Updated: Feb 2
The term ‘glute activation’ is ultra-hot in the fitness industry right now. Many people know that in order to work on your booty, you need to do band work, use ankle weights or do leg lifts (aka Jane Fonda workouts). But, do you really know WHY you’re doing these exercises? If done correctly, you will get ‘booty gains’, but is this the main purpose of doing glute activation?
Put simply, the answer is NO. The main purpose for glute activation is to prevent injury, to create symmetry in the muscles of the lower body and to enhance athletic performance.
Under-utilized glutes can contribute to a range of health issues including poor posture, lower back pain, balance issues, lack of strength, muscle pain, and could potentially increase the risk of injury.
How Does This Happen?
When doing a lower body exercise, generally your quad muscles (muscles of the front of your legs) take over the bulk of the work. If you continue to ignore this lower body asymmetry, your quads will ultimately get stronger (as your hamstring and glute muscles get weaker). In this unbalanced state of your anterior chain (quads and hip flexors) being stronger than your posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes), your quads will pull on your hip flexors causing hip flexor and TFL tightness. This could also change the tilt of your pelvis, thus causing a pull at your lower back, resulting in back pain.
The Muscles That Make Up The 'Glutes'
The glute max is the largest of the glute muscles. It is also the most superficial, producing the shape of your booty.
It is the main extensor of the thigh, and assists with lateral rotation. However, it is only used when force is required, such as running or climbing.
The glute med muscle is fan-shaped and lies between to the glute maxim and the min. It is similar in shape and function to the gluteus minimus.
It abducts (lifts away) and medially rotates the lower limb. During movement, it secures the pelvis, preventing pelvic drop of the opposite limb.
The glute min is the deepest and smallest of the superficial glute muscles. It is similar is shape and function to the glute med.
Together with the glute med, it acts to stabilize the hip and pelvis when the opposite leg is raised from the ground.
By ‘activating’ your glutes, you can provide symmetry to the lower body and allow for better posture, the prevention of lower back and knee pain, and better athletic performance.
The following glute activation exercises will prevent the above!
1) Clam Shells
6) Quadruped Series:
When Should You Incorporate Glute Activation?
Glute activation can be done every day, especially if you are suffering from one of the symptoms listed above. At the very least, they should be done before every workout to ensure that glute muscles are firing during your workout and allowing for the muscles of the lower body to be working in unison and in symmetry.