Hey every, thanks for stopping by another Full Affect Fitness article! Today’s topic is going to be all about activating the glutes! So if you’re looking for information that is actually beneficial on glute activation how to, you’ve come to the right place!
I will be going over 3 main ideas that may be able to help you activate the glutes, with the focus on increasing performance:
- Loosening The Muscle
- Priming The Muscle
- Exercise Specific Priming
Let’s get to the information!
Loosening The Muscle:
With any muscle that we may have difficulty activating, it is typically because there are many surrounding muscles that help it to function. An example of this would be the lower back and hamstrings in regards to the glutes. When a muscle we are trying to activate is stiff, it can oftentimes put the workload on surrounding muscles, as it is not ready to optimally handle the loads we may be putting on it.
When trying to loosen a muscle, whether it be the glute maximus (your actual butt) or your glute medius (a glute muscle on the side of your hip for stabilization), there are a couple of ways in which we can do this! The first would be through stretching, we can place our glute maximus on stretch by executing hip flexion. For the glute medius, we can put it on stretch by bringing or leg across our body and up.
Another way to help loosen the muscle is through foam rolling. This will help to loosen the soft tissues within the muscle and free them up a bit so the muscle doesn’t feel so tight.
Priming The Muscle:
When looking to prime the muscle, we are trying to get a feel for the muscle turning on and contributing to stabilization and providing strength. The best way to do this would be through exercises that use the glutes as prime movers. An example of this would be the hip thrust for the glute maximus, or a band-kick out for the glute medius.
If looking to achieve a mind-muscle connection/help get the muscle to fire, consider using lightweight, and potentially pause reps. You can also progressively make the exercise more challenging through variations such as turning the hip thrust into a unilateral movement, or adding pause reps for the band kick out.
While both strategies will help increase muscle firing and stabilization/strength, there are ways to preferentially work on one of these things. What we just discussed would mainly be focusing on getting a muscle to fire. However, adding in some weight and getting a muscle to work by actively using it to stabilize is a great way to work on stability/strength. An example of this would be sitting in the parallel position of a goblet squat with some weight, and holding it while getting a sense for the glutes contributing to stabilizing the exercise.
Exercise Specific Priming:
Exercise specific priming has a lot to do with recognizing your goal (such as strength or hypertrophy), then working to activate the glutes around that goal and the exercises you will be performing. This is important as different priming methods are relative to different goals.
An example being for hypertrophy. A general mind-muscle connection may be the best method to focus on, as you would typically be using lighter loads, and a mind-muscle connection actually has hypertrophic benefits. Meanwhile, for strength training, stability may be more beneficial as you are using heavier loads that put more demand on technique.
Allow me to put these ideas into context. If you’re trying to work on glute hypertrophy, and one of your movements is the hip thrust, you could perform some unilateral bridges with a pause at the top. This may allow you to feel a slight burn, but more importantly, give you a feel for that muscle activating. So during the actual exercise, you have a strong mind-muscle connection throughout the range of motion.
Meanwhile, for the goal of strength, let’s look at the squat and deadlift. In the squat, you mainly rely on the glute medius to stabilize the hips and knees. So performing some band kick-outs with a pause may allow you to prime that muscle to stabilize its surrounding muscles and joints. However, for the deadlift, you may want to focus on priming the glute maximus, possibly through some loaded hip thrusts, seeing as this muscle is the key contributor to hip extension. Keep in mind that no warm-up should ever drain your energy for the working sets.
I suggest focussing on these different muscle groups for the different lifts as one may be more active than the other during the lift. The glute medius is much more active in the squat than the maximus. Meanwhile, the glute maximus is much more active in the deadlfit as it is responsible for hip extension.
Well everyone, there you have it, how to activate the glutes! To sum things up, you need to make sure the muscle is ready to work, and you must give it a proper stimulus for priming. Doing these 2 things while keeping your goal in mind is the most optimal way to go about priming a muscle!
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Until Next Time,
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