The Glutes are one of my favorite muscular groups. Not for the obvious reason, but for the complexity and just about how great they really are!
Hip extension and rotation are paramount in many athletic endeavours, as well as functions of daily life. A simple internet search will yield many peer reviewed articles showing a relationship between the strength of this muscle group and athletic performance, as well as low back pain, hip pain, knee pain, etc. I am glad in how widely we have improved understanding how important it is to “activate” the glutes before we start our workout. I can see people rolling on the foam roller, using resistance bands or just simply with their bodyweight. This is a very good sight for me as a coach! Nothing more important for me than spreading the knowledge and making people achieve their potential. Therefore, I wrote this blog.
“Glute activation” has become a bit of a buzz term that can be overused or used incorrectly. However, in relatively complex movement patterns like sprints, loaded squats, and deadlift variations, a well timed and effective glute contraction can be hard to come by; especially if you haven’t put some work in an unloaded and less demanding position.
The following are some very simple drills that can be used to attain a solid gluteal contraction, slowly correcting some dysfunction (such as restricted hip extension range of motion), while reinforcing proper movement patterns.
In this video, I’m using a fit loop to give you a better result and activation. Keep in mind that these exercises still can be done without the fit loop. I prefer ankle weights because it gives better resistance. But ankle weights are usually heavy, expensive and huge. The fit loop is cheap, light and you can even put it in your pocket and do some glute activation while at a meeting…seriously. Do between 12-20 reps each side and do on one side for all 4 exercises before moving on to the other side.
The Clam This one is about as simple as it gets. With so much ground contact, one can really focus on an isolated motion at the hip, without having to focus so much on trunk control. In this position, you can hone in on your breath while maintaining a slight abdominal contraction throughout the entire movement. Relaxed breath + stable trunk + plus glute activation = movement pattern training and the beginning of something spectacular. This drill is a great place to start for absolutely anyone, and I really like to progress people to burning out to failure multiple times on each side.
Side lying leg raise with resisted extension The side leg raise primarily works the abductor muscle group, a group of muscles that are responsible for moving the thigh to the side of your body. These muscles are extremely important for daily activities and sports, and strengthening the abductors can make your movements more efficient. The side leg raise is also an effective exercise for toning the hip area. Perform this exercise while lying on your side. Begin by lying on your left side, with your body in a straight line from head to toe and your right hip directly above your left hip. Keep the bottom knee bent (the same position as the clam). Lift your right leg toward the ceiling and then return to the starting position. After doing your desired number of repetitions, perform the exercise with your left leg. Because of the nature of this position, you’ll be forced to use your gluteus maximus. This is good!
Glute Max Activation with Resisted Abduction Glute max activation exercise is one of my favourites because of its intensity. Abduction refers to a motion that pulls a structure or part away from the midline of the body. For instance, when the legs are splayed at the hip, such as a star jump or doing a split, the legs are abducted at the hip. Flip onto your belly. Lets go prone! Draw your belly in towards the ground to keep the lumbar extensors out of this movement, quads tight and knees locked while the toes pointing out, like a ballerina. Get the abductor max out of this movement, you will need to abduct a little bit. Meaning spread your legs to the side slightly. This will activate your gluteus medius, thanks to the resistance (the band). From there, get to an extension with a slight amount of abduction against the band. Squeeze and don’t abduct too much and bring your leg as high as you can and do not force higher. This will avoid pulling your lower back.
The Bridge Next and your last exercise in these series, flip back on your back. Line up your feet, knees and hips. Bend the knees. Squeeze your glutes and go up tall. Keep the feet planted to the ground, maintain the position at the top while pushing the knees against the resistance (band). Do not over hyperextend your back instead tilt your pelvic and keep squeezing the glutes. Hold at the top and bring down slowly and repeat!
That is it guys. Give it a go and let me know how you feel. Those buns will burn and activated like there’s no tomorrow.