What Is Glute Activation? And, Why Do it?
Unfortunately, many of us sit at a desk all day hunched over a computer screen. Sitting down all day causes our glutes to become inactive which means your nerves have stopped triggering your glutes to switch on whenever you stand up and move.
This is bad for a number of reasons, it can lead to lower back pain, hip pain, and even knee and ankle pain. You might not be able to lift as much or run as fast as you would like. Also, aesthetically speaking, if you train a lot and your glutes aren’t firing properly then you can become what’s known as “quad dominant” – which means the muscles on the front of your thighs become overworked and tight, and your butt never gets perky!
Sound familiar? It’s a very common problem, I used to suffer from this before I started sprinting and weightlifting.
Many people just focus on doing glute activation exercises before their workouts. This is fine if your glutes are firing properly, but if they aren’t you are going to need to incorporate these exercises into your daily routine.
You are training the nervous system to recruit muscle fibres, and this can take time and consistency.
Glute activation exercises are much like a warm-up, except that they’re focussed specifically on waking up your glute muscles.
Here are four exercises that I use with my clients to improve glute activation. You will need a resistance band to do two of the exercises effectively, here are the ones I use.
You may find one exercise far more effective than the others if that is the case focus on that one!
With each exercise, you are aiming to feel a “burn” in your glutes.
Banded Glute Bridge
- Lie down flat on the ground with your chosen resistance band wrapped around your knees.
- Have your feet flat on the ground, about shoulder width apart. Start by squeezing your glutes and tilting your pelvis towards your belly button (AKA posterior pelvic tilt, this encourages more glute activation).
- Push through your heels and raise your hips up, using your glutes, at the same time as opening your knees as wide as you can, against the resistance of the band.
- Don’t focus on trying to get your hips as high as possible, because you will end up using your lower back and losing the glute activation.
- At the top of the movement hold for 1-2 seconds with your knees spread, clenching your but cheeks as hard as you can!
- Place the band around your knees, stand with your feet just wider than your shoulders with your toes pointing out very slightly.
- Push your hips back as if you are trying to close an open drawer with your bum.
- Then drop your bum down as if you are trying to sit in a chair behind you, at the same time as opening your knees as wide as you can against the resistance of the band
- At the bottom of the squat hold for one second, continuing to push against the band.
- Then, drive through your heels and stand up clenching your butt cheeks as hard as you can all the way until you are fully stood up, where you will continue to clench for 2 seconds.
- Lie down flat on your back, open your knees wide and bring your heels together.
- Tilt your pelvis posteriorly (towards your belly button) to activate your abs and glutes.
- Continue to tilt as you raise your hips up towards the ceiling, squeezing your butt cheeks as hard as you can.
- Repeat this in a pulsing motion, never releasing the tension from your glutes.
- Lie down on one side, with your body in a straight line.
- Tilt your hips towards the ground, so your hips are almost facing the ground, using your top hand to balance.
- Raise your top leg slightly, tilting your toes towards the ground.
- Squeeze your top glute and raise it towards the sky, continuing to tilt your toes downwards.
- Lower it back down to the bottom leg.
- Repeat this motion, always trying to tilt your hips towards the ground and never releasing tension on your glute.
As well as having inactive glutes, you probably have tight, overworked quads and hip flexors.
Use the exercise below to help combat this.
Ideally, you will incorporate two of the glute exercises combined with the deep lunge twice a day, every day and in your warm-ups.
Build it into your routine, I personally like doing them first thing in the morning and then right before bed.
Remember you don’t need to spend hours doing them, just do three sets working until you feel the burn each time. This doesn’t need to take more than 10 minutes.
With time and consistency, you WILL start to notice a difference, but initially, it can be a slow and unrewarding process. I promise you it’s worth it!
Not only are you less likely to suffer from lower back issues, you will perform better in your workouts and you will start to develop that perky behind!