Quite a sizable number of people have either inactive or switched off glutes. Meaning, their glutes muscles are weak, and hence they are not utilized enough during physical movements.
One of the leading causes of weak glutes is having a sedentary life where you spend a lot of your time seated or inactive.
Another cause of weak and inactive glutes is the overreliance on other muscles during physical movement.
Glutes inhibition and excessive sitting can cause lower back and hip pain. Therefore, you must learn how to activate your glutes so that you can strengthen them and avoid any health problems.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO ACTIVATE YOUR GLUTES?
According to the UK-based Women’s Health Magazine, activating your glutes is performing a series of warm-up exercises to strengthen the muscles in your buttocks.
This gives you a pump of energy to perform exercises such as pulls, squats, jumps, and sprints.
WHY IS GLUTE ACTIVATION IMPORTANT?
ACE-certified personal trainer and founder of Strong with Sivan in Baltimore, Sivan Fagan, says that glute activation is important because it prepares your muscles to do the actual work during the workout.
Glute activation boosts blood flow to the muscles, which then establishes a mind-muscle connection.
If you fail to activate your glutes before doing a workout, your glutes might not fire up correctly.
This, therefore, means that your body will have to use other muscles to complete the workout, which ends up overworking them.
If these incorrect muscle activation patterns continue, they are likely to lead to muscle imbalances or injuries.
Improper muscle activation patterns can also cause poor posture, poor balance, lower back pain, lack of strength, muscle pain, and increased risk of injury.
Glute activation is also important because it gives you overall body strength.
This is because your glutes support your core, enabling you to perform various exercises and compound movements.
HOW TO ACTIVATE GLUTES WHILE WALKING
If you are wondering how to activate glutes, start by walking. But to strengthen your glutes, add some tweaks to your walking techniques so you can give your glutes muscles some love.
Here are trainer-approved tweaks that can help your walking be beneficial to your glute muscles.
1. WALK ON AN INCLINE
For your walking to offer maximum strength to your glutes, find an inclined surface to walk on, such as a treadmill or a hill.
Rebecca Louise, a mindedness and fitness coach, advises that you start with a small incline, slowly increasing the incline’s intensity.
2. DO SOME ‘BUTT ZAPS’
Butt zaps are another good way to activate your glutes. Peloton instructor Jess Sims defines butt zaps as pushing your pelvis forward as you squeeze your glute.
Meaning, you squeeze the foot’s glutes that are still on the ground and alternate as you step forward.
Instructor Sims advises that you exaggerate your walk by putting your heel down first, rolling through the center of your foot. As you get to the ball of the foot, do a calf raise, and add the butt zap.
3. DO SOME LATERAL (SIDEWAYS) STEP-OUTS
Lateral step-outs activate the gluteus medius (the part of your glutes that assists in hip movement).
To achieve a lateral step-out, instructor Sim advises that you turn to the side, bend your knees slightly more, and do that at least 10 to 20 times.
4. HOLD YOUR KNEE-HIGH
Take four to six steps, balance on one foot, then put your opposite leg on a high knee pause.
Squeeze the foot’s glute on the ground, push your hips forward, and draw your navel inside towards your spine.
Instructor Sim highlights how important it is to work our bodies unilaterally to avoid overcompensation and practice balancing neurologically.
This minimizes injuries on your body.
5. 30-MINUTE WALKING AND BODYWEIGHT GLUTE WORKOUT
To get the most out of your walks, Physiologist and Bowflex fitness adviser Tom Holland
suggests that you incorporate a few bodyweight strength moves like walking lunges and squats.
Start by walking for 10 minutes, then make 20 forward lunges followed by 15 squats. Repeat the 10-minute walk, the lunges, and squats for three circuits.
HOW TO ACTIVATE GLUTES WHILE SITTING
If you are looking for simple ways on how to activate glutes while seated without going to the gym, San Francisco based personal trainer Danny Gordon has several tips on how to do that.
1. SQUEEZING YOUR GLUTEAL MUSCLES
The easiest way to work out your gluteal muscles when seated is by squeezing the muscles on your rear end.
As you squeeze your gluteal muscles, you should feel your rear end squeezing in, and your hips rotate slightly.
For the exercise to be effective, hold your gluteal muscles for 30 seconds, then release them. Repeat the exercises 10 to 20 times in three to five sets.
2. SQUAT ABOVE YOUR SEAT
Squatting is simply one of the most acclaimed exercises for your glutes. However, you don’t have to move away from your seat to perform squats.
With your feet apart, raise your butt an inch off your seat. Keep your back as straight as you do this exercise. Ensure that as you squat, you can see the top of your shoes at all times.
Maintain your squatting position for 10 to 15 seconds for at least three sets. You can use the arms of your seat or desk for balance, then slowly free up your hands.
3. STRENGTHEN YOUR THIGHS WITH LEG LIFTS
While seated, straighten one leg at a time, hold it a few inches off the ground and count to 10 before placing the foot back on the ground. Repeat the process with the other leg.
4. USE A STABILITY BALL AS A SEAT
A stability ball is a great way to engage your buttocks, core, and legs as you work. As you sit on the ball, make sure you activate each muscle group to maintain your balance and posture.
While seated on the stability ball, press your feet on the floor and continuously bounce your gluteal muscles up and down.
To properly engage your gluteal muscles and maintain your balance, make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart.
As you do the bouncing, assume that you are doing mini-squats. Exercising using a stability ball also helps in burning calories.
Change your position on the stability ball periodically throughout the day. With your feet anchored properly on the ground, press your glutes to the left, right, forward, and back.
Even as you engage your glutes, be careful not to extend too much as this could cause you to fall or strain your lower back.
5 BEST GLUTE ACTIVATION EXERCISES
1. GLUTE BRIDGES WITH MINI-BAND
Lie on the floor face-up, with your knees bent and a mini band around your waist.
Place your hands inside the band, hold the band on the ground, and incline your hips towards the sky.
Engage your glutes and hold for some time at the peak of your bridge.
Lower your hips to the floor and repeat the exercise for 10-15 reps.
2. SIDE SHUFFLE
While standing, place the band around your legs. With your feet apart, keep your feet parallel to each other, your toes facing forward. Always maintain the tension in the band.
Take two large steps to your right, then take another two to your left. Keep alternating until you make 24 steps in total.
3. MONSTER WALK
While standing, strap your leg with your band. Let your legs be apart to their full extent. Maintain that wide stance as you walk forward.
Take a ‘monster’ step forward with your right leg then with your left leg. Maintain a wide stance.
Make four steps forward and another four steps backward until you get to 24 steps.
4. BANDED SQUATS
Loop your band around your legs, somewhere just above your knees. With your feet and hips apart, engage your glutes and push your hips back into a squat.
Perform 10 to 15 reps without letting the tension leave your band. Keep your weight on your heels and your chest up as you stand.
5. DONKEY KICK
Loop your mini band around the bottom of your right foot and right ankle. Position yourself in a quadruple pose with your knees under your hips, wrists under your shoulders, and core engaged.
With your knee bent and right foot flexed, kick your right leg up towards the ceiling and pause at the top.
Let your left knee lie flat on the floor for one rep. Do 15 to 20 reps, then switch.
If you have spent a lot of your time seated behind a computer or on a couch, it’s about time to start exercising your glute muscles.
Because if you don’t, you will likely develop lower back or hip pain.
Once you perform the glute activation exercises listed above, you will notice that your running speed and endurance will improve. It will be much easier to lift heavier loads.
The best part is, once you exercise your glutes, they will be aesthetically appealing.