Why Glute Activation is Important
All I want is a nice round booty, what do you mean its asleep?
These days, the big fad is to have a nice big round backside, and gone are the days where super skinny pancake butt ruled the world. The gluteus maximum muscle is arguably the largest and most important muscle in our body. Activating this muscle will be so beneficial for our all around fitness and assist in preventing injuries such as lower back pain. Below you will find photos and videos of some of my favourite glute activation exercises.
The average person sits around 8 hours a day in a typical office job. Sitting down for long periods will cause a myriad of tight muscles such as tight hip flexors, hamstrings and glutes. Even fitness enthusiasts and elite athletes can find it difficult to properly fire their glutes. The glutes are one of the most common muscles to lay dormant and take a break. People who have suffered injuries in the past can also become victim of gluteal inactivation because the way the injuries can change their body mechanics. You can squat, deadlift and lunge until your face turns blue, but if you only marginally feel this in your backside, its time to incorporate a few movements prior to your epic leg day.
By activating the gluteal muscles, you are activating the mind muscle connection. Your brain will send signals to the targeted muscle to let it know that its time to kick in. These exercises can be done prior to your workout or as an active rests between sets.
First, its important to stretch around the gluteal region. A hip flexor stretch is perfect to open the hips up prior to doing deep squats. Then, it would be a bonus if you could foam roll the glutes and the piriformis region.
The first movement which is highly effective at activating the glute region is the clamshell. The clamshell is a fantastic hip flexor and gluteal activation exercise. First, lay on your side, rest your head on your hand and then bend your legs. Make sure a straight line is formed from your head down to your knees. If you have problems forming the straight line, doing the clamshell up against a wall will ensure this position. Keeping your feet together, bring your knee up and squeeze the glutes and then bring the knees back together, then repeat on both sides. Usually 25 repetitions per side is enough to wake up the gluteal region.
Some people find that the clamshell is uncomfortable and cannot get the straight line. Additionally, they feel the hip flexors take reign over the glutes. So another option is a modified clam shell movement.
The fire hydrant exercise is also a great way to activate the area. On all fours, bring one leg (still bent 90 degrees at knee) all the way up and squeeze glutes at the top, repeat on the other side. 20 repetitions per side.
ABDUCTOR WITH BANDS
On a seat or bench, pull some resistance bands around the top part of your knees or just below. With feet about hip width apart, and bending slightly forward, pull the legs outward and squeeze the glutes, repeat. 40-50 repetitions will more than fire up the glutes.
ELEVATED GLUTE BRIDGE WITH BANDS
The elevated glute bridge with bands is a powerhouse as far as glute activation goes. By increasing your range of motion off a bench and using bands, you will be activating multiple muscles at one time.
A lateral tube walk is an exercise that can super charge and put your glutes on fire all day. In a slight hunch over stance, with resistance band below the knees, take the widest lateral step that you can, at the end, stay in the same position and go the opposite direction. You may need to take a few breathers in between as this one is super tough!
HYPEREXTENSIONS/GLUTE HAM RAISE
If you have access to either a roman chair or hyperextension bench at the gym, I highly recommend doing these to fire up the glutes but to also fire up the hamstrings. A great tip to super fire the glutes is to externally rotate the feet. Make sure the resting pad is aligned at the top part of the pelvis and that your feet are properly locked in. If you want to include the lower back into the move, do a full range of motion, keeping your head down the whole time, and come all the way up squeezing the glute and hamstrings at the top.
So there you have it. Some of my favourite exercises to fire up the glute region to ensure that your working sets on your leg day are packed with power in all the right places.
Happy leg day!