5 Glute Activation Exercises

We’re friends, right? So let me ask you a personal question: how often are you thinking about your glutes? Remember, I said your glutes. Not the glutes of that cute girl across the gym in the booty shorts. Well, if you’re planning on using your lower body today in your workout, then your answer better be, “Often.”

I know what you’re thinking, “But Mike, I already squat. Pretty sure my glutes are as active as they get.” Wrong. Unfortunately, for the majority of people who are trapped sitting behind a desk for most of the day, your glutes may not be as active as you think. The constant sitting, lack of tension, and activation cause your glutes to, for the lack of a better term, “shut off.” Don’t panic, though, because all we have to do is wake them back up and, lucky for you, I know just the thing to flip the switch.

5 Glute Activation Exercises to Try Today

1. Banded Monster Walks

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Banded monster walks are my go-to drill when squatting or hinging is on the menu — so basically, every day. You can also add a ton of variation to this movement whether it’s walking laterally, forward and backward, or straight-legged penguin style.

Description

  • While standing, place band around knees or ankles.
  • Assume athletic position (knees bent, chest upright, weight balanced in feet).
  • Create a wide base and walk either forward and backward or laterally.

Points Of Performance

  • Tension should always be on the band, do not bring feet too close together.
  • Maintain slight knee bend throughout.
  • Toes pointed straight ahead.
  • Do not drag back foot.
  • Slow and deliberate steps.

2. Clamshells

Any warm-up exercise where you get to lie down while you’re doing it is okay in my book. The clamshell does a great job of really highlighting how weak or poorly activated most athletes’ glutes and abductors are — it’s an eye-opening experience for some.

Description

  • Place band around your knees and lie down on your side.
  • While keeping one leg on top of the other, slightly bend your knees in toward your chest.
  • With your feet pinned together, spread your knees apart against the band tension (top knee should lift up, bottom leg stays on the ground).
  • Return to starting position.

Points Of Performance

  • The only thing that should move during this exercise is the top leg.
  • Keep feet together as your anchor.
  • Return to starting position under control — don’t let the band pull your knees back together quickly.

3. Glute Bridges

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Glute bridges may be the most widely known exercise to help fire up your posterior. I still have the image of Richard Simmons lying on his back thrusting into the air burned into my memory… the horror. Moving on! Variety is the name of the game with glute bridges. You can do them the standard two-footed way, with one foot in the air, or even add a load or a resistance band to your hips. Mix and match for optimal results.

Description

  • Start lying on your back, knees bent toward the ceiling, feet flat on the floor.
  • Feet together.
  • Lift toes off the floor so just heels are in contact with the ground.
  • Lift hips toward the ceiling, squeeze your butt at the top.
  • Return to starting position.

 Points Of Performance

  • Squeeze glutes at the top of repetition to ensure full range of motion.
  • Return to the floor under control — you can try going just shy of touching your butt to the floor to keep tension on throughout.

4. Banded Kickbacks

Banded kickbacks may seem pretty silly if you’ve ever walked in on someone doing them, but who are we kidding? So do most of the movements on this list. Silly-looking? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.

Description

Start standing.

  • Either loop the mini band around both ankles or attach one end to a beam or pole and the other end around one ankle
  • If using a beam or rig, face the beam.
  • With a straight leg, extend your leg behind you. Do not hinge forward at the hip.
  • Squeeze butt at end range of motion.
  • Return to starting position.

Points Of Performance

  • Keep abs on and rib cage down during movement — avoid overarching to gain a greater range of motion.
  • Upper body should remain rigid.
  • Work hard as leg returns to starting position.

5. Bird Dogs

The beauty of the bird dog is that it requires no other equipment other than a little bit of space. You can do them practically everywhere — your living room, office cubicle, crowded subway — I didn’t say it was recommended, just that you could do them.

Description

  • Start on your hands and knees.
  • Hands should be directly under shoulders — knees should be directly under hips.
  • Bring opposite arm and leg together under body (elbow to knee).
  • Fully extend arm and leg to create long, straight line from finger to toe.
  • Return to starting position and repeat on other side.

Points Of Performance

  • Try to be as long and straight as possible in finish position — think about reaching back foot toward the wall behind you.
  • Engage abs to prevent saggy midsection.
  • Squeeze glutes at the top of each repetition.

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