Thanks to Jennifer Lopez continuing to kill it on the red carpet after all these years and now the "belfie" craze, it goes without saying that many of us want a toned, perky bottom. But aside from being a coveted look, building stronger glutes has an incredibly important purpose.

A strong butt helps to keep your lower back safe from injury, which keeps you safer when lifting weights in the gym (and kids outside of the gym!), and it can help you run or sprint faster. A sculpted, lifted, rounded work of art for a backside is really just a plus! 

Whether you want to look better on the beach or beat your 5k run record, the prescription is the same. With these top 5 booty exercises, you’ll be well on your way to crushing your race times and your bikini all at once.

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Hip Thrusts

This exercise has recently taken the world by storm. While there are several variations, one of my favorites is to do them against a flat bench (or couch if you’re at home). Sit on the floor and lean back into the edge of the bench or couch, making sure the edge sits just underneath your shoulder blades. (Make sure that the bench is secured in place, either by placing it against a wall or by putting weights behind it, if you need to.)

Place your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Press through your heels and lift your torso up off the ground, using your glutes and hamstrings to push through the motion (to make it harder you can hold a dumbbell on top of your hips, as shown below). When your torso is flat and your legs are at a 90 degree angle, slowly lower your booty back to the ground. Complete 12-15 reps of this exercise.

 

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Goblet Squat

Hold a dumbbell vertically with both hands at your chest. Your palms will be facing each other. Stand with your feet out a few inches wider than shoulder width, toes slightly flared out. Sit back and then squat down until you’re parallel to the floor, or even slightly below. Drive through your heels and stand back up to complete a rep. Complete 15 reps of this exercise.

Photo: courtesy of Jennifer Cohen

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Dumbbell Deadlift

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms hanging down in front of you and your palms facing your body. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and have your knees slightly bent. Hold a good posture; keeping your knees slightly bent with your shoulders back and chest out, slowly start pushing your hips back and lowering the dumbbells down until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Make sure to keep a nice flat back while doing this. It is important to keep the dumbbells grazing your body throughout the entire movement. When you’ve reached full extension, start pulling your hips back inwards and allowing the dumbbells to slowly rise back up to standing position. Complete 12-15 reps of this exercise.

Photo: courtesy of Jen Cohen

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Lying Flutter Kicks

Grab a light band and place it around your ankles. Lie face down on a Swiss ball at about mid-torso, with your hands on the ground. While planting your left foot on the ground, lift your right leg straight up (keeping your leg straight and toe towards the ground) as high as you can. Slowly lower back down to complete 1 rep. Complete 12-15 reps of this exercise on one leg before switching to the other leg.

Photo: courtesy of Jennifer Cohen

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Low Step-Ups

Now, finish it out with this familiar move. While many people think that a higher step is better, using a lower step actually targets the glutes more!

Find a stool, a sturdy chair, or even the stairs in your house to perform this exercise. Start by standing in front of a step with your hands at your sides. Slowly lift your right leg up and step up, bringing your left leg to meet your right leg. Slowly step back down with your left leg first, and then bring your right back down to the floor. This is one rep. Complete 12 reps of this exercise with right leg moving first, then switch to moving left leg first for another 12 reps on that side.

For more quick workout ideas, check out 5 Moves for Slim, Toned Thighs

Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today ShowExtraThe Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on FacebookTwitterG+ and on Pinterest.