. But there are a lot of other muscles that are recruited during this movement.

Squats are a compound movement, and one of the primary functional movements. Why? Because we do it all the time. Sitting in a chair, bending to pick up your kid,  grabbing the newspaper, something on the bottom shelf at the store. we are always squatting down in our day to day life. It is a primary movement for us.

A compound movement is defined as “a multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time.” This means both the knee, hip and ankle joint are all moving during a squat (or at least a correct one).

With it being a compound movement, there are several ways we can perform a squat. We can do air squats, back squats, front squats, suit case squats, single leg squats etc. And with each variation comes the change in which muscles are recruited. For the sake of explanation and keeping it simple, let’s just chat through the air squat for now.

The primary muscles recruited during a bodyweight squat are the quadriceps (front of the leg), the gluteus maximus (large glute muscle) and the adductors (inner thigh). The secondary muscles that are recruited/worked in a squat are the lower back muscles, core, calves and hamstrings.

So many muscles are being used for this one movement, which is why it is so beneficial for your body. You get the most bang for your buck, and that is really what we are after with exercise, right?

diagram of what muscles squats work

How many squats should you do?

There is no “perfect number” that you should do to achieve solid glutes. That jut isn’t how it works. Everyones body is different, it responds differently to a stimuli, and it depends on what the rest of your training looks like.

Training and lifting is not a one size fits all. You are going to need different weights than me, maybe a different variation, etc. Not to mention, you will be stronger in some areas and weaker in others. It all depends on the person.

If you are looking to achieve a certain goal, there is a general rule of thumb for training. Strength training (meaning training to be as strong as you can) is usually done in the 2-5 rep range. Meaning your weights are heavy, and your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) likely leaves about 2 reps in the tank. If you are training for hypertrophy (size) then working rep range is usually 6-12. So weights will be a bit lighter, but you still want to follow the RPE rule of 2 reps left in the tank.

how many squats should you do

In order to see the results you want, you have to push yourself to that limit. So don’t assume you just need to do 3 sets f 10 squats daily. You need to decide o your goal, create the program and then follow through pushing yourself. Change doesn’t happen when things are easy, it happens when we push ourselves past being comfortable.

Air Squats vs Weighted Squats

I think there is a time and place for both air squats and weighted squats. If we are talking in terms of growing your booty, then you need weighted squats. But if we are talking in terms of just general exercise when we don’t have equipment handy, then air squats are it.

Growing your glutes is more than just doing squats and kickbacks and using booty bands. Growing your glutes comes from…moving heavy weights and eating enough calories.

You cannot build muscle tissue (grow your booty) without having enough calories in your system to do so. This means you need to be eating more than you are burning in a day. A hard pill to swallow, I know, but it really is the only way.

Check out this blog if you want to calculate your macros for muscle growth, so you can build the butt you want.

Now – when it comes to lifting heavy and programming for glute growth, you need to prioritize progressive overload. This means adding a gradual increase in stress placed upon the muscle and nervous system to elicit change.

Progressive overload can be created by increased reps, increased weight, slower tempo, less rest etc. There are a lot of different variables you can adjust to create more intensity in the movement, which is what you want if you are looking to grow your glutes.

So, moral of the story, lift heavy weights and don’t be afraid to. The glutes do best under pressure and intensity, so turn up the heat.

Do squats make your hips thicker?

Women tend to assume that lifting weights make you “bulky”. That if you lift too heavy you are going to start looking like one of the boys. But honestly, is that a bad thing?

Anyways, that isn’t typically the case. A lot of it comes down to genetics and how easily you can put on muscle tissue, but more likely than not you will have a hard time putting on that muscle muscle to look bulky.

What happens when we lift weights is we actually can become more slim. This is because muscle is more dense than fat, meaning it weighs the same, but has a smaller surface area. So if you are looking to be toned, then you need to work towards adding muscle to your frame.

“Thick” hips is likely going to come from a surplus in calories. So eating more food than you burn is going to increase your bodyweight, but we cant determine where it is going to go. For women, usually, it heads for the hips and thighs. But these results don’t have to be permanent.

You can spend time eating food and lifting heavy, and then spend time in a deficit to help peel back that extra fat accumulated during the building phase. To say that your hips will get “thick” feels like we are concerned about the waist. So yes, if you are looking to grow your glutes and increase food, some of it is going to store around the mid section and hips.

But if you are just asking if squats in general, without extra food, make your hips thicker..then no, they will not.

Do Squats make your thighs bigger?

We made the determination above that squats are going to mainly recruit the quadriceps and hamstrings during the exercise, as well as the glutes. I see this as a perk because you can do one movement, yet build several different lower body muscles.

So, a side effect of squatting is going to be muscle growth (if you are lifting weights heavy enough) and that is going to also include the thighs. Now, this doesn’t mean your thighs are going to get bigger because of fat, they are going to get bigger because of the increase in muscle (this is good).

And we know that if we spend time eating more calories than we burn to get strong, we can then turn around and spend time in a deficit and lose some of the fat gained during that time.

So while squats do target all of the leg muscles, your thighs will get bigger if you are lifting with heavy weights and progressive overload.

If you are just doing bodyweight squats, or squats with weights that aren’t heavy enough to put that much of a stimulus on them, then it is unlikely that your thighs are going to get bigger.

Other exercises to work your butt

There are several other different exercise you can do to help work your butt and build strong glutes. Like I said above, this does not have to include anything with a booty band, and instead has to do with using heavy weights.

Other exercises that you can do to work your glutes include:

• Hip thrusts (the queen for glute growth)

• Glute bridges


• Deadlifts

• Step ups

• Lunges

All compound movements that are going to work more than one muscle group, and are big muscles in a sense that they can handle a decent amount of weight. Make sure you include a few of these exercises in your training if you are looking to grow your glutes. There is more than just squats, and you need to work a variety of muscle groups for best results.


Conclusion: Do squats make your butt bigger?

So yes – squats can make your butt bigger. You can make it bigger, stronger, rounder etc through exercise and proper programming. If you are looking for glute growth, make sure you are in a program that is prioritizing progressive overload.

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author: Haley Perry