Strong legs and glutes shape your entire figure. This is partly because your lower body is made up of the largest muscle groups, which means you’ll burn more calories and sweat more quickly when you exercise your lower body. In addition to that, you can build a more proportional figure when you build muscle in your butt and hips! 

The hourglass shape coveted by many women comes from the ratio of the bust, waist, and hips. With this body shape, the bust and hips will typically be the same size, or within a few inches of the same size, while the waist is about 25% smaller than the bust and hips.   

Now, obviously we can’t change the bone structure we’re born with, but we can trick the eye into seeing the hourglass shape. As we mentioned in our post on How to Build the Illusion of Broad Shoulders, we believe healthy bodies are the best bodies! However, many women strive to achieve the hourglass ratio. If this is your goal, we’re sharing how you can create the illusion of curvy hips even if you weren’t born with them. 

Workouts That Sculpt Some Serious Curves

If you read our Broad Shoulders article, you will have learned that building specific upper body muscles will help give the illusion of a larger frame. The opposite is true for a woman’s body; accentuating the hips is the primary target! Building strong glutes gives you a natural butt lift and the toned curves can make your waist look smaller. Not to mention, all the new muscle is certainly no illusion, which means you’ll also be training for strength with these exercises. 

Our Pro Results® Trainer, Kayla V., specifies these 5 exercises for stronger hips and glutes:

Hip Thrusters/Bridges

The hip bridge activates your glutes and is one of the easiest moves to start with. You start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Without letting your hips rock or sway with the movement, raise your hips up and lower them back down. Squeeze your glutes at the top of each move. When you’re ready, you can add weights by holding dumbbells or a barbell across your hips.

Abductor and Adductor Workout

Abductor muscles are the ones that help you push outwards while the adductors help you pull inwards. When using a machine that targets your inner thighs, you’re using an adductor machine. A machine that works the outside of the thighs and hips is an abductor machine. 

The equipment itself is pretty simple. You just sit down, position your legs on the inside or the outside of the pads (depending on which muscle group you want to work on) and slowly open and close your knees.

Kettle Bell Swings

Despite how it may look, this one is not an arm workout. The movement of the weight comes from the power in your hips. Always start with a light weight when trying out new exercises until you get the hang of it.  

Hold the kettle bell while standing tall and with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your knees will naturally bend as you prepare to swing the weight upwards, but you’ll also want to intentionally squat to aid your momentum. Keep your body weight over your heels and use your hips to send the weight swinging upwards to eye level. Allow the kettlebell to come back down to the starting position between your legs. 

Weighted Squats

Weighted squats can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or an assisted squat machine. You can also choose to carry a medicine ball or kettle bell. Before doing a weighted squat, make sure you can execute bodyweight squats with perfect form.  

Once you’ve mastered the bodyweight squat, you’ll be able to tell if you are compromising your form while carrying weights. Noticing poor form should tell you that you may need to decrease the amount of weight you’re holding.  

A good squat should look like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Your back should remain straight, and your knees should never come forward past your toes. 


If you’re not ready to lift larger amounts of weight, dumbbell deadlifts are a great way to progress into heavier weightlifting.  

To do a deadlift with a barbell, stand behind a barbell you’ve placed on the ground. Keep a straight back as you bend to grip the barbell. Push your hips forward to come to a standing position and keep the barbell at arm’s length. Return the bar to the ground by squatting, but make sure you keep your back straight for the whole movement. 

Closing Thoughts

To create the hourglass physique, you must also build strength. Gone are the days when women feared strength training because they were afraid to get bulky. We’ve crushed those myths and now know that You Won’t Get Bulky Unless You Want To. For more information, listen to more strength training tips and QA’s on Episode 19 of our Podcast: Give Me Strength Training. 

As always, pay attention to pain or discomfort when working out, and use your best judgment when moving weights. 

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