The glutes are one of the largest and most important muscles in your body. They are the primary stabilizers of the hip joint and the powerhouse muscle of the lower body. Having strong glutes isn't only for looks; they are very important. They play a crucial role in one's posture, performance, injury prevention and daily function.
Most people are unaware that their glute muscles aren't functioning correctly. When performing glute, dominant exercises such as squats, step-downs, or running, more often than not, individuals with weak glute muscles don't activate the muscle. Instead, their hamstring muscles or back extensors will take over and act as the primary load carriers. This will cause these muscles to become tight and overactive. To work your glutes, it is essential to prep and activate the muscles before your workout. Not only will these exercises activate your glutes. They will also improve the strength and functioning needed for your activities.
Here are some glute activation exercises to implement before exercise to help get those glutes "fired up" and ready to work!
Leg lifts will target your left and right glute separately. You may notice that one glute is stronger than the other; this exercise will help the imbalance. Lay on your stomach and think about squeezing your glute muscles. Lift your leg a few inches off the ground and then lower it back down. The hamstrings and erector muscles of the spine will try to compensate for the glutes during this exercise. To ensure it's the glutes initiating the work, take one hand and place a few fingers on your glute and a few on your hamstring. Make sure that you feel the glute muscle contract under your fingers before your hamstring. Complete 15 reps on one leg and then switch to the other.
The Banded Side Shuffle or Monster Steps targets your lateral glutes. These glute muscles help with proper knee function. For this exercise, place a band above the ankles with your feet far enough apart to create tension. Start taking lateral steps to one side, maintaining tension at all times. Make sure you keep a slight bend in the hips and a nice flat back. Take 6 to 8 steps in one direction, then to shuffle 6 to 8 steps in the other direction.
Glute Bridging is a useful exercise for targeting your glutes. As you build more strength, you can increase the reps or add weight. Lay on your back with your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor. Think about driving your heels into the floor and contracting your glutes to help lift your hips off the ground. Keep a straight line from your knees to your chest to ensure you are raising your hips high enough off the ground.
We already discussed the importance ofstrong glutes. In athletic exercises like deadlifts they are essential, and they assist in forward propulsion during running, it is evident that the glutes are essential to many athletic pursuits: acceleration, jumping, and even heavy lifting. The Gluteus Maximus is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. So it has a lot of influence over the explosive nature of an athlete's performance. If you let your glutes get weak, you may find yourself less powerful and efficient than some of your competitors.