Blog Fitness Workout Plans 10 Glute Activation Exercises To Warm Up With Before Your Lower Body Workout

10 Glute Activation Exercises To Warm Up With Before Your Lower Body Workout

Did you know that your glutes are the largest muscle group in your body? They comprise the gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus muscles, which attach to your pelvis, femur (thigh bone), and sacrum (tailbone) (9). Given their size and placement in the body, it’s no wonder that strong glutes are essential for so many movements, including walking, running, jumping, and climbing. Unfortunately, due to our sedentary lifestyles and the amount of time we spend sitting (at a desk, in a car, or on the couch), our glutes can become “inactive” or “lazy.” This can lead to imbalances in the muscles and even pain in the lower back, hips, and knees. Hitting a lower-body-focused workout with weak or inactive glutes can further aggravate these issues. That’s why it’s important to do a few glute activation exercises before diving into your lower-body workout routine. These exercises “wake up” the muscles and get them firing properly so that you can train with proper form and technique, and avoid injury. Read on to find out more about glute activation and the best exercises to do before your lower-body workout!

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What Is Glute Activation?

Glute activation is the process of “waking up” the glute muscles so that they can fire properly during exercise. When the glutes are inactive or dysfunctional, other muscles have to pick up the slack (often leading to injury) (1).

Think about it this way: if your biceps are weak, they’re not going to be able to do their share of the work when you’re doing a chin-up. As a result, your back and shoulders will have to work overtime. The same is true for the glutes. 

If they’re not firing properly, the muscles in your lower back and hamstrings will have to pick up the slack. This can lead to imbalances, pain, and injury (1).

Do glute activation workouts work? Yes, they do. These exercises place emphasis on the glutes, forcing them to fire and “turn on.” This sets you up for a successful, safe, and balanced lower-body workout (4).

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That’s not all; glute activation exercises offer a few other benefits such as:

Establishing A Mind-Muscle Connection

A mind-muscle connection is key for targeted muscle growth (7) (8). To effectively build a muscle, you need to be able to recruit and activate it. This is where the mind-muscle connection comes in.

When you can picture the muscle working as you perform an exercise (i.e., you have a mental image of the muscle contracting), you’re more likely to activate and recruit it. This, in turn, will lead to better muscle growth. 

So, if you want strong and shapely glutes, focusing on the mind-muscle connection is essential.

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Improving Posture

If you spend a lot of time sitting (at a desk, in a car, on the couch), then you’re probably familiar with “text neck” and lower back pain. These are both signs of poor posture (2) (11).

The good news is that activating your glutes can help improve your posture (5). When the glutes are weak or inactive, they can cause the pelvis to tilt forward. This places extra strain on the lower back, leading to pain and poor posture (1).

But when the glutes are strong and firing properly, they help keep the pelvis in a neutral position. This takes the pressure off the lower back and can help improve your posture.

Encourage Proper Form

Form is key when it comes to any type of exercise (12). But it’s especially important when doing lower-body exercises such as squats, lunges, and deadlifts.

If the glutes are not firing properly, your form will suffer. For example, if you’re doing a squat and your glutes are not firing, you may lean too far forward. This puts extra strain on the knees and lower back, which can lead to pain or injury.

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Furthermore, improper form results in not getting the full benefit of the exercise.

But when the glutes are firing properly, they help you maintain proper form. This allows you to get the most out of your workout and avoid pain or injury.

Reducing The Risk Of Injury

As we mentioned, weak or inactive glutes can lead to imbalances in the muscles and joints. When the glutes are not firing properly, other muscles (usually in the lower back and hamstrings) have to pick up the slack. This can lead to imbalances and eventually pain or injury (3).

But when the glutes are strong and firing properly, they help increase mobility and stability in the hips and knees (6). This, in turn, reduces the risk of injury.

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glute activation exercises

Which Exercises Activate Glutes The Most?

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of glute activation, let’s take a look at some of the best exercises to do before your lower-body workout.

Glute Bridge With Resistance Band

To do it: 

  1. Loop a resistance band around your lower thighs just above your knees.
  2. Lie flat on your back with your feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Push through your heels to raise your hips off the ground until your thighs and torso are in line with each other.
  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold for 2 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position and repeat.

Fire Hydrant With Resistance Band

To do it: 

  1. Start on all fours with a resistance band looped around your ankles.
  2. Keep your back flat and brace your core.
  3. Lift your left leg to the side, keeping your thigh parallel to the ground.
  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold for 2 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position and repeat.
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Hip Thrust With Resistance Band

To do it: 

  1. Sit on the ground with a resistance band looped around your thighs just above your knees.
  2. Place your feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lean back against a bench or chair and place your upper back and head on the seat.
  4. Brace your core and push through your heels to raise your hips off the ground until your thighs and torso are in line with each other.
  5. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold for 2 seconds.
  6. Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position and repeat.

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Clam Shell With Resistance Band

To do it: 

  1. Lay on your right side with a resistance band looped around your thighs just above your knees.
  2. Bend both knees, stacking your feet one on top of the other.
  3. Keeping your feet touching, raise your left knee as high as you can without moving your hips.
  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold for 2 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position and repeat. Turn around and repeat on the other side.

Donkey Kick With Resistance Band

To do it: 

  1. Start on all fours with a resistance band looped around your ankles.
  2. Keep your back flat and brace your core.
  3. Lift your left leg behind you, keeping your thigh parallel to the ground.
  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold for 2 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position and repeat. Turn around and repeat on the other side.

Crab Walk With Resistance Band

To do it: 

  1. Loop a resistance band around your lower things, just above your knees. Bend at your hips and knees to form a half-squat position.
  2. Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, step your right foot to the side.
  3. Follow with your left foot, keeping your feet in the same position.
  4. Continue moving sideways until you’ve gone as far as you can. 
  5. Turn around and crabwalk in the other direction.
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Read More: Glute Activation Workout To Fire Up Your Muscles

glute activation exercises

Bird Dog With Resistance Band

To do it: 

  1. Start on all fours with a resistance band looped around your ankles.
  2. Keep your back flat and brace your core.
  3. Raise your left leg behind you, keeping your thigh parallel to the ground. At the same time, raise your right arm in front of you.
  4. Squeeze your glutes and core at the top of the movement and hold for 2 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your leg and arm back to the starting position and repeat. Turn around and repeat on the other side.

Side Plank With Leg Lift

To do it: 

  1. Lie on your right side with your feet stacked on top of each other.
  2. Prop yourself up on your right elbow and raise your hips off the ground, keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Brace your core and lift your left leg off the ground, keeping it in line with your body.
  4. Hold for 2 seconds, then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Standing Abductor Raise

To do it: 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a resistance band looped around your ankles.
  2. Brace your core and keep your legs straight as you raise your left leg out to the side.
  3. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold for 2 seconds.
  4. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position and repeat. Turn around and repeat on the other side.

Squats With Resistance Band

To do it: 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a resistance band looped around your ankles.
  2. Bend at your hips and knees to lower your body into a squatting position.
  3. Keep your chest up and your core braced as you push through your heels to return to the starting position. Repeat.
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glute activation exercises

How Long Should Your Glute Activation Be?

Ideally, you should spend about 10 minutes performing glute activation exercises before your lower body workout. This will help ensure that your muscles are properly warmed up and ready to work. If you’re short on time, aim for 2-3 sets of each exercise, with 10-15 repetitions per set.

Keeping your glute activation workout short yet effective will help you save your energy for the main event – your lower body workout. 

Think quality over quantity when it comes to glute activation exercises. Choose a few exercises that target your glutes from different angles and perform them with perfect form. 

Can I Perform Glute Activation Exercises Every Day?

There’s no need to perform glute activation exercises every day. Doing so could actually lead to overuse injuries (10). 

Instead, focus on performing them 1-2 times per week, either before your lower body workouts or on days when you’re not training your legs. This will help ensure that your muscles are properly rested and ready to work when it’s time to train.

Can Glute Activation Workout Be Done As A Standalone Workout?

Yes, you can perform a glute activation workout on its own. This could be a great option if you’re short on time or if you just want to focus on improving mobility and range of motion. 

Simply choose 3-4 exercises from the list above and perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions. 

The Bottom Line

Glute activation exercises are a crucial part of any lower-body workout routine. By performing these exercises before your workout, you can help prevent injuries and ensure that your muscles are properly warmed up and ready to work.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. ASSESSING AND TREATING GLUTEUS MAXIMUS WEAKNESS – A CLINICAL COMMENTARY (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. Association Between Text Neck and Neck Pain in Adults : Spine (2021, journals.lww.com)
  3. A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS OF COMMON THERAPEUTIC EXERCISES THAT GENERATE HIGHEST MUSCLE ACTIVITY IN THE GLUTEUS MEDIUS AND GLUTEUS MINIMUS SEGMENTS (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  5. Gluteus Maximus – Physiopedia (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
  6. Gluteus Medius and Minimus Muscle Structure, Strength, and Function in Healthy Adults: Brief Report (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training (2015, link.springer.com)
  8. Mind-muscle connection: effects of verbal instructions on muscle activity during bench press exercise (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  9. Muscles of the Gluteal Region (n.d., teachmeanatomy.info)
  10. Overtraining Syndrome (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  11. Posture – Physiopedia (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
  12. Weight training: Do’s and don’ts of proper technique (2020, mayoclinic.org)
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