How to Activate Glutes? 4 Exercises for Glute Muscle Activation

by Krissy Cela

What is Glute Activation?

For the majority of us, today’s lifestyle has resulted 'lazy glutes'. What this means is our gluteal muscles are not active or 'switched on' during a lower body workout. Lazy glutes may also be a result of muscle tension or pelvis alignment, where other muscles are overcompensating.

Inactive glutes over a prolonged period of time may contribute to several health issues such as lower back pain and even poor posture. Whether this is due to being sat in class, at our desks, or even sat binge watching the latest TV show on the sofa, it is very common, but something that can be fixed.

Glute activation allows you to awaken these muscles, creating a mind-muscle connection to ensure your glutes are fired up and active throughout your workout.

There are a lot of different ways to achieve glute activation while doing other activities. You can exercise (for example with bands) while walking, sitting, running or doing squats.

Muscles Used: Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus

Method - example workout:

Body weight squats:

1) Stand upright, core engaged, shoulders back, chest upright, facing forward with feet hip width apart
2) Slight externally rotate feet outwards so it is more comfortable on your knees
3) Hinge at the hips, slowly bend your knees and lower down into your squat, keeping your core nice and tight, it is ok for your knees to go over your toes as long as your knees remain in alignment with your toes
4) Return to standing position, be sure not to lock knees at the top

Standing abductions:

1) Standing upright, core engaged, shoulders back, check upright, facing forward with feet hip width apart and toes pointing forwards
2) Hold onto a wall or a chair for a balance, or if you feel comfortable you can place your hands on your hips
3) Keeping a slight bend in the knee (do not lock your legs) raise one leg out to the side of you keeping your torso straight, then control back down.
4) Be careful not to swing your leg, this should be a controlled movement
5) Repeat the movement for required repetitions and then repeat on the opposite leg

Glute Bridges:

1) Lie flat on your back with your chin tucked, spine neutral and knees bent
2) Legs should be shoulder width apart with feet flat on the floor and externally rotated outwards
3) Engage your core and tuck in your tailbone
4) Press your heels into the floor, contract your glutes and lift your hips off the floor until your body forms one straight line from your shoulders to your knees
5) Pause at the top, ensuring to not hyperextend at the top, then slowly release back down

Donkey Kick Backs:

1) Start on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and knees under hips
2) Do not hyperextend or arch your spine, keep your back straight and core engaged
3) Raise one leg keeping it at a 90 degree angle extending it straight as it rises, your maximum height will not allow your spine to arch
4) Lower the leg back down to starting position but without the knee touching the floor
5) Repeat the movement for required repetitions and then repeat on the opposite leg