Exercises To Improve Glute Activation
Are your glutes activating properly in your workouts or even in your everyday life? Learn 3 simple exercise to improve glute activation today!
Importance of glute strength
Strong gluteal muscles are so important for optimal movement patterns of the body. When the glutes are weak, we’re more prone to develop injuries, particularly of the lower back and lower extremities (hips, knees, and feet).
The glutes are a very common area of weakness for people. It’s not uncommon to find poor glute activation in individuals with a history of lower back injury. When glute activation is poor, the quads and hamstrings are typically overworking with exercises and the glutes are underworking. As discussed, this is not ideal in regards to injury prevention. This also won’t help you build your butt if this is your goal!
The 3 exercises below will help you re-educate the two major parts of the gluteus muscle, the gluteus maximus and the gluteus medius. Re-educating these muscles helps them to activate properly.
These exercises are great to perform if you’re new to exercise or if you feel like you’re not seeing the gains you want in your glutes. Glute activation is key to gaining muscle in your butt! You can also use these exercises as a warm-up prior to your leg workouts to get the glutes to fire even better!
3 Simple Exercises To Improve Glute Activation
1. Prone TKEs (5 sec hold, 10 reps, 1 set)
Lying on your stomach, tuck the toes on one side under with the knee still relaxed on the floor. (1st photo below)
Place your hands under your forehead and rest your head on your hands (this keeps the neck in neutral).
First, squeeze your butt. Next, begin to lift your knee off the ground so that your knee is straight. You’ll be lifting the knee on the side that the toes are tucked. Keep your toes on the ground as you lift your knee. Also, keep your hips where they started and focus on only moving from the knee joint. (2nd photo below)
Try to keep the glute engaged while lifting and hold for 5 seconds. When lowering the knee back down, still try to keep the glute squeezed until the knee is back on the floor.
Once the knee is back down, relax the glutes and then re-contract before the next rep. As with any exercise, make sure you don’t hold your breath!
2. Prone Hip Extension (5 sec hold, 10 reps, 1 set)
Start by lying on your stomach with the legs relaxed on the floor.
Place your hands under your forehead and relax your head on your hands on to keep your neck in neutral.
Squeeze your butt first, then lift one leg. Hold 5 seconds, then lower the leg back down and switch sides. Don’t lift too high because this can cause you to lose correct form.
For example, if you lift and you feel your pelvis really pressing into the floor, you may have lifted too high. If your pelvis is totally off the floor, you may be rotating your body too much. When starting out, it’s best to start with a smaller lift to gain muscle control.
As with any exercise, make sure you don’t hold your breath!
3. Sidelying Hip Abduction (2 sec hold, 10-15 reps, 3 sets)
This exercise works the outer portion of the glute, your gluteus medius.
For the starting position of this exercise, lay on your side, bend your bottom leg, and allow your top leg to be straight with the foot relaxing on the floor.
You can straighten your bottom arm out and relax your head on your upper arm or you can bend your elbow and relax your head in your hand as seen in photo below.
Keeping the knee straight, lift the top leg but keep a few things in mind:
1. Make sure your toes of this leg are pointing forward and NOT up to the ceiling. If they point up to the ceiling, this totally changes the muscle activation.
2. Keep your leg in a straight line with your pelvis. Don’t let the leg drift forward.
3. Start with a small lift. If you can keep your toes pointing forward, you can lift as high as you see in the photo but NO higher!
4. Lastly, keep the knee straight on the leg you are lifting.
Hold the lifted leg for 2 seconds, then lower back down and repeat.
There are your 3 exercises to improve glute activation! The exercises may look simple but when done with control and with correct form, they are extremely effective.
I also have a video where I take you through these exercises. If you find video format helpful in learning, check it out below.