Here are 2 highly effective exercises you can do to activate your gluteal muscles.
Mini band aka Monster walks
How to do Monster walks:
- choose a mini band of suitable resistance
- put the band around your ankles; adjust difficulty by moving band up or down the leg – the lower down towards the ankles the harder the exercise will be
- have the back straight and the torso and hips forward
- knees should be bent slightly and not allowed to buckle inwards
- slowly walk forward or backward while keeping constant tension on the band
The key to doing these walks is to really think and feel the upper outside of your glutes (gluteas medius) doing the work.
Keep tension on the muscles throughout the walking, so do not let the band slack.
Steps should be slow and controlled, each one done deliberately.
- you can walk sideways instead of forward to backwards
- you can walk diagonally forwards or backwards
How to do glute bridges:
- lie face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down
- lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line
- squeeze your glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise
- hold the top bridged position for a couple of seconds before going back down to the floor
The key to doing glute bridges is to really think and feel the main big part of your glutes (gluteas maximus) doing the work.
Do not over-extend your lower back. Your back ought to be flat and in line with your hips and shoulders.
Despite what you may read elsewhere, I have personally found that bringing the heels towards the glutes more effective for the glutes than having a big distance between the glutes and the heels.
Having a wider than hip-width foot position with or without toes ducked out can also be effective.
- you can raise your feet slightly (I like 2-5 inches and no higher), by putting them up on a weight plate or the base of a power rack
- you can have your bottom quite close to your feet as this may reduce the amount of work done by the hamstrings and create more work for the glutes
- you can place your feet quite wide apart (wider than hip width) for even more glute activation
- you can put a mini band around your knees and focus on pushing knees out
Do these before you start your workout – and in particular before you squat – to activate your gluteal muscles.
You can also do a few between your sets.
Perform enough reps to feel that your glutes are activated. There is no need to over-do the reps/sets as they are being used here as an assisting/warm up/activation exercise.