The Best Butt-Sculpting Exercise You're NOT Doing | Men's Health Magazine Australia

The Best Butt-Sculpting Exercise You’re NOT Doing | Men’s Health Magazine Australia

The back extension might be the biggest misnomer in fitness. The name implies that it should work your back and that’s what most gym-goers try to target when using this piece of equipment. The focus is on hyperextending the lower back (the equipment is actually called a 45-degree hyperextension) at the top of each rep to primarily strengthen the spinal erectors.


Sure this can be helpful for top-level powerlifters, but the last thing the average Joe and Jane need is to work on hyperextending their lower backs. Rather, the goal should be to minimise movement at the lower back and maximise movement at the hip. In other words, the goal is actually hip extension and that’s probably what the exercise should be called.

Credit goes to top biomechanics researcher Bret “The Glute Guy” Contreras for popularising this new approach to the “back extension.” Bret calls this the rounded-back 45-degree hyper (short for hyperextension) and because the focus is now on pure hip extension, this becomes arguably the best butt exercise you’ve never done.

The key is to use the following pair of technique tweaks to make you feel it in the butt (you’re welcome) and not your back:

1. Turn your feet out 45-degrees

This tweak in foot position winds the hips up into external rotation which makes the glutes work harder. It’s also harder for your hamstrings to assist with this setup, leaving your glutes isolated, lonely, and distraught. It’s kind of like Cabin Fever for your booty. Sure, you can also do this with your feet pointed straight ahead, but if you do, be sure to follow the next tip!

2. Round your upper back

At first glance, you’re probably thinking “you’re never supposed to round your spine!” In most cases, that’s correct. But we’re only rounding the thoracic spine (or mid-back) and this allows you to create a posterior pelvic tilt that limits the movement at the lower back and maximizes the motion at the hips. It is important to note that the range of motion seems to be shorter with this technique, though you’ll get way more glute activation than with the traditional approach.

Bret says to “imagine there’s a pin through your hips and you’re just swiveling through that pin and pressing your hips hard into the pad.”

Your goal is to be able to do three sets of 30 reps with just yourbodyweight with only 45 seconds between sets. It sounds a lot easier than it is. Trust me, I’ve tried it and the glute pump is just precious.

On a personal note, this has quickly become one of my go-to glute exercises. I do higher reps with body weight and lower reps with dumbbells, weight plates, or a weight vest. I’ve even added band tension by hooking the band to the bottom of the unit and around my neck, allowing for peak tension at the the top of the movement with full hip extension. The options are endless and I truly believe this should be a staple of your glute training.

Give it a try and remember- it’s all about the glutes!

This article was originally published on

More From