Our glutes have the potential to be the strongest muscle group in the body, yet because of our sedentary lifestyle they are often the most overlooked – they actually stop working properly because of inactivity, crazy right? So the sitting down at work all day, sitting on the sofa watching the tv etc etc cause our glutes to stop functioning as well as they can, essentially deteriorating the older we get (the older we get, generally the less active we get). Because of their laziness, other muscles often step in and start working overdrive to compensate which can lead to additional wear and tear, especially on the back (cue lower back pain).
Generally, our glutes are lazy – despite being involved in a vast number of movements (think running, jumping, lifting) they are last in line to work so in order to push them to it’s important to get them activated. I am definitely quad dominant so it is sometimes a struggle for me to get my lazy glutes working without the quads taking over but to do so I always carry a mini band with me pre-workout and gradually I am becoming more and more able to activate my glutes throughout exercise (and everyday movement).
Here are some of the movements I use at the moment for glute activation, I focus on the glutes the whole way through to make sure they’re working:
Banded squat pulses: use a mini band around the knees and pulse in the squat position pushing out against the band. I usually do 3 sets of 20. It’s important to engage the core, push the bottom backwards and keep the chest up squeezing the glutes to stand.
Side steps: put the miniband around the feet, or the ankles (whichever you prefer), keep the abs tight and step out to the side, keeping tension on the band throughout (don’t step the feet too close together) and a bend in the knees. I tend to do 2 steps each way and repeat 20 times for 3 sets.
Kick backs: with the band around the ankles lift the leg behind, keeping a tight midline and not allowing the back to arch. You can hold on to something for support (or do it free standing for that extra core workout…), squeezing the glutes throughout. I usually superset with side kicks 3 x 20 each side.
Side kicks: as above but with the leg out to the side, it’s important again to keep the midline tight and don’t allow the hips to jut out to the side to compensate for the movement.
Raised clam: this also activates the external hip rotators and can be performed with an upper body raise or lying flat to the floor, making sure that the band is above the knees (not on them). You can either place the hand on the hip or on the floor for additional support but make sure not to twist the body – keep the feet together and squeeze the glutes as you lift the top knee up. I usually do 3 sets of 15/side.
Glute bridge: again with the band above the knees, keeping the head and spine neutral, lift the bottom up and squeeze, keeping tension on the band throughout and pushing down through the heels – don’t overextend the back. Complete 3 sets of 20.
Donkey kick: in a box shape with the hips over knees and shoulders over hands, lift the leg up (the band should be on the base leg shin and below the lifted leg knee) and pulse keeping tension on the band and a neutral spine. I usually do 3 sets x 15 each leg.
The more you focus on glute activation the more your glutes will start to work so bring it in to your workout regime and see if you can get that connection with your glutes – it will help increase strength and power!
I am starting a monthly email newsletter with more hints and tips along with recipes and workouts in the next month, if you want to receive them please subscribe by entering your email address in the subscribe box (and don’t forget to check your junk for the confirmation!), if you’re viewing the mobile version it’s at the bottom of each page and if you’re on desktop it’s on the left.