The Art of Activating Your Glutes

Glute activation is not a new concept. Some of the best coaches have been hammering on about glute activation for years, but it is only until recently that everybody started listening.

The Art of Activating your GlutesGlute activation can bring about serious results, could eliminate a lot of postural issues and make you look really damn good in a pair of jeans!

Alongside the scientific research, I have empirical evidence that strength lifts activate this powerful muscle during unrelated lifts. Having a slight posterior tilt will also really help to protect your lower back in most things you do like standing in line for long periods of time and in the gym doing non-specific work like barbell curls.

The key to getting your glutes activated is in learning a proper hip hinge. Some people struggle with this move for many reasons:

Muscle tightness or restrictions (adhesions, neural hyperactivity etc.)

Weak gluteal muscles that place a greater demand on the legs, which ultimately take over.

Lack of body and muscle awareness.

Either way, aside from any possible neurological disorders or injuries, there are a couple of basic tips to get you focused on your derriere to make it stronger.

Your hip is what is called a ball and socket joint and should be able to move fluidly through all ranges of motion without impingement or pain. So the first thing you want to do is to get into the habit of regularly performing some hip mobility drills like my personal fave, cossacks. This is a pretty major factor in even being capable of performing the hip hinge. These types of exercises should be done during the warm-up period.

Performing variations of ankle and knee rolling is also essential as a proper hinge will affect all three joints.

During your warm-up you will want to wake up your butt so it is primed for the work to come and this is also a great time to actually close your eyes and really focus and feel the glutes working so you know where you should be feeling it during training.

Perform some glute activation work like butt bridges, bird dogs or side-lying hip abduction at the beginning of your workout. I also highly suggest that you do direct hinge work by simply doing air squats below parallel to a fully erect stance with a slight posterior tilt (squeeze your butt at the top to get the gist of what I mean). Having a wider-than-shoulder stance with a slight angle outward of your planted feet tends to help with this in beginners or those with some of the issues mentioned above.

Be sure that aside from mobility you also work some (extensibility) flexibility at the end of your workouts with some foam rolling to help with recovery and to prevent or somewhat treat any restrictions you may have.

Performing exercises in more than one plane of motion – a forward, lateral and reverse lunges, as well as unilateral work like pistol squats and one-legged deadlifts – will help to work the often under-appreciated glute medius muscles.

This may seem a no-brainer for many, but if you want to strengthen your butt specifically work on isolating it with resistance by performing some cable or machine donkey kicks. Just be sure you are not rolling over at the hip and that you are fully extending at the top. When performing your pressing movements, keep your weight mostly on your heels when pressing up from any exercise.

Finally, one of the best tips I can give is to flat out think about and pay attention to what you are doing and focus on your glutes during training.


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