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4 Powerful Glute Activation Exercises

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4 Powerful Glute Activation Exercises
Glute Activation

The glutes are the largest muscle group in your body and play an important role in providing power and stability in many movements - both in day-to-day life and exercise. Developing stronger glutes is a popular fitness goal, and one of the fundamental elements to making progress is learning how to activate your glutes when you exercise. 

Read on to learn how to activate your glutes, why glute activation is important for developing strength and how to perform some of the best glute activation exercises with correct form.

Find Out:

What is glute activation?

Glute activation refers to ‘activating’ (also known as ‘firing up’) the gluteal muscles in an effort to strengthen them. For many individuals, their glutes often remain ‘inactive’ or ‘switched off’. Inactive glutes can mean that the muscles are weak and are not relied on as much as they should be during physical movements.

What are your glutes?

Your glutes — or your gluteal muscles, as they are more formally known — refer to the muscles in your butt. Specifically, there are three major muscles in this area: your gluteus maximus (the main, large muscle that shapes your backside), your gluteus medius and your gluteus minimus (two smaller muscles that assist the gluteus maximus in moving your body).

What causes weak glutes?

While there are many reasons why an individual might have weak glute muscles, one of the main causes is that many of us are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Many jobs now involve people sitting down for a big part of their day, or after a long day of work we go home and sit on the couch; this means that glute activation is less frequent and the gluteus muscles can become more dormant than they should be. Another reason why someone might have weak glutes could be due to poor form and generally over-relying on other muscles during everyday movements, which contributes further to the muscles remaining inactive. 

For these reasons, even if you perform posterior exercises regularly, there is still a good chance that you might have weak glutes. This is especially true if you have not tried to actively work on activating the muscles in this area. 

Why is glute activation important?

Learning how to activate your glutes is important so that you can strengthen them. Strong glute muscles are extremely important as these muscles can have a major impact on your overall body strength; your glutes support your core, help to support a range of exercises and compound movements, as well as help avoid muscle imbalances which can lead to decreased mobility. 

Considering this, it makes sense that under-utilised glutes can contribute to a range of health issues including poor posture, lower back pain, balance issues, lack of strength, muscle pain, and could potentially increase the risk of injury. 

So what are the best exercises for glute activation to strengthen these muscles?

Best exercises for glute activation

Just as you warm up the rest of your body for a workout, it is important to activate (or ‘fire up’) your glute muscles before exercise. Attaining glute activation can be as simple as performing a few activation movements prior to going for a run, or before a weights session. 

By performing a warm-up that specifically focuses on glute activation, you are helping to create a mind-body connection. This can then transfer into your workout, where your focus will be on ensuring your glute muscles remain engaged throughout each exercise. 

Here are the best exercises for glutes that can be done as part of your warm-up to get your glutes firing and ready for the workout ahead. These glute activation exercises provide optimal results by using a resistance band but if you don’t have one, don’t worry — they are still effective exercises to do just with your bodyweight!

Clam Exercise For Glute Activation

Clam — 20 reps

  1. With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, lay on your right side with your arm extended along the mat and your head relaxed on your arm. Bend both knees and draw them forward slightly to bring your feet in line with your glutes, ensuring that your hips are stacked and that you maintain a small gap between your waist and the floor. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale. 
  3. Exhale. Keeping your feet together, activate your right glute to elevate your right knee towards the ceiling, ensuring that you maintain the gap between your waist and the floor.
  4. Inhale. Lower your right knee to return to the starting position.
  5. Complete 10 repetitions on the same side before completing the remaining repetitions on the other side.
Crab Walk to Activate Glutes

Crab Walk — 20 reps

  1. With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains between a 45- to 90-degree angle to your hips. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale. 
  3. Exhale. While maintaining a squat position and keeping your right foot on the floor, step your left foot outwards so that your feet are slightly further than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Inhale. While maintaining a squat position and keeping your left foot on the floor, step your right foot inwards to return to the starting position.
  5. Complete 10 repetitions on the same side before completing the remaining repetitions on the other side.
Donkey Kicks For Glute Muscle Activation

Donkey Kick — 20 reps

  1. With a resistance band looped around your upper thighs, start on all fours on a yoga mat. Ensure that your knees are below your hips and your hands are below your shoulders. Set your spine in a neutral position and draw your shoulder blades down and back.
  2. Inhale. 
  3. Exhale. Keeping your knee bent, release and elevate your right leg until your thigh is in line with your spine, ensuring that your foot remains flexed.
  4. Inhale. Lower your right leg to return to the starting position, but without resting your knee on the mat.
  5. Complete 10 repetitions on the same side, before repeating the remaining repetitions on the other side.
Glute Bridge Exercise

Glute Bridge — 15 reps

  1. With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, lie flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, ensuring that they are hip-width apart and your spine is in a neutral position. Allow your arms to rest by your sides on the mat. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale. 
  3. Exhale. Press your heels into the mat, activate your glutes and raise your pelvis off the floor until your body forms one straight line from chin to knee, resting on your shoulders.
  4. Inhale. Lower your pelvis to return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 15 repetitions.

Fire up your glutes regularly and you’ll feel the results

Aim to perform these glute activation exercises regularly before you workout — especially when your workout involves your lower body. Add in some glute stretches during cool down after you workout to make the most of your session.

By doing this, as well as regularly foam rolling as a recovery method, you are helping yourself get one step closer towards optimising your results. Increasing regular glute activation will strengthen one of the biggest and most important muscles in your body!

What other exercises do you like to do to help activate your glutes? Let us know in the comments below!

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

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