Knowing how to activate your glutes is essential for not only athletic performance but also your daily life. The gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle in the body, yet as humans we don’t know how to activate it and use it effectively!! Weak glutes are a usually a consequence of the modern world. People spend too long sitting down meaning glute activation is reduced and the muscles become weaker and weaker. Often people who suffer from prolonged glute inactivation suffer from calf pain, pelvic (hip) alignment issues, knee buckling (when running or squatting), quad dominance and back pain. As you can see the glutes seem to affect everything! Although not a medical diagnosis, poor glute activation can affect our daily lives, so we should strive to rectify it. Hopefully this blog should help!

If you are struggling with some of the problems above and think it’s your glutes. It’s a great idea to speak to a specialised therapist as they will be able to tailor specific exercises to suit your specific problems. However, if you just want to make a start and give some glute activation exercises a go, try these!

How To Activate Your Glutes

  1. Glute bridge with pelvic tilt.

This is a challenging one, and surprisingly requires some involvement from your core. Most people have heard of a glute bridge. But what about turning on your “inner core” and changing the orientation of your pelvis (hips) while you do it. If you can master this, you will feel an intense squeeze in your glutes when performing the glute bridge.

To learn the pelvic tilt, lay on your back with knees bent and feet planted – as if you were doing a glute bridge. Now imagine someone has their hand underneath your lower back. You want to crush their hand so you will “pull your belly button to the floor,” engaging your core to do this but without performing an ab crunch (see picture). Try holding this for 3 seconds, then relaxing, performing this for 8 reps. Harder than you thought right!?

Once you’ve mastered that, repeat the whole process above, but begin to push through your feet so your hips raise of the floor. Keeping that inner core squeeze throughout the whole movement. Then you’ve performed a glute bridge with pelvic tilt!

2. Donkey Kicks

Donkey kicks are a popular exercise, but a lot of people still perform them wrong. These people are missing out on crucial glute activation!

When doing the donkey kick, instead of trying to get your foot as high and as far behind you as possible, focus on keeping the knee and ankle both at 90 degrees. With this ankle and knee position, squeeze your glutes as hard as you can and drive your leg to the sky. Try leading the movement with the ankle first. Imagine you’re trying to push something resting on the back of your foot to the sky, without it falling off – control is most important! Try not to arch your back, keep it in a nice neutral position. Don’t sacrifice form to get more range of motion, as soon as you feel that intense squeeze, STOP (See picture).

Make this harder by adding a resistance band (shown in picture).

For further advice or exercises on activating your glutes, speak to one of the tfd therapy team who will be more than happy to help!