Do You Need to Do Glute Activation Exercises?

Learn everything there is to know about glute activation and the best exercises for warming up your glutes so you can have more effective workouts!

Do You Need to Do Glute Activation Exercises?
María Rubio María Rubio
5 min read

Whether you’re on a strength training journey or you prefer to stay active and improve your cardiovascular condition through cardio exercises, your leg muscles probably play a huge role in your fitness routine. And while there are several muscles that make up your legs, your glute muscles are a particular group that might need a little bit more attention.

Your glutes are there to help you stand upright and to propel you whenever you’re walking or running, making them primary or secondary movers in most lower body exercises, as well as help you stand straight during upper-body exercises. More specifically, the gluteus maximus is the one in charge of keeping you from falling forward, while the gluteus minimus and medius keep you from falling sideways.

As you can see, this huge muscle group is responsible for a huge part of your workouts. But what exactly is glute activation, and how can you implement it in your routine? Keep reading to learn everything about it, as well as how to do some of our favorite glute activation exercises!

What is glute activation and why is it important?

Activating your muscles before you train is essential in order to get rid of any stiffness and get them pumped and ready to move, which is why you should warm-up before every workout – and glute activation means just that! Warming up your glutes so you can have proper support during your routine and daily life.

The reason why you should add activation exercises that specifically target your glutes to your warm-ups is that they’re a very large muscle group that can get lazy very quickly. If you spend most of your day sitting down, have a long commute, work at a desk, or just sit a lot at home, then your glutes aren’t really doing anything most of the time. This means when you start your leg workouts, they won’t be actively working throughout the exercises, instead, other muscles will be picking up the slack.

Activating the glutes is crucial if you want to have a well-rounded lower body workout, so learn how to activate them - if you don’t already!

When and how to do glute activation exercises

Glute activation is essentially a warm-up for your glutes, so you should really only add them to your warm-up routine before you begin your workouts. This is particularly important if you’re going to be doing exercises that target your glutes or use them as primary movers, such as squats and deadlifts.

Something to keep in mind when doing glute activation exercises is that you don’t want to go too far. There’s a line between activating and exhausting a muscle, and you should be careful when warming up. This is so your muscles don’t end up being too tired when you actually start working out.

To keep your glute activation routine effective but not too tiring, you should stick to just two activation exercises and two sets of 10-15 reps. This is enough to get your muscles up and moving with enough strength left to last your whole workout. That said, picking two glute activation exercises doesn’t mean that you have to do those same exercises every time – variety is key after all!

To keep your warm-up routine from getting boring after a while, you could set up a rotation of different glute activation exercises that you could change every week, or even every day if you choose to.

Here are our favorite picks for an effective glute activation session:

Banded glute bridge

0:00
/
  1. Lie on your back with both arms to your sides and your knees bent. Your feet should be firmly planted on the floor hip-width apart and pulled toward your glutes.
  2. Loop a short resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees to make your legs work against the tension of the band.
  3. Begin the movement by thrusting your hips off the floor and toward the ceiling. Press through your heels to feel the stretch on your glutes until your torso is in line with your thighs.
  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then lower your hips back to the starting position and repeat.

Tip: Want to make the glute bridge more effective? Add a hip abduction by placing your feet together instead of hip-width apart and separating your knees at the top of the movement. This will make your gluteus medius work against the tension of the resistance band, improving the mobility of your hip abductors.

Banded donkey kicks

0:00
/
  1. Loop a short resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees, and place your hands and knees on the floor. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders and your thighs forming a 90-degree angle with your torso.
  2. Begin the movement by lifting your right knee off the floor and back, as if you were kicking like a donkey. Your leg should go up until your thigh is in line with your torso while keeping your knee bent throughout the full range of motion.
  3. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then slowly bring your leg down and repeat.
  4. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Tip: Keep your donkey kicks effective by fully engaging your core! An engaged core will prevent your back from arching down with the weight of your torso, compromising your form and putting a lot of stress on your spine.

Banded lateral walks

0:00
/
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and loop a short resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees.
  2. Slightly bend your hips and knees to engage your core and leg muscles for stability and clam your hands together in front of you to keep your balance.
  3. Begin the movement by stepping to the right side with your right foot. Follow with your left foot in the same direction and place it at a hip-width distance from your right foot just like in the beginning.
  4. Repeat the motion starting now with your left foot to your left side, and keep alternating until you’ve completed your reps.

Tip: You can make this activation exercise more challenging by squatting down every time you step to the side with your foot. The deeper you go, the better the glute activation will be – but be careful not to exhaust the muscle!

Banded fire hydrant

0:00
/
  1. Loop a short resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees, and place your hands and knees on the floor. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders and your thighs forming a 90-degree angle with your torso.
  2. Begin the movement by abducting your right leg and lifting it to the side. Drive your knee away from the midline of your body and upward as high as you can or until your thigh is almost parallel to the floor.
  3. Keeping your knee bent, squeeze your glutes in this position, then bring your leg back to the floor and repeat.
  4. Finish your reps and switch to the opposite side.

Tip: Keep your whole body straight during the movement and avoid leaning to the side to help your leg go up higher. Your bottom leg should always be in the same position without swaying, so make sure to engage your core to keep your stability.

You can also take your activation to the next level by foam rolling your glute muscles and doing some static stretches before you activate them. This will increase the effectiveness of your activation exercises and get you through your warm-up session more easily – and remember to cool down properly after!

More active glutes means more effective workouts

Building a booty at the gym is a goal that a lot of people are after, and the best way to achieve it is by taking care of your glutes properly and activating them so that they can help you back and support you during your workouts.

All of the activation exercises that we mentioned can be done both with and without a resistance band, so don’t worry if you don’t have one. But if you’re looking to buy a resistance band that can really help push your muscles to the max, check out the high-quality and stylish UPPPER Resistance Bands!