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Why Glute Activation Is So Important

Why Glute Activation Is So Important

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Why Glute Activation Is So Important
Glute Activation

In the workout world at the moment, glute activation seems to be a primary focus for a lot of women. Have you been wondering what this refers to though and why it feels like so many ladies out there seem to be working on their glutes?! 

What are your glutes?

Firstly, let’s establish where your glutes are and what they actually refer to! Your ‘glutes’ — or your gluteal muscles, as they are more formally known — refer to the muscles in your butt. Specifically, there are three major muscles in this area: your gluteus maximus (the main, large muscle that shapes your backside), your gluteus medius and your gluteus minimus (two smaller muscles that assist the gluteus maximus in moving your body).

What is glute activation?

For many individuals, their glutes often remain ‘inactive’ or ‘switched off’. Inactive glutes can mean that the muscles are weak and are not relied on as much as they should be during physical movements. Glute activation refers to ‘activating’ (also known as ‘firing up’) the muscles in an effort to strengthen them. 

What causes weak glutes?

While there are many reasons why an individual might have weak glute muscles, one of the main causes is that many of us are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Many jobs now involve people sitting down for a big part of their day, or after a long day of work we go home and sit on the couch; this means that the gluteus muscles can become dormant more than they should be. Another reason why someone might have weak glutes could be because of poor form and generally over-relying on other muscles during everyday movements, which contributes further to the muscles remaining inactive. 

For these reasons, even if you perform posterior exercises regularly, there is still a good chance that you might have weak glutes. This is especially true if you have not tried to actively work on activating the muscles in this area. 

Why is glute activation important?

Learning to activate your glutes is important so that you can strengthen them. Strong glute muscles are extremely important as these muscles can have a major impact on your overall body strength; your glutes support your core, help to support a range of exercises and compound movements, as well as help avoid muscle imbalances which can lead to decreased mobility. 

Considering this, it makes sense that under-utilised glutes can contribute to a range of health issues including poor posture, lower back pain, balance issues, lack of strength, muscle pain, and could potentially increase the risk of injury. 

So what can you do to strengthen these muscles?
 

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Best glute activation exercises 

Just as you warm up the rest of your body for a workout, it is important to activate (or ‘fire up’) your glute muscles prior to exercise. This can be as simple as performing a few activation movements prior to going for a run, or before a weights session. 

By performing a warm-up that specifically focuses on activating your glutes, you are helping to create a mind-body connection. This can then transfer into your workout, where your focus will be on ensuring your glute muscles remain engaged throughout each exercise. 

Here are some simple exercises that can be done as part of your warm-up to get your glutes firing and ready for the workout ahead. These exercises provide optimal results by using a resistance band but if you don’t have one, don’t worry — they are still effective exercises to do just with your bodyweight!

clam-exercise-glute-activation

Clam — 20 reps

  1. With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, lay on your right side with your arm extended along the mat and your head relaxed on your arm. Bend both knees and draw them forward slightly to bring your feet in line with your glutes, ensuring that your hips are stacked and that you maintain a small gap between your waist and the floor. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale. 
  3. Exhale. Keeping your feet together, activate your right glute to elevate your right knee towards the ceiling, ensuring that you maintain the gap between your waist and the floor.
  4. Inhale. Lower your right knee to return to the starting position.
  5. Complete 10 repetitions on the same side before completing the remaining repetitions on the other side.
crab-walk-glute-activation

Crab Walk — 20 reps

  1. With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains between a 45- to 90-degree angle to your hips. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale. 
  3. Exhale. While maintaining a squat position and keeping your right foot on the floor, step your left foot outwards so that your feet are slightly further than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Inhale. While maintaining a squat position and keeping your left foot on the floor, step your right foot inwards to return to the starting position.
  5. Complete 10 repetitions on the same side before completing the remaining repetitions on the other side.
donkey-kick-glute-activation

Donkey Kick — 20 reps

  1. With a resistance band looped around your upper thighs, start on all fours on a yoga mat. Ensure that your knees are below your hips and your hands are below your shoulders. Set your spine in a neutral position and draw your shoulder blades down and back.
  2. Inhale. 
  3. Exhale. Keeping your knee bent, release and elevate your right leg until your thigh is in line with your spine, ensuring that your foot remains flexed.
  4. Inhale. Lower your right leg to return to the starting position, but without resting your knee on the mat.
  5. Complete 10 repetitions on the same side, before repeating the remaining repetitions on the other side.
glute-bridge-glute-activation

Glute Bridge — 15 reps

  1. With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, lie flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, ensuring that they are hip-width apart and your spine is in a neutral position. Allow your arms to rest by your sides on the mat. This is your starting position.
  2. Inhale. 
  3. Exhale. Press your heels into the mat, activate your glutes and raise your pelvis off the floor until your body forms one straight line from chin to knee, resting on your shoulders.
  4. Inhale. Lower your pelvis to return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 15 repetitions.

Fire up your glutes regularly and you’ll feel the results

Aim to perform these exercises regularly before you workout — especially when your workout involves your lower body. By doing this, as well as regularly foam rolling as a recovery method, you are helping yourself get one step closer towards optimising your results and strengthening one of the biggest and most important muscles in your body!

What other exercises do you like to do to help activate your glutes? Let us know in the comments below!

* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.

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