Glute Activation: 5 Equipment Free Exercises
I absolutely love working out my lower body - glutes and hamstrings in particular. There are a couple reasons for this: I'm stronger in my lower body, therefore I feel more capable, and I, like some others, love a thick, toned tush. However, I know having a strong posterior chain (glutes in particular) means more than just achieving luscious curves. Strengthening this area helps with posture, relieves knee and lower back pain and improves athletic ability (stronger butt and hamstrings means you can sprint a hell of a lot faster).
I rarely meet a client who has never suffered from low back pain. Because we are constantly sitting at a desk, on the couch, at the dinner table, driving etc. our glutes are often "asleep" and low back pain can easily set it. Proper glute strength (starting with activation) and an efficient stretching routine can help combat or prevent this common issue.
Your glutes (maximus, medius and minimus) make up the largest and strongest group of muscles in your body. What people tend to forget is that before you work to strengthen the muscles, you have to activate them. Think of it as foreplay. It's not that you CAN'T do the deed before a little heavy petting, it's just preferable (and more effective) if you get a little dirty before going all the way.
After doing a 10-15 minute dynamic warmup, try including these five glute activation exercises before your workout. You'll notice a few things: 1. You will feel more prepared for the your workout. 2. You will actually feel your glute medius (the part of the muscle on the outer portion of the pelvis) firing. This is a part of the muscle that frequently gets ignored. 3. You might get fatigued quicker during your lower body workouts for a few sessions because instead of your quads taking over, your glutes are actually doing more of the work due to the activation.
I'm demonstrating all of these exercises with no equipment because I think it's important that you know you can do this at home in your living room even if you have no access to equipment. However, if you want to add a little more resistance after trying it this way once or twice (I advise adding resistance), there are tips under each exercise on where to place a mini band to make the exercise a little more challenging.