Are you weak in the glutes? Make sure you’re properly activating this large muscle group during strength training with these tips from Jon-Erik Kawamoto.
Lifting weights can build a more resilient body and correct for muscle imbalances that tend to develop after months and years of swimming, biking, and running.
Routines that involve functional exercises such as deadlifts and squats can strengthen the legs and hips, if performed correctly. However, many runners are novices in the gym and cannot activate their glutes effectively when performing these exercises.
Here are 5 steps to effectively activate your glutes during strength training:
- 1. Open up those hip flexors
- 2. Learn how to pelvic tilt
- 3. Try the glute bridge
- 4. Try the Kneeling Band Hip Thrust
- 5. Apply your newly developed awareness during deadlifts and squats
- Glute Activation – 10 Must-Do Exercises
- Unlock Your Hips And Activate Your Glutes
- Butt Toning Exercises for When You’re Sitting Down
- How to Shape Up Your Butt While Sitting all Day in an Office
- 5 stretches for tight hips
- A better way to sit at your desk
1. Open up those hip flexors
Start each strength training session with the low band split squat. This exercise will strengthen your legs but will also provide your hip flexors with a wicked stretch. The hip flexor muscle group is commonly tight in runners and having optimal length in these muscles will facilitate better glute muscle activation.
How: Hold a handle of a band that is attached to a low anchor point with your right hand. Step back to remove slack from the band then take a large step back with your right leg. Land on your big toe joint, get tall and squeeze your right butt-cheek. Keep your arm straight and without loosing your butt squeeze, bring your right knee toward the ground. You should feel a burning stretch in front of your right hip and thigh. Pause just before your right knee touches the ground. Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds. Return to standing and perform 10 reps. Complete two sets per leg. See a video here.
2. Learn how to pelvic tilt
In order to activate your glutes effectively, you need to have developed the body awareness to be able to rotate your pelvis (see a video here.) The pelvis can rotate forward (anteriorly) or backward (posteriorly). If you rotate your pelvis forward, your low back arch will increase in curvature and if you rotate backward your low back will flatten out. To activate the glute muscles effectively, you need to rotate your pelvis backwards. This position is how you want to finish all deadlifts and squats.
3. Try the glute bridge
After you have lengthened your hip flexors and have developed the body awareness to be able to rotate your pelvis, give the glute bridge a try. (See a video here.)
How: To perform the glute bridge, place a band around your knees and lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the ground and form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Backward tilt your pelvis and squeeze your butt. Push your knees out into the band to further activate your glute muscles. Hold this position for 10 seconds and perform 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps each. You should not feel this exercise in your thighs, hamstrings groin or low back.
4. Try the Kneeling Band Hip Thrust
The next step is to learn how to activate your glute muscles in the upright position. The kneeling band hip thrust is the best exercise to teach how the glute muscles extend your hips, just as they would during the execution of a deadlift or squat.
How: To perform the kneeling band hip thrust, anchor a circular band around a post and walk inside it. Place the band around your hips and kneel on a mat or exercise pad. Get tall, tilt your pelvis backward and squeeze your butt. Bow forward via your hips (a.k.a. hip hinge) while keeping your chest out and back flat. Return to the upright position and push your hips forward into the band. Perform several reps of this movement and feel and learn how the glute muscles are working to extend your hips and bring you upright. This glute muscle contraction is identical to how the glute muscles work to extend your hips in deadlifts and squats. Perform 2-3 sets of 20 reps.
5. Apply your newly developed awareness during deadlifts and squats
Now that you have better body awareness and a good feel for how your glute muscles extend your hips, apply your newly acquired knowledge to the deadlift and squat. Learn how to deadlift here.
How: Load a barbell so that it sits roughly 9” off the ground—45-pound plates or lighter bumper plates (they have the same diameter). To perform a conventional deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Crouch down and grab the bar with a double overhand grip to the outside of your shins. Keep most of the weight on your heels and push your hips back and chest out. Pin your shoulders back and feel a neutral curve in your low back.
Roll the bar close to your shins, which should be almost vertical at this point. Brace your abs and tighten your upper back muscles (e.g. latissimus dorsi) to anchor your shoulders in place. Stand with the bar by simultaneously extending your knees and hips. Finish the lift by standing tall with your butt squeeze. Do not lean back excessively or hyperextend your low back. Soften your knees, slide the bar down your thighs and once you pass your knees, sit the bar back to the floor. Place the bar on the ground and reset your body position in preparation for the next repetition.
Glute Activation – 10 Must-Do Exercises
Last Updated on July 17, 2017
Many of the AMAZING glute activation exercises that we should all be doing are those funny looking moves that Jane Fonda used to do in her leotard with ankle weights.
They are the moves that most people, especially guys, avoid.
However, everyone from the professional athlete to the guy or gal sitting behind the desk for 9 hours a day, should do those funny looking glute activation moves!
By activating your glutes, you reduce your risk of injury and can even alleviate the back pain you may be suffering from because of sitting hunched over all day.
You can also improve your speed, lift more and have strong, sexy legs all by doing those stupid looking moves.
Glute activation exercises should be included in your warm up to get your butt ready and activated for the bigger exercises you plan to do in your workout so that your low back doesn’t try and take over.
They can also be included in your actual workout to make sure your glutes continue to work.
Below are 10 Must-Do Glute Activation Exercises:
1. Glute Bridge – The glute bridge is a versatile move that can be used for activation as well as developing great glute strength. It is a great move to strengthen your glutes and open up your hips. You can do it with just your own bodyweight or even add weight! A great variation of the glute bridge for activation is the mini band glute bridge shown below. Just make sure that as you do the glute bridge, you don’t hyperextend your low back to get your hips up higher. You want your glutes to really have to work to raise your hips up.
If you are using the glute bridge for activation, make sure to slow down the tempo and even hold for a few seconds at the top of the bridge.
for the basic glute bridge, which is great for activation, as well as some other variations like the Bridge with Curl or Barbell Hip Thruster that are great strength moves.
Another great glute bridge variation to use in your warm up is the Thoracic Bridge. This move activates your glutes while also stretching your thoracic spine. Below is the Sit Thru to Thoracic Bridge. To learn how to do this great bridge variations, .
2. Donkey Kick – This move will wake up your entire core, activating your glutes and warming up your abs and shoulders.
To do the donkey kick, start on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Flex your feet.
Then keeping the knee bent close to 90 and the foot flexed, kick one leg back and drive the heel up toward the ceiling. Don’t let the low back arch and make sure you draw your belly button in toward your spine. Make sure that as you lift you are squeezing the glute of the leg you are raising.
The foot should drive straight up to the ceiling and the knee shouldn’t flare out. Do not let your elbows bend to get the leg higher. Hold at the top and squeeze the glute then lower and repeat. Make sure you are driving straight back and that the knee of the raised leg is bent to 90 and isn’t flaring in or out.
There is no need to weight down this move if you are using it in your warm up, although you can if you really want to use it to develop strength. To get the most out of this activation move, hold at the top for 2-5 seconds. Do not rush through the reps.
3. Fire Hydrant – The fire hydrant is a great way to wake up the glute medius, which is a critical muscle for maintaining balance and preventing knee and ankle injuries. Strengthening your glute medius will also improve your hip’s stability as well as help you run faster and change direction more quickly.
To do the fire hydrant, place your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Flex your feet and keep both your feet flexed even as you raise one leg.
Then raise one leg out to the side, keeping the knee bent to 90 degrees. Lift it as high as you can while keeping your arms straight. Try to not let the foot get higher than the knee or the knee get higher than the foot. Really squeeze the butt cheek as you lift.
Hold for a second or two at the top. Lower down and then repeat. Complete all reps on one side before switching.
4. Hip Circles – This move combines the donkey kick with the fire hydrant while also adding in a great ab activation movement. To prevent and even ease your low back pain, you need your glutes AND your abs to be active. This move activates both.
To do hip circles, setup on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Flex your feet.
Then drive one heel back toward the ceiling, keeping the knee bent to 90 and the foot flexed (this is the donkey kick). Then without lowering to the ground, bring that same leg out to the side, keeping the knee bent to 90 and the foot flexed. It should look like the top of the fire hydrant move.
Then without setting the knee down, drive it forward into the elbow. Keep the foot flexed the entire time and your elbows straight. When you drive into the elbow, you should really feel your abs engage. Then lower the knee down and repeat.
5. Posterior Plank – The posterior plank is a great glute activation move as well as a great stretch for your chest and hips. This is a tougher move because your legs are out straight. You can also regress this move by bending your knees and bringing your feet in closer to your butt.
To do the posterior plank, start seated on the ground with your legs out straight in front of you and your hands on the ground behind your butt. Your fingertips should be pointing toward your butt or out to the side.
Drive through your hands and heels and raise your hips up off the ground toward the ceiling, keeping your legs straight. Press your chest up and out as you raise your hips. Keep your legs straight as you bridge up and relax your head back. Your body should be in a nice straight line at the top.
Beginners may need to bend their legs a bit to hold the bridge at the top. Hold for a few seconds and then lower back down and repeat.
6. Band Monster Walks and Side Shuffle – Mini bands are a great tool to activate your glutes from every angle. Two of my favorite moves are the Monster Walks and Side Shuffle since they hit everything. If you even just include these two moves in your warm up, you are good to go in terms of glute activation!
The key with both of these moves is to keep your feet apart and the band tight. To make it easier, put the band around your knees. To make it harder, put the band around your feet. Do not let your knees cave in as you walk or your glutes won’t be forced to work.
for these two moves as well as other great mini band activation exercises (like the clams below)!
7. Clams – This is another move to isolate the glute medius. This move is commonly used by people rehabbing hip injuries and low back pain BUT it is also a great move to activate the glutes and PREVENT those problems!
You can do this move without a mini band, however, the mini band does provide resistance. You can also push down with your own hand if you don’t have a band.
For tips on how to do the clam, !
8. Bird Dog – This is a great core stabilizer exercise. It wakes up everything from your shoulders to your knees.
The key with the bird dog is to move slowly. You can add a band connecting your hand to your heel if you want to add resistance.
You can also advance the bird dog by doing this from the push up position instead of from your hands and knees.
To do the basic bird dog, place your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Flex your feet.
Kick one leg out straight back as if kicking it into the wall behind you while you reach the other arm out straight toward the wall in front of your head (reaching opposite arm and opposite leg in opposite directions). Don’t worry about lifting your leg or arm up high.
Really try to drive your arm and leg toward opposite walls. Squeeze your glutes and keep your belly button pulled in toward your spine.
As you lower your arm and leg, bend them and bring them together under your body. Try to touch your knee to your elbow before extending back out.
Repeat all reps on one side before switching to the other side. All reps should be done in a slow and controlled manner. You should even hold for a second or two at the top of the move.
9. Reverse Hypers (Single Leg Reverse Hypers) – Reverse Hypers are a great move to activate the glutes and strengthen them. I often use these in my workouts paired with a bigger, compound lift.
To do the basic two-leg reverse hyper, lie face down on a table, bench or box. Make sure your hips are right at the edge. Hold on to something in front of you if you want. Keep your upper body relaxed. Squeeze your legs together and point your toes out a bit if you are having trouble activating your glutes. Lift your legs to basically parallel to the ground, keeping your legs straight. Do not hyperextend your back and lift way higher than parallel. You do not want to feel this in your low back. Hold for 2-5 seconds and then lower down. Keep your core tight and really squeeze your glutes as you lift.
The two-leg reverse hyper can also be done from the ground, however, I prefer to do a single-leg reverse hyper (or lying kickback) from the ground.
I actually like doing the single-leg reverse hyper with a mini band, which is pictured below.
10. Side Plank with Leg Lift – You wouldn’t think of a plank as a glute activation exercise, necessarily, but it is. Especially a side plank with a leg lift!
The side plank with leg lift is an advanced move. You can regress this move and do a lying abductor lift.
To do the lying abductor lift, place the band around your ankle and lie on your side on the ground. You can support your head in your hand while lying on your side and place the other hand in front of you on the ground. Stack your feet on top of each other and then lift your top leg straight up as high as you can.
Do not lean forward or backward or let your hips rotate forward or backward. Keep your core engaged as you lift. Also, keep the foot that you lift parallel to the one on the ground. If you rotate the toe up toward the ceiling, you will be working your external rotators, which is a great variation that you can also include.
To do the side plank with leg raise, set up on your side. Prop yourself up with your forearm right below your shoulder (or your hand to advance the move) and stack your feet one on top of the other. Then lift your bottom hip up off the ground as high as possible while keeping your body in a nice straight line. Squeeze your belly button in toward your spine and keep your glutes tight.
Do not let your chest rotate forward toward the ground or your top hand touch the ground. Keep your top hand on your hip or reach it up toward the ceiling. Then lift and lower the top leg up toward the ceiling, keeping the bottom hip up and the body in a nice straight line. Even as you lift, do not let your chest rotate toward the ground. You can lift and lower straight back down or you can lift and then lower to touch the ground behind you and then in front of you.
Below are some workouts and warm ups using these 10 glute activation moves:
- Get Stronger Legs with Knee Pain
- A Great Warm Up for Cyclists
- Full Body Warm Up
- The Great Glutes Workout
NOTES: Do not use all of these moves with every single workout. Pick and choose just a couple to include with warm up and even during the workout. Doing all of them every workout may actually hinder your results.
Chances are, you’ve heard how sitting all day is bad for your heart (and waistline). Turns out, sitting also causes big problems for your butt. While gluteal amnesia may sound like a spell that Harry Potter learned at Hogwarts, it’s a very real condition—and pretty prevalent these days, thanks to our sedentary lifestyles and jobs that tie us to a desk or driver’s seat from 9 to 5 (if not longer).
Gluteal amnesia, or “dead butt syndrome,” happens when your glutes “forget” how to activate properly.
Sitting all day is the main culprit, Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise, tells SELF. But it’s more accurate to blame an unfortunate side effect of parking your butt in a chair all day: tight hip flexors. “When you sit a lot, the hip flexor gets shortened and tighter, which leads to the butt muscles not firing or working as optimally as they should,” Chris Kolba, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., physical therapist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF.
This happens through a process known as reciprocal inhibition, which can occur in any opposing muscle groups in your body. “Reciprocal inhibition occurs when tightness in one muscle creates length in the muscle on the opposite side of the joint ,” McCall explains. If this occurs for too long, the process that tells the lengthened muscle to activate—specifically, the neurons that fire and signal the muscle fibers to contract—is compromised. In other words, when your hip flexors get super tight, your gluteal muscles become lengthened and desensitized, and won’t generate much force (or “turn on”) when you try to engage them.
“Prolonged sitting can also create a ‘laminating effect’ between the muscle fibers, in which the continual compression of the tissue causes them to get tacked down, losing their elasticity and ability to contract optimally,” Kolba explains.
Unfortunately, no one’s immune to this condition, even if you work out frequently.
Because of the less than perfect posture most of us have when we’re sitting—shoulders slumped, lower back rounded, core disengaged—it’s very possible to go all day long without activating your glutes, Sara Lewis, celebrity trainer and founder of XO Fitness in L.A., tells SELF.
And certain workouts can actually exacerbate hip tightness, instead of help. “The repetitive nature of running or cycling can lend itself to tightness in the hip flexors, too,” Kolba says.
“I can say that the majority of my clients presented some level of glute amnesia when they first started training,” Kira Stokes, a NASM-certified celebrity trainer and creator of the Stoked Method, tells SELF. “Running or cycling are better than sitting, of course, but they’re mostly quad-dominant workouts, so you still need to give your glutes some extra TLC.”
If your glutes don’t do their job correctly, the rest of your body may pay for it.
The gluteal muscles (a group of three muscles that make up the buttocks) help power us through so many activities, from walking and carrying heavy things, to performing both cardio and strength exercises. When your glutes lose strength, other muscle groups in your back and lower body are forced to take on the extra work to compensate, setting you up for issues such as lower back, hip, or knee pain, Kolba says. It can also lead to muscle imbalances throughout your body and other lower body injuries, adds Stokes.
Gluteal amnesia itself shouldn’t cause you any pain, but over time, if left untreated, weak glutes could contribute to other strains and pains. “If the glute muscles are not working efficiently or to their max capacity, then other muscles or areas will be subject to more stress/work, eventually leading to symptoms,” says Kolba.
There are a few simple ways to test for gluteal amnesia.
Stand up in a neutral position and imagine you’re wearing a belt. “If your belt line drops toward the front, it means you have an anterior pelvic tilt, which signifies you aren’t contracting your glutes properly,” Stokes says. If your glutes were engaged correctly, your belt line would be parallel to the floor. Another quick test: Lie faceup on the ground, placing your hands under your butt. Try to “squeeze” your right butt cheek and then left butt cheek. You should be able to feel your glutes engage.
The Bushman’s Buttocks: A Lesson to be Learned!
Pictured below you see a side view of a Kalahari Bushman, and of a western man with a “Swayback”. There are a number of postural and muscular comparisons to make. The key one that I wish to point out is the massive (!!!!!) difference in gluteal musculature between the Bushman and the western man.
This is not just some ivory tower academic observation! The Westerner’s Gluteals are woefully underdeveloped, with drastic consequences in terms of pain and poor function in the following locations:-
- The lumbar spine and sacral region.
- The hip region.
- The lower leg.
If you have pain in any of these locations, then this article will benefit you!
With the help of this article, you will observe or experience:-
- The difference in gluteal development between western man and “primitive” man, (what do I mean by “primitive”?)
- An analysis of photographic evidence relating gluteal development to “barefoot” walking and running.
- The demonstration in your own body of two major ways in which posture and movement differ between modern western man and “primitive man”. Involves:-
- removing your shoes and walking/running.
- latrine squatting.
gluteus maximus work outs.
You don’t need to do rigorous Gluteus maximus work outs -Just engage Gluteus maximus as you walk, run and sit!
Firstly, I acknowledge that there is a genetic component to the Bushman’s gluteals. (Refer: “Steatopygia” also “Social & Clinical Comments” . But it is the behavioural component of “Bushman’s gluteals” that I wish emphasize here. After all, we cannot change our genes, but we can change our behaviour!
The large gluteals in the bushman are due to two identifiable causes
- Bare-foot walking
- Routine squatting while at work.
Both of these will be discussed with special emphasis on the lessons that can be learned about modern western musculo-skeletal health.
1. Bare-foot Walking
The bushman wears no shoes during his daily routine, while western man wears very comfortable shoes, and has done so ever since modern plastics replaced old fashioned and unyielding shoe leather. Evidence that bare-foot walking and running develops the gluteals will now be presented.
| Take a look at the picture of Zola Budd-Pieterse during her embarrassing 3,000 meter race at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. She was booed home in the event after American favourite Mary Decker tripped on Budd’s heel and fell. A tearful Budd finished seventh in this, her debut Olympic event. At that time, she was a victim of vehement Anti-Apartheid demonstration. She was later to became 5,000 meter world record holder.
Zola is running bare foot. The very first thing we notice about Zola is that she has an extremely wiry build even for an endurance athlete.
A Traumatic Moment: Zola Budd and Mary Decker at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics
But note also Zola’s relative lack of hamstring development when compared with the unfortunate Mary Decker, who is falling to the ground. Note also that Zola’s buttock (gluteal) region is the one anatomical part of her that is well developed when compared to her more amply built competitors. This one picture, though not perfect, gives graphic evidence that bare foot running develops the gluteal musculature, while comfortable footed running develops the hamstrings.
|Now check out the old-fashioned footwear and muscular development of this more stoutly built Finnish athlete:- He has none-padded running shoes, “poorly” developed hamstrings, and an obviously well filled out gluteal. He is not running bare foot, but his hard bottomed shoes are not pampering him either. This picture gives evidence that hard shoeing, and not just bare-footedness promotes gluteal development over hamstring development. You have now seen the photographic evidence that bare-footedness is associated with gluteal development. The following exercises give you the opportunity to experience the bushman style of walking that develops those impressive gluteal muscles.||
Finnish Olympian:- Note the hard old fashioned running shoes and the well developed gluteal muscles.
| The Barefoot Walking Exercise:-
(Learning to engage Gluteus Maximus at heel strike).
This learning exercise is worth getting right. It taught me to regain pain free hip movement, and it can teach you similar things. Find a rough road surface, preferably with loose stones on it (for safety’s sake, and also for modesty, make it a quiet stretch of road!).
|Before we start, you need to know just where the Gluteus maximus is:-
||And you need to know how to tell if it is engaging: just place the fingers over the sit bone as per diagram below (don’t do this while someone is watching!):-
|(1) Walk with your shoes on and in a sway back posture: Adopt a “swayback” posture (see diagram) by locking your knees and leaning slightly backwards. Now place your fingers over your gluteus maximus, and start walking. The gluteus will tend not to engage upon heel strike as it should. (Don’t make a habit of this style of walking. I did, and it caused me a lot of pain).|
|(2) Now walk with your shoes on in your normal posture: Place your fingers over your gluteus maximus, and start walking. Note whether the gluteus engages upon heel strike. Your gluteus may or may not engage. If it does, that’s good, your habitual posture is not “swayed back” as in the diagram to the right:-|
|(3) Now walk with your shoes off: (For the sake of this exercise, it is best to do it on sharp, painful stones – The more painful the better!) Place your fingers over your gluteus maximus, and start walking. Note whether the gluteus tenses upon heel strike. (If the surface is painful enough, the gluteus will indeed engage- and very strongly so too). Congratulations! You have now discovered the basic walking pattern of the bushman! His buttocks prove that barefoot walking/engaging Gluteus maximus is better than any Gluteus maximus work outs.|
| (4) Now put your comfortable shoes back on: Practice walking by engaging gluteus maximus at heel strike. Note what happens to your posture and the way your foot lands. By engaging Gluteus maximus at heel strike, you will (to some extent) be walking as though you were bare foot. Keep walking and running with gluteus maximus engaging at heel strike, and you too may develop those amazing bushman “glutes”- (assuming you want that of course!). Seriously though, you will be minimizing the risk of a multitude of repetitive stress injuries.
Now just to round off the lesson:
Whether you walk bare-foot on rough stones, or whether you strongly engage Gluteus maximus at heel strike, the same things happen to your body positioning:-
At the moment of shock loading when the foot lands, many joints are positioned closer to their mid-range of movement. According to OBP theory (Definition and in depth discussion….), this mid range of movement at the moment of “heel-strike” lets the muscles adopt their optimum length to absorb and handle shock loading. Just a few of the multiple benefits of bare-foot-walking/engaged Gluteus maximus will be discussed further, but before that we need to rediscover the other major movement pattern of the Gluteus maximus.
2. The Latrine Squat
The following quote is from Physiotherapist Wayne Milicich(2):-
“Back pain is rare in the cultures of Africa and Asia where they do not use the western chair. They squat flat-footed. It is not the chair that is creating the problem, but our lack of utilizing natural movement patterns such as the Flat-footed Squat in other situations”.(2) “Latrine squatting” is the second movement pattern that the bushman routinely adopts but which the westerner does not. See next Exercise!
The “Latrine Squat”:-
(Working the Gluteus maximus over its longer range)
- Place your fingers over the Gluteus maximus.(Not shown in picture).
- Lower yourself toward the ground, keeping your torso and tibias more or less parallel to each other.
- Note when your gluteals are engaging.
- Maintain slight tension in the Glute’, and try squatting for a minute or more!
- The latrine squat gets the Gluteus maximus to do work over its longer range, and at its full extent (when you are fully squatting), gives it a “stretch”.
- You may not be able to lower yourself all the way, and that is OK. There is an alternative exercise to latrine squatting- see “Rest Position” in the EasyVigour Pilates library.
- You may find it a help if you place a one inch board under your heels.
- What feels strange to you is in fact very normal and natural to the “Primitive” (See picture). So don’t be put off. If he can do it, you can do it! Squatting is one of the essential gluteus maximus work outs!
(Note: This section is somewhat technical. So you may choose to ignore it or skim through quickly).
Let’s just recap what we have learned so far:- We know that “primitive” man has large buttocks, whereas western man has comparatively atrophied buttocks. We have performed a couple of gluteus maximus work outs that prove that Bare-foot walking increases Gluteal muscle activity. We have performed the latrine squat, and again experienced the Gluteus maximus in action, but this time working through a longer (more stretched) range.
These simple differences in habitual usage patterns of the gluteals have huge significance: The knowledge that I have on this subject has helped me to regain pain free movement. I want to share that knowledge with you!
Six pages Follow:-
- Gluteus maximus in the role of back stabilizer
- Gluteus maximus in the role of hip joint stabilizer
- Gluteus maximus in the role of lower leg “positional optimizer”
- The Gluteus maximus – “Social & Clinical Discussion”; Gluteus maximus – “Steatopygia”
- Gluteus maximus Success Story: – Pain Free Bare Foot Running in 3 Months
- Gluteus maximus, Cure for Piriformis Syndrome
- Next page…
Convinced you need exercises to build the Gluteus maximus? – Click here to search the web:-
Gluteus maximus work outs
Gluteus maximus exercises
Engage Gluteus maximus!
© Bruce Thomson, EasyVigour Project
Unlock Your Hips And Activate Your Glutes
We’ve all know that we sit too much during the day and that sitting may be killing us.
And while moving more is important, your movement needs to REVERSE the effects of sitting.
You’ve got to make sure that you loosen tight muscles and get those muscles that become weak and inactive from sitting activated and working correctly again.
This is why I constant harp on improving hip mobility AND working on glute activation!
If you sit a lot during the day, your hips are tight from being in constant flexion (aka bent!). This tightness causes your glutes to often shut off, which means all of that squatting and lunging and deadlifting may not actually be working those butt cheeks!
It may mean you’re actually potentially risking pain and injury because other muscles are engaging and working so that you can squat and deadlift and lunge. Muscles that SHOULDN’T and CAN’T really handle the load!
Wonder why your low back so often hurts? Or why you only feel your quads during some of these compound moves?
It may be because your glutes aren’t actually working and engaging because they aren’t activated! And why aren’t they activated?
Because your hips are locked up!
To unlock your hips and activate your glutes, I like to do these 3 moves basically DAILY!
(And if you are looking for a complete program to unlock those hips and activate those glutes check out this AMAZING one – Unlock Your Hip Flexors!)
Half-Kneeling Hip (and Quad!) Stretch – I do this stretch as often as possible. It is the perfect way to reverse the effects of sitting and even start to activate your glutes. You can do a few different variations and hit your hips from a couple of different angles and even really stretch out your quad as well.
One HUGE key though to getting this stretch to actually work though is ENGAGING YOUR GLUTE! Too often people do this and don’t ACTUAL extend their hip because they lean forward or simply arch their low back.
If you don’t engage your glute and actually focus on extending your hip, guess what?! You don’t actually unlock your hips and you don’t really reverse all of the effects of sitting!
So no matter which version you pick, make sure to truly engage your glute and extend your hip and not simply your low back. If you are starting out, the version below is a great place to start! From there you can add in the quad stretch by grabbing your back foot or placing it up on a bench.
To do the Basic Half-Kneeling Hip Stretch, start half kneeling on the ground. Flex your back foot and squeeze your glute as you drive your back hip forward. Reach your hand up overhead so that you feel a nice stretch down the hip of the back leg. You can reach both hands up or simply the hand on the side that is back.
Squeeze the glute of your back leg so that you are actually fully extending your back hip and not simply arching your back. If you just hyperextend your low back, you will just be perpetuating the problem. Make sure you are truly extending your hip.
Breathe as you hold and reach your hands backward overhead or turn this into a dynamic stretch by releasing and then repeating the stretch.
You can also reach your arms to the side over your front leg if you want to hit your hip from a different angle and stretch your TFL and even the muscles of your back that help you bend to the side.
Leg Swings – If you ask any of my in-person clients, they’ll tell you I make them do this one basically daily along with the Half-Kneeling Hip Stretch. I LOVE this one because it not only works on balance and activates the muscles that stabilize your feet and lower legs, but it also wakes up your core, activates your glutes AND opens up your hips.
And it does all of these things in different planes of motion, which means you’ll be mobilizing your hips so you can move well in every direction!
There are three main variations of the Leg Swing I use; however, you can really swing in any direction. Just make sure to really engage the glute of the standing leg to help you balance and even use the glute of the other legs to swing, especially on the rotational one!
To do the 3-Way Leg Swings, start standing on one foot. Feel your foot gripping the ground and engage the glute of the standing leg to help you balance. Brace your abs and stand up nice and tall.
Keeping both legs fairly straight, but not locked out, begin to swing the other leg forward and backward. Swing from the hip, don’t just bend your knee and kick your lower leg. The bigger your swings are, the more your standing leg will have to work to balance.
Do not hold on to anything as you do this move. If you need to at the beginning, just perform smaller swings and tap your foot down as needed to reset and stabilize. You can hold onto a wall if you want to remove the balance element and instead just focus on mobilizing the hip, but remember that you are then taking out balance work and even building some extra core stability.
Complete all reps of the forward/backward swing then, still balancing on the same leg, switch to lateral swings. For the lateral swings, swing the leg up to the right and then to the left in front of your standing leg. You may even feel the outside of that glute working to raise the leg up as you swing it. The bigger your swing, the more you will open up your hip and force your standing leg to work hard to balance.
After performing the lateral swings, bend the knee of the leg you’ve been swinging to 90 degrees and perform rotational swing.
To do rotational swings, bring the bent knee in front of you and then open it out to the side. Bring the knee back forward, keeping the leg bent the entire time. Really focus on opening from the hip with this move. You should really feel the glute of the standing leg working as you rotate. The more your rotate, the harder the move will be, but also the more you will open your hips and get your glutes activated.
Once you complete all three swings, switch to the other side and do all three swings.
If you do this move correctly, you will feel your foot, calf and even your shin muscles working to balance. You will also feel your glute and core engaging as you swing your leg to open your hip.
Again start with a more basic balancing pose if you can’t maintain balance or perform smaller swings. The whole point of this move is to improve your mind-body connection and get things activated so you can balance.
Bridging – I don’t care if you do a Camel Bridge, Tabletop Bridge, Basic Glute Bridge or any other variation of the Bridge…If you aren’t doing some sort of bridge almost daily, you are missing out on a great chance to not only improve your hip extension but also activate your glutes!
Unlocking your hip flexors and keeping them unlocked isn’t only about stretching. Because if you stretch and then go right back and sit, you’ll simply tighten everything back up.
BUT if you actually get the muscles activated and working and STRENGTHEN through the range of motion you’ve established, you can actually improve your mobility, unlock your hip flexors and prevent and alleviate low back and hip pain (as well as even knee pain among other things!).
No matter how advanced an exerciser you are, you should always include a Basic BODYWEIGHT Glute Bridge in your routine…I know I do.
A. Because it is important to always return to basics and establish/maintain your mind-body connection.
B. Because with bodyweight exercises we are often actually able to contract our glutes harder AKA really make sure they are activated and working correctly!
Just a refresher on that Basic Bodyweight Glute Bridge…
To do the Basic Glute Bridge, lie on your back and bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. You may need to adjust your exact foot positioning based on how tight or mobile your hips are. You can move your feet slightly away or slightly closer to your butt, but just make sure you don’t move them so far away that you feel your hamstrings taking over.
Bend your elbows to 90 degrees so that only your upper arms are on the ground. This will help you really be able to drive down with your elbows, upper arms and back to help you bridge straight up instead of pushing yourself backward.
Then bridge up, driving through your heels and upper back and arms to lift your glutes up off the ground. Drive your hips up as high as possible, squeezing your glutes hard as you brace your abs. Keep your belly button drawn in so you don’t hyperextend your back. Focus and consciously squeeze your glutes at the top.
When you bridge, do not push backward off your heels. Make sure you are driving straight up and that your knees aren’t caving in. Even think about driving your knees forward over your toes to help extend your hips and prevent you from pushing yourself backward.
Squeeze your glutes for second or two at the top and lower all the way back down to the ground before repeating. Do not rush through the move.
OH and I also want to mention…Glute Activation and unlocking your hip flexors not only means reversing the effects of sitting so you prevent and alleviate injury and can lift more and run faster…
But it can also help with that LOWER BELLY POOCH!
Did you know that tight hip flexors can actually contribute to that hard to get rid of lower belly pooch!?! Well they can!
All the more reason to unlock those hips and get those booty cheeks working correctly.
For some essential flows and movements you NEED to be including in your workout routine, check out this program – Unlock Your Hip Flexors!
If you’ve been walking with me this week my blog won’t be a surprise: it’s all about the most powerful set of muscles in our body – the gluteals.
What are they?
Our glutes are a set of three muscles located in the buttocks, the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. All three work together to move the hip and thigh which means that they’re involved with practically every action involving the lower body – walking, sitting and climbing stairs to name a few. They stabilise the pelvis and spine, prevent injury, enable you to walk faster and help you look good in your jeans (just ask Kim Kardashian).
Why should we care about them
The glutes are an incredibly important set of muscles and if they are not working properly our clever bodies reroute and get other muscles such as our back, thighs and hamstrings to do the work instead. Obviously they’re not designed for this job so it causes all sorts of problems, from back ache to knee and foot problems and even shoulder and shin pains.
You would think that a muscle that we use so much would always work properly, but therein lies the problem. The glutes are a like a grumpy teenager – they switch off easily, once asleep are difficult to wake and even if awake they might not function correctly. Sitting down for long periods, previous injury, postural imbalances or sheer structural issues like having one leg longer than the other can all impact on how well our glutes work.
How can you tell if your glutes aren’t working properly?
The bottom line is that it’s not always possible to self-diagnose whether or not your glutes are functioning fully. To do this you would need to go to a physio or other health professional who could run a series of functional tests. However, there’s a fun little test you can do by yourself which goes like this:
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, tummy pulled in, hands on your bottom.
- Squeeze one buttock and then the other (you should feel your hand move when it tightens).
What happened? Could you squeeze each buttock in isolation or did the other want to join in as well? Were both sides as strong or could you squeeze one side better than the other? Even if you could isolate each buttock it doesn’t mean that they will perform properly when you start to move.
How can you strengthen your glutes?
There is a whole raft of exercises that personal trainers and physios use to reactivate and strengthen glutes. They include exercises that you will probably have heard of such as single leg squats and lunges plus exercises that might be new to you, like ‘clams’ and ‘bridges’. We often focus on glute strengthening exercises during our Nordic walking workout classes as we know the importance of a pert buttock! In our regular Nordic walking classes useful exercises which we often include are:
- single leg grass wipes where you stand on one leg and scrape the grass with your other foot, much like if you were wiping dog mess off sole of your shoe (keep your leg straight though)
- single leg pulses, again where you stand on one leg and pulse the other leg backwards so that your glutes engage and switch on
- the Ros Tigger Bounce (at least that’s what I call it) where you push off with your toe upwards at the end of your heel/toe roll
- hip ‘opening’ drills to stretch the hip flexors and enable the glutes to do their job.
The good news is that you don’t have to be Nordic walking to do these exercises – they can be done at home or whenever you walk. Right now even!
Do you want a firmer, more perky looking backside, but don’t have to the time to work on it while at work? Here are 5 butt toning exercises you can do that will tone your buttocks while sitting in your chair working.
Butt Toning Exercises for When You’re Sitting Down
There are several great tricks you can use to reduce the amount of time your are sitting, but you can also make the most of your seated time at work with these great butt toning exercises. We could all use a little help keeping our backend fit!
The Buttock Squeeze
To perform this exercise while sitting in your chair, just squeeze the cheeks of your butt together and release.
To make the exercise a little more difficult, squeeze and hold for as long as you can. Use a goal of holding a squeeze for one minute as a guide.
While the Butt Squeeze is the main exercise, there are several other exercises you can do while doing it, including:
While sitting in your chair with your left leg bent and butt cheeks squeezed, straighten out your right leg. Start by making small circles to the right with your straightened leg. Over the course of 15 seconds, gradually make the circles bigger.
Using the same leg, now switch directions and do the same thing for another 15 seconds.
Release your butt squeeze, bend the right leg and straighten out your left leg. Again squeeze your butt cheeks and repeat the exercise sequence for 30 seconds.
Squeeze your butt cheeks and lift one leg slightly off of the floor. Tilt your toes down until they are just touching the floor. Now simulate painting as many letters of the alphabet as you can with your toes while holding the butt squeeze.
Release, squeeze again and continue toe painting letters.
Once done with the alphabet, switch legs and repeat.
For a variation of this exercise, paint the alphabet letters with your heel instead of your toes.
Sit in your chair with your butt cheeks squeezed. With both feet flat on the floor and your back straight, lift up one knee as high as you can, while pointing your toes down.
Lower your foot back to the ground and repeat for the duration of your butt squeeze.
Switch legs, squeeze your butt cheeks and repeat.
To make this exercise more difficult, lift both knees at the same time.
Side Press Leg Raises
The starting position is the same as Knee Raises. But instead of lifting one knee, straighten out your leg. Next bend your leg at the knee and rotate your knee outward as far as it will go. Return your knee to center and lower your foot back to the floor. Repeat the four count sequence for the duration of your 30 second butt squeeze.
Switch legs and repeat.
To intensify the effectiveness, lift both legs at the same time and perform the exercise.
It really is amazing how well (and quick) these exercises tone and firm your butt. Between the Butt Squeezes and these four exercises, you’ll have a shapely backside in no time.
What exercises do you do at the office?
A standing desk is a great way to keep moving and reduce the amount of time you are sedentary at the office.
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How to Shape Up Your Butt While Sitting all Day in an Office
If you think that you are in no real need of butt exercises to keep your ‘behind’ in good shape, you could be very much mistaken if you work in a job that requires you to sit for most of the day. The Daily Mail published an article based on a study by scientists that found the effects of sitting down all as on the buttocks.
Here comes the bad news… sitting all day can actually make your buttocks bigger! This is down to the fact that sitting all day shrinks and breaks down your buttock muscles as a direct result of lack of exercise. With that being said, it is important that you know at least a couple of exercises that you can do in the office to keep you in shape.
#1 The Squeeze and Release
While sitting at your desk all day, it can be hard to get away to do exercises of a more physical nature, as such, the squeeze and release is your best option for working out your buttocks while sitting down. You simply need to contract the muscles in the buttocks tightly; hold this position while counting 30 seconds, then release for 10 seconds. Do this repeatedly for 10 minutes at various intervals throughout the day. You will definitely feel it as the weeks go by and you will see your buttocks become more toned.
#2 Circular Leg lifts
While sat at your desk, lift one foot off the found while keeping your leg bent at a 90 degree angle. Once lifted, rotate your leg in circular movements. Do this until you begin to feel a burn, then swap to your other leg and repeat. Do this several times per week to see a difference in both your buttocks and your thighs. Be sure to control your breathing so you do not get out of breath or cause attention to you while exercising at work!
#3 Long Leg Lifts
In a similar way to the abovementioned exercise, you need to lift one leg at a time (or both if you are particularly fit!) and hold them above the floor. You do not need to lift your leg high above the floor, just a few inches will do. This will tone your buttocks, thighs and your stomach.
#4 Tiptoes and Squeeze
While stood around waiting for the kettle to boil or queuing for the toilet, you can go up onto your tip toes and back down while also squeezing your buttock muscles. This tones both your buttocks and our calve muscles.
#5 Walk Like you Mean it
When walking anywhere in the office, you need to utilise this opportunity to work out. Be sure to squeeze your buttocks as you walk (don’t worry, it is not noticeable and you can still get a good workout from it!). You should also opt to take the stairs at any opportunity you get. Try to take two steps at a time and always push off from the heel! Doing this, will ensure you work your buttock muscles as opposed to pushing off from your toes.
So there you have it; some great tips on working your buttocks out at work without anyone noticing you do it! Do you have any more tips to share? If you can add any other exercises to this, please do so in the comments section below!
In addition to back issues, Johnson says that hip tightness is often accompanied by tight inner thighs and weak outer thighs, which can bring the knees inward provoking medial knee pain and affecting gate. If you notice knee pain specifically in the inside of the knees (closer to the middle of the body as opposed to the outer knee), this may be a sign that you have tight hips. Furthermore, tight glutes (also caused by sitting all day) can contribute to reduced hip rotation. “This decreases mobility of the hips and therefore forces other muscles down the chain to overwork (adductors, IT band, foot muscles, etc.),” Johnson explains.
Knowing some of the consequences of tight hips, it’s not hard to see why loosening them up is so important! Especially if you are spending long stretches of time sitting.
5 stretches for tight hips
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Desk warrior, this is for you: This five-move sequence will help mobilize your hips and loosen tight muscles that can lead to back, knee and foot pain. You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym to do these. (You don’t even need to get out of your chair to perform most of them!)
Hip Flexor Warrior 1 Stretch
Stand up from your chair and step your right foot forward and your left foot back. Open the feet wider than the hips, and bend the front knee while keeping the back leg straight. Turn the left toes so they face forward on a 45-degree angle. Place your hands on your hips, on your desk for balance or reach them towards the sky. Pull the abs in and relax the shoulders. Hold for 20–30 seconds, and then switch to perform on the other side.
Forward Fold Hamstring Stretch
A standard forward fold (often performed in yoga) loosens up the back of the legs and the low back. While you’re seated at your desk, you can perform a similar pose by placing your heel up on a printer, boxes or shelves. Pull your naval in towards your spine, and then fold forward hinging at your hips. You can reach over towards the right toes and then over towards the left to stretch each leg on its own respectively, or you can reach forward towards both feet at the same time and stretch both legs together. Hold for 20-30 seconds while breathing slowly.
A better way to sit at your desk
April 26, 201801:58
Modified Revolving Triangle IT Band Stretch
For this pose, straighten one leg out in front of you and keep the other leg bent with the foot on the ground. Flex the foot of the straightened leg and squeeze the quad. If you have the right leg straight, fold forward and reach the left hand towards the right shin. Then, twist to the right and reach the right arm up towards the ceiling. This should create a stretching sensation along the right outer thigh and IT band. (In yoga, this would be revolving triangle pose in a standing position. But at your desk, you’ll feel a similar sensation while sitting.) Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.
Modified Seated Pigeon Stretch
A popular hip stretch for runners, the pigeon pose can also be done seated at your desk. Sitting upright in your chair, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Flex your right foot, and feel a stretch in your right glute and outer hip. If you don’t feel a stretch, slowly hinge forward at your waist and lean into the right hip. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.
Modified Wide-Legged Seated Forward Bend
While sitting, turn the chair so that you can place your right heel onto boxes or a shelf (or something elevated). The goal is to stretch the inner right thigh. You can lean forward slowly to feel a more intense sensation in the inner thigh, otherwise called the adductors. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.
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