glute activation

How to Activate Your Glutes with Glute Activation Warm Up Exercises

December 17, 2020

Did you know your butt contains the largest muscle in your body? It’s called the gluteus maximus. But (pun intended), it’s not only the largest, it’s also the most powerful! It’s your body’s main support system and shock absorber. Moreover, it powers your movements. There is great force within your booty, you just have to know how to activate it. Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to activate their glutes and/or they have weak glutes that don’t live up to their full potential. That’s why we are here. Below, we are going to be discussing everything there is to know about glute activation. This includes what exactly is glute activation, the importance of glute activation, glute activation exercises and when to do them, and more. We also have a full-length, follow along 12-minute glute activation warm up using a booty band for you. This is not only great for those who don’t know how to activate their glutes properly, but it is also great for advanced trainees looking for a quick and effective glute-based warm up before their next lower body workout.

Without further ado, let’s begin…

glute activation with band

WHAT ARE THE GLUTE MUSCLES?

You probably don’t need us to tell you what your glute muscles are…but we will anyway.

Your glutes (gluteal muscles) are a group of three muscles that make up your buttocks (your booty). They consist of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. These three muscles start at your ilium and sacrum (the top of your pelvic girdle and bottom of your spine) and insert into your femur.

glute muscle activation

The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three and it makes up the shape of your butt. The other two muscles assist in moving. Together, your three glute muscles support and stabilize your hips. They also work with your core to support your spine and maintain posture.

Every time you move your thigh forward, back or in rotation, you are using your glute muscles. This means walking, running, jumping, turning, etc.

Now, a common issue people have is they don’t activate their glutes enough, in daily life or when working out. They let other muscles take over, leading to compensation issues and weak glute muscles, which can cause a number of problems across your body…This is why you are here, reading this glute activation article. We are going to make sure your glutes are firing up when they should be, in and out of the gym (commercial, home, or otherwise).

WHAT IS GLUTE ACTIVATION?

Glute activation is the practice of activating your glute muscles, both before a workout and during a workout. You want to work on glute activation before a workout so the glutes are primed to do the work during your workout. Glute activation exercises gets the blood flowing to your glute muscles and helps you build that mind-muscle connection. By doing glute activation warm ups, you will ensure that your glutes are fully active during your workout (for big lifts like squats or deadlifts) and you are not compensating by overusing other muscles involved in the lift.

You can also do glute activation exercises anytime during the day to help weak glutes stay active.

It’s important to note, that even if you know how to activate your glutes during big, compound, lower body exercises, glute activation warm ups are still important. By doing glute activation prior to your workout, your glutes will be warm and ready to roll. If not, your body will naturally recruit other muscles (it’s like your glutes are still asleep), such as the lower back, which can cause strain and pain.

Activating your glutes beforehand is a way to tell your body, “these are the muscles that need to be engaged during my workout - don’t let other muscles take over”.

It should also be noted that glute activation consists of both loosening up tight muscles and priming them with resistance-based exercises, which can come from your bodyweight alone (thanks gravity) or bands. You want to dynamically stretch your glutes and get them contracting when doing your glute activation exercise warm up.

glute activation workout

WHY IS GLUTE ACTIVATION SO IMPORTANT?

Your glutes are dormant for most of the day, especially if you sit down for prolonged periods of time. Glute activation wakes that booty up. However, it’s not only that, there are a number of reasons why glute activation warm ups are so important before any workout that involves your lower body (leg day, back day, sprinting, running, cycling, sports in general, etc.)

Here are some of the main benefits of glute activation warm ups:

  • Tighten, grow & strengthen your booty: First in foremost, you want your glute muscles to get stronger and look better. To do that, they need to be active during lower body exercises! This benefit is obvious.
  • Avoid muscle imbalances: If your glutes aren’t engaging correctly during lower body movements like squats, you will develop muscle imbalances, which can lead to not only poor body compensation, but also performance issues and even injuries due to tight or overworked muscles.
  • Improves posture: Your glutes work with your core to help you maintain good posture. If your glutes are weak, your posture will suffer. As such, you want to make sure you are doing glute activation even on days you aren’t working out, especially if you have poor posture and weak glutes.
  • Prevent or cure low back pain: Weak glute muscles can lead to poor low back alignment, which is bound to cause injury such as sprains or tears in your lower back at some point. If you want a strong lower back, you need strong glutes, the two go hand in hand.
  • Improve balance: Your glutes work with your core to stabilize your body during movements (this is why most consider the glutes to be a part of your core). So, if you want good balance, you need strong glutes.
  • Avoid injury: You want your glutes to be strong as they play a key role in reducing your risk of injury during sports and workouts. This is not just about your lower back too. Strong glutes can prevent injuries to your knees, hips and all the surrounding muscles.
  • Improve athletic ability: Powerful glutes equals powerful movements. Your glutes generate a ton of force when you move. This is why pro athletes have such strong glutes. They wouldn’t be professional without them!
  • Improve workout performance: Warm ups are essential for performing your best during a workout. Glute activation is a warm up for your booty!

A message to all the men out there:

Don’t feel embarrassed to do glute activation exercises prior to a lower body workout or run. Glute activation is usually geared towards women, but it is just as important for men too! Even if you don’t care about having a nice butt, you want a strong butt because it’s one of the most important muscles in your body for overall performance.

Plus, women like nice butts, just as much as men. We all know this though.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR GLUTES ARE ACTIVATED WHEN WORKING OUT?

If your glutes are activated when performing an exercise, you should feel them contracting. However, it is easier said than done. You really need to develop a mind-muscle connection with your glutes. Perform the lower body exercise with a light weight load (or just your bodyweight) and really feel them contracting. It’ll be easier to focus with less weight. That feeling should carry through when you go up in weight.

Let’s use squats as an example. If you are only feeling your quads, hamstrings and lower back, then your glutes are not being activated properly. You want your booty to also feel that pump, that contraction, that burn.

If you are still unsure whether your glutes are activating during exercises like squats and deadlifts, then you really need to practice glute activation exercises on a daily basis. They will help you build the mind-muscle connection, which will allow you to use and engage your glutes during your compound lifts.

Another way to tell if your glutes are activated when working out comes after the fact. If your glutes are not sore the next day, but your quads and hamstrings are (and you did exercises like squats), then you did not activate your glutes properly. Again, you need to work on glute activation exercises to get the hang of activating your glutes during compound movements. In any case, don’t feel discouraged if you are having trouble activating your glutes. You will eventually get the hang of it, just keep practicing and keep it top of mind when performing exercises during a workout.

Tip #1: Focus on your form. Poor form may be the cause of your lack of glute activation. Go light and get the form down pat. This may be all you need to get those glutes activated properly.

Tip #2: Squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercises. This will help you with engaging them throughout the movement.

Tip #3: Practice simple glute activation exercises during the day. Even simply squeezing your glutes as you sit and stand can help you develop a mind-muscle connection.

importance of glute activation

WHY WON'T MY GLUTES ACTIVATE DURING WORKOUTS?

You’ve probably never heard of gluteal amnesia, but it is surprisingly common. Gluteal amnesia, aka dead butt syndrome, means your body has forgotten how to active the glute muscles properly. The good news is it is fixable with glute activation exercises and practice.

Now, you may not have full blown “dead butt”, but if you have trouble activating your glutes, it is likely they are weaker than they should be. Gluteal amnesia basically means you have weak glutes too.

Weak glutes = troubles activating your glutes. The stronger your glutes get, the better you will be at activating them.

What causes weak glutes?

The most common cause is sitting too much. Hence why gluteal amnesia is common. Another reason for weak glutes is poor form, as your glutes are never able to work properly, and thus, get stronger. Lastly, it may even be that your glutes are tight, which means they can’t function properly. This is why glute activation should also entail some dynamic stretches.

Overall, weak glutes cause tight hamstrings and low back pain and discomfort, which is one of the most common signs that you have weak glutes. If after a leg workout your hamstrings are tight and your low back has discomfort (assuming your hamstrings’ flexibility is normal), your glutes are weak and were unactivated, so the low back and hamstrings had to compensate.

So, let’s fix that before we even start our workout next time. Moreover, let’s work on that throughout the week with glute activation practice.

HOW TO ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES BEFORE A LEG WORKOUT?

Do glute activation exercises as a warm up. The purpose is to focus on your butt muscles. You will do bodyweight or light resistance band (booty bands, aka mini bands) movements that target the glutes and get them firing. As you hone in on your glute muscles, you should feel the contraction and pump, this means blood is flowing through your butt and you are priming them for the workout to come. This is glute activation.

Glute activation warm up exercises are low intensity. They involve hip extension, hip external rotation, and hip abduction. These hip based movements will activate your glutes as well as improve your hip’s range of motion. Hip mobility is also crucial for being able to perform an exercises like squats correctly, and thus, engage your glutes properly. So, you are killing two birds with one stone here.

Hip extension warm up exercise examples: Glute bridges, donkey kicks, prone hip extension.

Hip external rotation warm up exercise examples: Clamshells and fire hydrants (throw some stretch-based movements in too like the 90/90s)

Hip abduction warm up exercise examples: lateral walks and side lysing leg lifts.

All of these glute activation examples can be done with or without bands.

To help you learn how to activate your glutes properly with a glute activation warm up, we have asked coach Paulina Kairys (ambassador of SET FOR SET) to put together a follow along glute activation warm up using booty bands.

Before we get into the glute activation warm up workout, let us explain why we chose to do it with bands and how long a glute activation warm up should be…

what is glute activation

WHY DO GLUTE ACTIVATION WITH BANDS?

Fabric hip bands, aka booty bands, were made for activating the glutes, hence their name. So, it will be very easy for beginners to properly activate their glutes during a warm up. You shouldn’t have any trouble feeling your glutes contracting during glute activation exercises with bands.

It’s also more effective for advanced trainees who need some resistance to get their glutes truly warmed up in an efficient manner. The bands put tension in just the right place.

Overall, we find the light resistance of the booty bands to be perfect for “cold” glute muscles. They are super effective for warming up the glutes and getting the blood flowing. Moreover, they help with mobility as they make engaging stabilizer muscles easier.

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Note: Booty bands are also fantastic during big lifts like squats as they put tension on the glutes, which essentially puts glute activation during the lift on automation. Squatting with fabric hip bands is so common because of this. They really double down on the ability to activate the glutes during lower body movements, both during your warm up and workout.  You don’t always have to squat with booty bands, but throwing in 3-4 sets of booty band squats will be beneficial on your journey to stronger glutes.

Related: 5 Best Ways to Use Booty Bands

Related: Benefits of Booty Bands

HOW LONG SHOULD A GLUTE ACTIVATION WARM UP LAST?

If you are going into your workout completely cold, meaning you just got off your butt and you have done much moving prior to starting, then aim for 10-15 minutes. However, if you just did a jog or your biked to your workout for example, you could shorten it down to 5 minutes.

All in all, aim for 3-4 exercises for 2-4 rounds. Keep the repetitions to 8-12 each set.

As a glute activation warm up consists of exercises that are low intensity and light resistance, you should really minimize rest time between rounds. You don’t really need to rest much at all. The point is to get the blood flowing, which also requires your heart rate to be up. It’s not going to be skyrocketed, it’s just up higher than resting and maintained at that rate.

12-MINUTE GLUTE ACTIVATION WARM UP WITH FABRIC HIP BANDS (FOLLOW ALONG - FULL LENGTH)

 

As you follow along with Paulina for this booty band glute activation warm up, you will get clear instructions on how to perform each booty band warm up exercise. She is great at teaching form technique in a simple to understand manner. Your glutes are surely going to be activated with this one.

BOOTY BAND WARM UP ROUTINE FOR GLUTE ACTIVATION & HIP MOBILITY

4 exercises x 3 rounds:

1. Lateral Banded Walk x 10 steps each way

glute activation with bands

2. Monster Walk x 10 steps forward and 10 steps backward

how to activate your glutes with bands

3. Squat Pulse with Abduction x 10 reps

glute activation exercises

4. Glute Bridges x 10 reps

glute activation warm up

    DOES GLUTE ACTIVATION WARM UP EXERCISES BUILD STRENGTH AND MUSCLE?

    For beginners, glute activation exercises will build muscle and strength. After all, both bodyweight and band glute activation exercises are resistance based movements.

    For those who are more advanced, glute activation is meant to warm up and maintain. They will also help keep that butt toned!

    HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO GLUTE ACTIVATION EXERCISES?

    You should do glute activation warm ups before every lower body workout. This applies to those who know how to properly activate their glutes during workouts too! Glute activation is for everyone, man and woman. It’s necessary just like warming up before a workout is necessary. It is a warm up after all! Warm ups are essential for performing at your best during a workout or when playing sports. 

    For those who have trouble activating their glutes, you can also do glute activation warm ups, like the full length follow along one by Paulina above, during the day, every day! Do it in the morning or take a break from sitting and do a few glute activation exercises!

    If you have any questions about glute activation, please feel free to contact us. Make sure you take action on glute activation and you will surely see and feel your glutes become more active and stronger.

    Want fabric non-slip booty bands for glute activation?

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    Related: Full-Length Follow Along 25-Minute Booty Band-Only Workout For Growing & Strengthening Your Glutes & Thighs



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