Your glutes, also known as your gluteal muscles, are one of the most important muscle groups in your body. They are responsible for hip extension, abduction and external rotation. This means that they play a vital role in walking, running, squatting and lifting.
Unfortunately, many people have weak or inactive glutes. This can lead to a variety of problems, including pain in the hips, knees and back. It can also make it difficult to perform everyday activities and exercises properly.
The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to activate your glutes. Here are a few tips:
1. Do glute-activation exercises.
There are a number of exercises that can help to activate your glutes, such as:
- Glute bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position and repeat.
- Clam: Lie on your side with your knees bent to 45 degrees and your feet stacked on top of each other. Raise your top knee off the ground, keeping your feet together. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position and repeat.
- Fire hydrant: Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Raise one leg off the ground and kick it out to the side, keeping your knee bent. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position and repeat.
- Hip hinge: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly. Lean forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and your core engaged. Lower your body until your torso is parallel to the ground. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position squeezing your glutes.
You can do these exercises as part of your warm-up before your workout or on their own as a separate workout itself. Start with 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions of each exercise. As you get stronger, you can increase the number of sets and repetitions or add weight.
2. Focus on glute engagement during your workouts.
When you are doing exercises that work your glutes, such as squats, lunges and deadlifts, make sure to focus on engaging your glutes throughout the entire movement. To do this, imagine that you are trying to squeeze your glutes together.
You can also try using a resistance band around your knees or thighs to add more resistance to your glute exercises. This will help you to activate your glutes more fully.
3. Stretch your glutes regularly.
Tight glutes can make it difficult to activate them properly. Therefore, it is important to stretch and mobilize your glutes when tight. Some good glute stretches include:
- Seated glute stretch: Sit on a chair with one foot on top of the other knee. Cradle the knee of the foot resting up with your hands and pull it to your opposite shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on both sides.
- Pigeon pose: Start on all fours with your right knee under your right hip and your left leg extended behind you. Slide your right knee forward and rotate it inwards towards your body. Lastly lower down onto your elbows. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
You can hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-3 times on each side.
By following these tips, you can activate your glutes and as a result improve your overall fitness and performance.