GLUTE ACTIVATION EXERCISES AND ROUTINES
Your gluteal muscles do a lot more than you may realize, and by not keeping them active through regular glute activation exercises you are sacrificing your posterior strength, and potentially making yourself susceptible to knee and back problems.
When I say isolation exercises, I’m talking about exercises that focus primarily on the glutes, so although squats and deadlifts do target the glutes somewhat, they’re certainly not the best for making them bigger and stronger.
Most people can contract their glutes harder during body weight glute activation exercises than during their max in squats and deads.
This particularly affects those with office and desk jobs as long periods of sitting day after day can have a detrimental effect on glute activity. Fortunately, even if you are forced to sit for long hours, you can remedy the situation by regularly performing glute activation exercises.
Foam rolling the glutes can also be extremely beneficial as it will promote blood flow as well as break down any tight muscle tissue and potential trigger points.
The gluteal muscles respond extremely well to bodyweight and banded exercises. You can do them as part of your glute activation work or as a warmup before a heavy body session to get them fired up, either way, you’ll only experience benefits from incorporating them into your routine.
Most of the bodyweight glute activation exercises can be enhanced with the use of a band. The only thing you need to be aware of when using bands is the different levels of resistance, this is usually written on them or on the packaging they come in. If you’re just starting out with glute activation training then use one of the lower resistance bands and gradually work your way up.
Here is my own routine which I do after a brief bout of foam rolling, and before going into either squats or deadlifts.
Banded Glute Bridge – 2 sets of 12 reps with a 5-second hold at the top.
Bird Dog – 2 sets of 12 reps with a 3-second hold at the top (work one side at a time).
Fire Hydrant – 2 Sets of 12 reps with 4-second count (2 seconds up 2 seconds down).
Banded Lateral Walk – 2 Sets of 12 (2 sets on each leg)
To get the most out of these glute activation exercises you should try to use the mind-muscle connection at the peak of the movements on glute bridges and bird dogs, basically, just try and squeeze the glutes at the top.
Give yourself at least a minute rest between each set so you can put maximum effort in without sacrificing form. If you find you’re tired on your next set and can’t reach the reps, take more rest next time.
The movements that target glutes the best will activate them with little to no weight. Follow a gradual progression for best results.
In order to build and make any muscle stronger, adequate resistance is eventually needed. Once you have mastered the bodyweight exercises above, you can progress to these more advanced exercises.
It’s a good idea to use the above exercises to warm up before moving onto these more advanced movements. Alternatively, just use lighter weights and build up to your working sets.
These movements also make excellent additions to your lower body sessions. For example, the barbell hip thrust complements the squat very well, as does the Romanian deadlift. The Bulgarian split squat can be used as a stand-alone quad/glute exercise or included after a deadlift where the quads aren’t used as much.
If you would like me to design you a personalized routine based on your goals and circumstances you can sign up for online coaching with me here.