Glute Activation Exercises for Injury Prevention

What exactly is glute activation, and why is it important?

For starters, your glutes are the biggest group of muscles on your entire body. They are quite important as they allow you to rotate, abduct, and extend the hip which makes them critical for movement.

Glute activation is necessary as many people have weak glute muscles. These muscles often remain dormant because of a sedentary lifestyle. These days most jobs have people sitting down to work. As a result their glutes become weak and other muscles compensate.

Glute activation is necessary because of their dormant state. Getting your glutes to wake up means that they’ll be used during physical activity. The goal when working out is a mind-body connection that can be transferred into your workout.

Glute Activation Exercises

Glute Bridge

A glute bridge can be done as a body-weight exercise or with added weight.

How to perform a glute bridge:

  1. Get a yoga mat and lay your head and shoulders flat on the mat.
  2. Let your arms lay parallel to your torso.
  3. Lift your hips by using the power of your glutes.
  4. Let your glutes do all the work and don’t hyper-extend your lower back. Focus on squeezing your glutes at the top of the range of motion.
  5. Remain in this position for 5 seconds and repeat.

Posterior Planks

Posterior planks are great for your glutes, as well as your chest and hips . It is a form of static stretching that you can perform after your regular workout. It can be a bit challenging compared to the glute bridge, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

How to perform a posterior plank:

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you while your hands are placed firmly on the ground behind your butt.
  2. Ensure that your fingertips are pointing toward your butt or to the side.
  3. Lift your glutes off the ground and hold the position as long as you can.

If you’re a beginner to this exercise, it’s perfectly normal to only be able to hold the position for 5-10 seconds. Pain can also be felt in other areas like your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, etc. This is completely normal when doing this exercise. 

If you’re having trouble doing this exercise you can try to focus on pushing through your hands and heels which will force your hips and glutes off the ground. If you’re still having trouble, try to bend your knees a little so as to assist your glutes. Strive for performing the plank with good form as this stretch takes some time to learn. 

Clams

Commonly known as “resistance band glute activation exercise,” clams is another glute activation exercise that can do wonders not only for your glutes but also for other parts of your body.

Clams help with relieving hip injuries and lower back pain while toning your glutes at the same time. Clams can also be done at home or in a gym. 

How to perform clams:

  1. Put the band a bit below or above your knees and lie down on your side, propped up on your forearm. Ensure your head and forearm are neutral.
  2. Place your feet together stacking them on top of each other.
  3. Slightly bend your knees and slowly lift your top knee while keeping your feet together.

This exercise can be quite difficult at first. It’s easy to cheat by rocking the body back and forth when you open your legs. Don’t give up though! Focus on squeezing your glutes as you raise your knee.

Monster Steps

Last but not least, we have monster steps. It’s a fun exercise that’ll activate your glutes quickly.

How to perform monster steps:

  1. Place the resistance band around both of your legs.
  2. Make your first “monster step” forward and out to the side while only using one foot.
  3. Do the same with the other foot.
  4. Keep stepping and repeat if necessary.

When we say monster, we mean MONSTER steps. Imagine you’re a yeti in Nepal wandering around for lost adventurers to eat. Sick of going forward or out of room? Go backward to switch things up.

If you’re having trouble, put the resistance bands higher, and go lower as you become stronger. you can even go as far as your ankles. 

Performing a Glute Activation Test

Now that you’re done performing the exercises above, it’s time to test if your glutes are activated. Glute activation is essential before performing heavy lifts like a one rep max or a 5×5 routine.

Here’s how to perform the test:

  • Lay flat on a table.
  • With a partner pushing their fingers into your glutes, contract your glutes. 
    • If the fingers are pressed out then you pass the test.
    • If there is no finger movement and the quadriceps contract instead, the test fails.
  • The next thing to test is the strength of the hamstrings and the glutes. 
  • Have a partner press their fingers into your glutes and your hamstrings at the same time. 
  • Then raise the leg in question. The partner will be able to identify which muscle activates first. 
    • If it’s the glutes the test passes. 
    • If it’s the hamstring the test fails. You need to strengthen your glutes more.

Conclusion

Now you can see why the glutes have so much power. They’re a large muscle that’s largely under-worked. Whether you’re a competitive weight lifter, bodybuilder, or average Joe, the glutes are essential for preventing injury. Glute activation makes you a stronger competitor and keeps you safe in the gym.

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Featured image Eric Astrauskas credit shared under CC BY 2.0

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