The Best Glute Activation Exercises To Lift And Round A Flat Butt
Many women struggle to find glute activation exercises that are effective in their quest for round and lifted glutes! While the gluteus maximus might be the largest muscle in your body, activating your glutes so that they can properly engage in movements and grow can be a challenge. If you are ready to lift and round a flat butt, you might be more interested in how your glutes look as you aim for that round boot. But it is just as important to remember that your butt muscles are critical stabilizers for movements you do everyday. It is critical that your glutes are strong!
The first step toward those strong glutes is to properly engage them through the best glute activation exercises. If you are ready to learn how best to activate your glutes, why developing glute strength is critical, and the benefits of glute activation with good form, you are in the right place!
What is a Glute Activation Exercise anyway & why is it important?
Glute activation is the process of completing a movement or exercise that gets your glute muscles warmed up, generally done before or after bigger lifts like squats and lunges. When done before a squat or lunge, a glute activation exercise like froggy glute lifts helps a woman feel the glute muscle fire and allows for more of a mind-muscle connection during those weighted exercises. When done after bigger movements, glute activation exercises can allow for a burn out set that takes the muscle to exhaustion.
Why is it so hard to activate the glutes?
Because so many women sit for extended periods of time whether doing computer work or driving, the glute muscles can atrophy and become weak. Have you every heard of flat butt syndrome or the dreaded pancake butt? This occurs because of those dormancies over time. The less you engage or use those glute muscles, the weaker they become, and the more difficult it is to activate them. It is a vicious cycle!
How do I activate my glutes? Can I test whether or not I my glutes are activating?
I like to use an easy test to decide whether or not the glutes are being activated and engaged correctly. This is a glute activation test that anyone can do from home too. Lying flat on the floor, draw your heels up toward your glutes. Keep the shoulder blades press down and hands flat at your sides. Lift your glutes up by pressing through the heels bring your into a traditional glute bridge.
From here, extend one of your legs out parallel to the floor while keeping your hips square and level. If you feel your hamstrings beginning to cramp or notice that the front of your legs with your quadriceps are taking over, then you will know that you are probably not using your glutes correctly.
I have put together a series of exercises that will help you engage your glutes so that you are really feeling those work instead of your quads or hamstrings on your next leg day. I recommend choosing 2-3 of the below exercises and completing 3 sets of each of these exercises in the 8-12 rep range to help focus on engaging your glutes before moving to bigger glute exercises. Over time, you will train your glutes so that you can begin to feel them firing with more traditional butt focused building exercises like lunges and squats.
Julie’s Favorite Glute Activation Exercises
Walking with resistance bands helps to engage deep leg muscles to both stabilize and strengthen. The X Band Walk is particularly good for glute activation as it allows isolation of the glute muscles without needing the larger and more powerful quads and hamstrings to take over. The muscles primarily targeted during an X band walk are the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and the tensor fascia latae, These muscles are responsible for hip abduction, or moving the leg away from the midline of the body.
The primary mechanism of glute activation with a froggy glute lift is hip extension, which occurs when you raise your legs up and back, away from the ground. This movement is initiated by the gluteus maximus muscle, which is the largest muscle in the buttocks and is responsible for extending the hip joint. By engaging the all three heads of the butt, froggy glute lifts help to shape and define. More than that though you will see results with hamstring as well as strengthening the lower back erector spinae muscles.
Frog pumps are a glute activation exercise that can be used to prepare the glutes for bigger movements like squats. They can help to increase blood flow and neural activation in the glutes, making them more responsive and better able to generate force. By performing frog pumps regularly, you can help to strengthen and activate your glutes over time, which can contribute to better overall lower body strength and improved performance in those bigger lifts.
Marching Glute Bridge
The best part of the marching glute bridge exercise in terms of glute activation is the movement of lifting one leg off the ground and driving the opposite heel into the ground. This action requires a high level of glute activation to maintain proper form and stability, as it places greater emphasis on the working glute muscle during the movement. This can help to improve strength, stability, and overall lower body performance.
Glute activation plays an important role in the Plank Glute Cross Over exercise, as it helps to engage and strengthen the glutes, which are a key muscle group involved in the movement. To properly activate the glutes during this exercise, it is important to focus on squeezing the glutes and engaging the hip muscles throughout the movement. This can help to improve the mind-muscle connection and ensure that the glutes are properly activated during the exercise.
Donkey kickbacks with or without banded resistance are a highly effective exercise for strengthening the glutes, improving glute activation, and promoting overall lower body strength and stability. With donkey kickbacks, the glutes work to extend the hip joint and bring the leg back behind the body, and the kicking motion of the exercise helps to target the glutes specifically. They can be performed as part of a larger glute-strengthening routine or as a standalone exercise.
The primary mechanism for glute activation with Banded Glute Bridge Pull Aparts is the external rotation of the hips that occurs during the movement. As you perform the exercise, the resistance band pulls your knees apart, causing your hips to externally rotate. This movement requires the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus muscles to work harder to maintain proper form and stability, leading to greater activation and strengthening of these muscles.
The straight leg glute bridge is a highly effective exercise for strengthening and improving lower body mobility and flexibility. By encouraging glute activation, this movement can help to improve hip mobility by increasing the range of motion in the hip joint, reduce lower back pain by strengthening the glutes and engaging core muscles. Together, these improve athletic performance building a stronger, healthier, and more functional lower body.
By working through these glute activation exercises, you will be ready to hit leg day hard, engage the right muscles, and really grow your glutes!