Where are the Glutes?
Your ‘glutes’ or your gluteal muscles, as they are more formally known as 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). For many of us, the glutes remain ‘inactive’ much of the time. Inactive glutes can mean the muscles are weak and are not relied on as much as they should be during physical movements. Glute activation is essentially ‘firing up’ the glutes.
Causes for weak glutes
There can be many causes for weak glutes such as a sedentary lifestyle, sitting down a lot a work or sitting down a lot at home. Another contributing factor could be poor form with specific lifts which has you relying on other muscles rather than your glutes.
This means, even if you perform posterior exercises regularly, there is still a good chance that you might have weak glutes. The likelihood of this being true increases if you have not tried to actively work on activating the muscles in this area.
Why is having strong glutes important
Strong glutes play a big role and can have a major impact on your overall body strength. Your glutes support your core, support a range of exercises and compound movements which helps to avoid muscle imbalances which can lead to decreased mobility.
Under utilised glutes contribute to several health issues including poor posture, lower back pain, balance issues, lack of strength, muscle pain and can increase the risk of injury.
Glute activation exercises
It is important to activate or ‘fire up’ your glute muscles prior to exercise, just as it is important to warm up any muscle group before putting them through a workout. This can be as simple as performing a few activation movements prior to going for that run, or before a weight’s session.
Give these activation exercises a try:
Clams – 3×15-20 Reps
- 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.
- 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.
Crab Walk – 3x 15-20 Reps
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Glute Bridge – 3×15-20 Reps
- 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.
- 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.
- Inhale. Lower your pelvis to return to the starting position.
Band Hip Thrusts – 3×15-20 Reps
- Kneeling on a mat with a large band wrapped around your hips, shuffle forward to create resistance on the band. Squeeze the glutes as you are kneeling nice and tall ensuring that your knees are hip-width apart and your spine is neutral. Allow your arms to rest by your side.
- Exhale. Hinge at the hip whilst allowing your knees to bend further before returning to your starting position by squeezing and activating the glutes whilst maintaining the neutral spine throughout.
Aim to perform these exercises regularly before you workout, especially when your workout involves your lower body. If you can start getting this done prior to your workout, you will be making a big step to strengthening one of the most important areas of your body whilst greatly improving your chance of getting the results you hoped for.