No ifs, ands, or butts about it: Even if you work your glutes regularly, what woman doesn’t want to make her rear view tighter, smaller, and sexier? Unfortunately, building the butt of your dreams is no easy task. Women often store fat in their lower body, which means it’s generally the last place we lose extra weight.

We had a chance to chat with all-star trainer Pauline Nordin, creator of The Butt Bible e-book and DVD series. “The secret to a better butt is working hard and working for a long time,” she says. Steal her expert tips and rock a bikini with pride all summer long.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake women make when training their glutes?

A: Most women think they have to do 20–30 reps of each exercise to see results. But if your goal is to build more muscle, that’s the wrong approach. When you do those long sets, you’re building endurance fibers and not stimulating your muscles to grow. It’s better to go at a higher intensity and use a bigger weight but do only 8–15 reps. You can do tons of squats and lunges, but if you don’t increase your weight, you’ll plateau.

Q: Why is it important to have a strong butt?

A: Your glutes play a big role in posture and most basic movements. They take pressure off your back, too, so if you have back problems, it’s especially important to build strong glutes. Unfortunately, most people sit on their butts all day at work, not using their glutes at all, so make sure to incorporate moves into your strength workouts that target your glutes.

Q: How often should you include glute exercises in your strength-training routine?

A: Once or twice a week. There’s no reason to do them every day. You have to let your muscles recover in order for them to grow. Women are scared of growing their muscles, thinking it will make them look bulky, but since muscle takes up less space than fat, the more you have, the tighter (and smaller) your butt will be.

Q: Can strength training minimize cellulite?

A: Fat cells on thighs and glutes don’t disappear easily. But if you’re untrained, with little muscle, building more muscle may stretch the skin over cellulite, possibly reducing its appearance. But strength training alone won’t get rid of it. Because cellulite may be caused by genetics and hormones, heavy workouts and a healthy diet probably won’t make it totally disappear.

Q: What moves should always be included in your butt workout?

A: All kinds of squats: wide-stance squats, sumo squats—everything. They are the best way to target your glutes. I’ve never done a lower-body workout that didn’t involve squats. If you’re not doing them, then you’re probably doing a sissy workout.

Q: What’s the best cardio to do for your butt?

A: Let’s say you want to get the fat off your butt. If you have less muscle and more fat, then doing a lot of cardio will help you lose the fat, but you’ll be left with a flat butt. You need to focus on muscle building while you’re burning fat. That means you should avoid cardio that keeps a steady pace and opt for cardio workouts that alternate high-intensity intervals with recovery periods. Do cardio training like you do weight training, one minute fast and one minute slow. It increases your fat-burning rate. But it’s important to have a strong strength-training routine in place so you first build muscle and then do cardio to take off the fat.