10 Best Glute Activation Exercises That Can Wake Up the Glute Muscles
These glute activation exercises can wake up and engage the glute muscles, helping to improve their strength, endurance, and activation patterns.
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Glute activation exercises target the glute muscles, including the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
These exercises activate and engage the glute muscles, helping to improve their strength, endurance, and activation patterns.
Best glute activation exercises for conditioning the glutes
Glute activation exercises can be part of your warm-up routine or isolated exercises.
Unlike glute isolation exercises that specifically target the glute muscles and isolate them, glute activation exercises help wake up the glutes and prepare and condition them, allowing you to engage safely in other lower-body exercises like squats or deadlifts.
Exercising with weak glutes can cause pain and injuries in the knees, hips, and back.
Planning your workout and training to include exercises that activate the glute muscles can help reduce the risk of such mishaps.
Including glute activation exercises in your training regimen can help improve their neuromuscular connection to establish a better mind-muscle connection. That can benefit athletes or anyone with weak or underactive glutes.
Below are some of the best glute activation exercises to do, before and during your training.
Best Glute Activation Exercises Before Training
Donkey kicks are one of the best glute activation exercises. It targets the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the hamstrings.
Donkey kicks are bodyweight exercises that require no equipment.
You can do the exercises on the floor, with a bench or step.
Donkey kicks are simple yet effective bodyweight glute activation exercises that can help improve glute strength, endurance, and activation patterns.
You can incorporate them into your warm-up routine or as part of a glute-focused workout.
Ensure you use proper form, keep your core engaged, and avoid excessively bending the lower back during the movement. Doing so will help you avoid injury.
Steps to follow for the donkey kick exercises
Clamshells are a popular glute activation exercise that targets the gluteus medius, one of the smaller muscles in the gluteal group.
The gluteus medius plays a crucial role in hip stability and lateral movement.
You can do the clamshells with just body weight and on the floor. But you can add a resistance band around your knees to add additional resistance. You can perform the exercise with your feet elevated to increase the challenge.
Clamshells are simple yet efficient exercises for glute activation.
They can help improve glute medius strength, endurance, and activation patterns.
They can benefit individuals and athletes with weak or underactive glute medius muscles, as they can help activate and strengthen this vital muscle.
For best results, use proper form, avoid compensatory movements, and progress gradually to avoid injury.
Steps to follow for the clamshell glute activation exercises
Fire hydrants, aka hip abductions, are bodyweight glute activation exercises that target the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are muscles on the sides of the hips.
Fire hydrants can help improve hip stability, glute strength, and activation patterns.
Working on one leg at a time allows you to target your weaker side, helping to eliminate muscle imbalances
Steps to follow
- Start on your hands and knees, with hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Keep your back flat and your core engaged.
- Lift one leg out and to the side, away from your body. Ensure you keep your knee bent, your foot flexed, and your core engaged. Keep your thigh parallel to the floor and your foot pointing sideways. Focus on engaging your glutes, particularly the gluteus medius, as you lift your leg.
- Pause and slowly lower your leg to your starting position under control, but do not let it touch the ground.
- Repeat 8-12 reps on one leg.
- Switch legs and go through the motions with the other leg.
You can add ankle weights for additional resistance or perform the exercise on an unstable surface, such as a stability ball, to challenge your balance and stability.
Frog pumps are a glute activation exercise that targets the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the gluteal group.
They can help improve glute strength, endurance, and activation patterns, making them worth doing before strenuous exercises lie squats.
Frog pumps are typically performed on the floor with body weight and are a great exercise that engages and activates the glutes while minimizing strain on the lower back.
Steps to follow
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet touching each other, forming a diamond shape with your legs. Allow your knees to fall open to the sides, creating a “frog” position. You can relax your arms by your sides or place them on your abdomen for stability.
- Press through the soles of your feet and lift your hips towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. Keep your feet together and your knees open to the sides throughout the exercise. Engage your core engaged and your shoulders and upper back on the ground.
- Pause, then lower your hips back down to your starting position in a slow and controlled manner, but do not let your glutes touch the ground.
Add a resistance band around your thighs to add additional resistance, or place your feet on an elevated surface, such as a step or a bench, to increase the challenge.
Banded Lateral Walk
Banded lateral walks, aka lateral band walks or monster walks, are excellent glute activation exercises that target the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles on the sides of the hips.
The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles are vital for hip stability and proper movement patterns.
You will usually perform the banded lateral walks with a resistance band placed around the thighs, just above the knees, to provide additional resistance and challenge to the muscles.
- Place a resistance band above your knees and stand with at feet hip-width. Slightly bend your knees and maintain a slight forward lean in your upper body.
- Step to the side with your right foot, maintaining tension on the resistance band throughout the movement. Keep your feet parallel to each other and your toes facing forward. Ensure you can feel some tension in your glutes but do not allow your knees to collapse inward.
- Next, bring your left foot to meet your right foot while maintaining tension on the resistance band. Keep a slight forward lean in your upper body and your feet parallel.
- You can adjust the number of steps, sets, and resistance band tension to match your fitness level and goals.
- You can perform the exercise in a squat position, with your bent knees throughout the movement, to increase the challenge.
Steps to follow
Best Glute Activation Exercises During Training
Hip thrusts are a popular glute activation exercise that targets the gluteus maximus.
You will usually perform the hip thrust with a barbell, but you can use any free weight, like a dumbbell or even your body weight, instead.
We recommend you start with a lower weight if you are a novice to avoid injury.
Steps to follow for the hip thrust exercises
Deadlifts are a compound exercise that primarily targets the posterior chain, which includes the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and traps.
Deadlifts are not specifically glute activation exercises, but they can effectively engage and activate the glutes when performed with proper form and technique.
Doing the exercise with one leg on the floor allows you to target the muscles on one side of your body. That makes it possible to emphasize your weaker side, helping you to correct imbalances.
You can hold a dumbbell in one or both hands to make the exercise more challenging.
Steps to follow for the one-leg deadlift
Squats are a compound exercise that involves and activates multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and core.
Squats are not specifically glute activation exercises, but they can engage and activate the glute muscles when you get the form and technique right.
Using one leg at a time for the exercise, as in the single-leg or pistol squat, allows you to target and emphasize your weaker side, helping to correct muscle imbalances.
Steps to follow for the single-leg squat
Step-ups are lower body exercises that can work as glute activation exercises when you get the form and technique right.
Step-ups primarily target the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. You will need a plyo box, step, weight bench, or an elevated surface for the exercise.
Ensure you maintain proper form, including keeping your core engaged, chest lifted, and knee tracking over your toes to help activate the glutes.
You can start the exercise with your body weight and then make it challenging by holding free weights, like dumbbells, to increase the resistance.
Steps to follow for the step-up glute activation exercises
Lunges are a versatile lower body exercise that can.
Lunges primarily target the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
You can perform the exercise in various variations, including reverse lunges, lateral lunges, walking lunges, and jumping lunges. These add variety and challenge to your workout routine and help target the muscles from different angles and varying ways.
You can also include free weights, such as dumbbells or weight plates, to help increase the resistance
For best results, keep your core engaged, your chest lifted, and your knees tracking over your toes to help activate the glutes.
Steps to follow for the lunge exercise
Benefits of Glute Activation Exercises
Glute activation exercises target and activate the gluteal muscles, which are the muscles in the buttocks.
You can perform the exercise as part of your warm-up routines or as standalone exercises to specifically engage the glute muscles before a workout or physical activity.
Including glute activation exercises in your workout can offer several benefits.
- Improved Activation of Muscle
Glute activation exercises specifically target the gluteal muscles and help to “wake them up” before a workout or physical activity. That can help improve the mind-muscle connection and ensure the glute muscles are active during exercises involving hip extensions, including squats, deadlifts, and lunges.
- Improved Glute Strength
Glute activation exercises can help strengthen the glute muscles. These play vital roles in various functional movements, including walking, running, jumping, and lifting.
By incorporating glute activation exercises into your routine, you can improve the strength and stability of your glutes, leading to better overall lower body function and performance.
- Preventing Injury
Weak or underactive glutes can contribute to poor movement patterns, which may increase the risk of injuries, such as lower back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and ankle instability.
Glute activation exercises can help activate and strengthen the glutes, helping to reduce the risk of compensatory movements and injuries related to poor performance of the muscles.
- Improvement in Posture
The glute muscles play a role in maintaining proper posture, as they support the alignment of the pelvis and spine.
Weak glutes can lead to poor posture, which can lead to discomfort and pain. Glute activation exercises can help improve glute strength and function and help improve posture.
- Better Athletic Performance
Strong and activated glutes are vital for many sporting activities, including sprinting, jumping, and changing direction.
Glute activation exercises can help improve glute strength, power, and stability, leading to better performance.
- Rehabilitation and Recovery
Glute activation exercises can play a role in rehabilitation programs for those recovering from some injuries or surgeries, such as hip or lower back injuries.
The exercises can help activate and strengthen the glute muscles, weakened or inhibited due to the injury or surgery.
Final words from LiveLIfe
Doing glute activation exercises as part of your warm-up routine or exercise program can help ensure your glutes are well engaged, helping you to perform better and with a low risk of injury.
Incorporate these exercises into your workout regimen to help strengthen your muscles and improve your overall lower body health.
- Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, et al. Gluteus maximus activation during common strength and hypertrophy exercises: A systematic review. J Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(1):195-203.
- Stastny P, Tufano JJ, Golas A, Petr M. Strengthening the gluteus medius using various bodyweight and resistance exercises. Strength Cond J. 2016;38(3):91-101. doi:10.1519/SSC.0000000000000221