Activate the Glutes: 3 Powerful Workouts You Can Do Anywhere

Activate the Glutes: 3 Powerful Workouts You Can Do Anywhere

Woman doing a glute activation workout
Summary:

Your glutes do more than act as a cushion when you sit. Doing glute activation workouts can make a huge impact on your well-being. Here’s how.

The derrière — it’s a wonderfully empowering part of the anatomy, isn’t it? And if you have the same point of view about it as Sir Mix-a-Lot, a well-sculpted one can give you a boost of confidence. But are there more benefits to a good glutes activation workout?

The answer is yes.

Your glutes, believe it or not, play a bigger, more important role than just a set of muscles you sit on.

Here’s what you should know about your glutes before working out your backside to be a beaut:

When your glutes are activated, they become your powerhouse — you move with stability and grace. Most importantly, if you do it correctly, their activation doesn’t take much time.

What Are Glutes?

“Glutes” is short for “gluteal muscles” and is a term commonly used to refer to the muscles of your butt. It makes up the three major muscles of this area:

  • Gluteus maximus: the largest, outermost muscle of the group that makes up most of the shape of what we know as the buttocks. Its main function is to extend and externally rotate the hip as well as bring the leg towards and away from your body.
  • Gluteus medius: the broad, thick muscle found on the outer surface of your pelvis and underneath the gluteus maximus. Its main function is to level your hips, movement, stability, and balance.
  • Gluteus minimus: the smallest muscle of the group that is situated immediately beneath the gluteus medius. It functions mainly as a hip stabilizer and brings the hip away from your body.

Simply put, your glutes help with your movements (like walking, running, and standing) as well as keeping those movements stable and balanced. 

The problem comes when your muscles are weak.

Man running outdoors

What Causes Your Glutes to Be Weak?

Sitting is a huge part of our days — at our desks during working hours to eating our meals to parking our bottoms for a Netflix binge-fest when we come home. Your glute muscles can weaken from all the lack of physical activity.

It can also be caused by poor postures, like slouching and slumping. This leads to your body relying on other muscles to perform everyday movements. And when that happens, your glutes continue to remain inactive.

Another case is that sometimes, people — men, especially — are mocked for working out their glutes. This is what Ronan Oliveira, Mindvalley’s head of Health & Fitness and trainer for the 10X Quest, experienced firsthand when he was training in Brazil.

These are the kind of exercises that you need to do at home when people are not watching. Because they will mock you,” he explains, adding that he, himself, didn’t do glute exercises for this exact reason. The result? He ended up with a lower back injury doing a deadlift and was unable to get out of bed for weeks.

The bottom line is that a sedentary lifestyle is a huge problem. So much so that the World Health Organization declared it as a leading cause of disease and disability. 

That’s why it’s important to activate your glutes.

What Is Glute Activation?

When your muscles are activated (more commonly known as “fired up”), it has the ability to consciously switch on and work. This goes to the glutes as well.

And being fired up enables this muscle group to work optimally and in synergy. Studies have suggested that it can help:

  • Strengthen your core
  • Increase your range of motion
  • Improve your balance and stability
  • Build physical strength
  • Reduce your chances of injuries

One such study found activating glutes before a workout may improve movement quality, especially with explosive exercise performance like the hang pull. 

You can activate these muscles with workouts that specifically target the glutes.  

squat for glutes

3 Powerful Workouts for Your Glutes

Strengthening your glutes can be part of your full-body workout. However, if you just want to focus solely on that area, here are three of the best glute exercises. Best of all, you can do them anywhere.

#1: Elevated glute bridge

If there’s ever a simpler, more effective exercise to strengthen your glutes, it’s this one.

According to a study published by the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, the elevated glute bridge, when combined with a lower back stabilization exercise, can have a major impact on your lower back. It can help with greatly decreasing low back pain and increasing lumbar muscle strength and balance ability.

Woman doing elevated glute bridge

How to do one rep

  1. Lay down on your back.
  2. Put your feet up on a flat, sturdy surface so that your knees are bent at a 90° angle.
  3. Your hips should be directly below your knees.
  4. Breathing out, slowly elevate your hips, keeping your abs engaged.
  5. Squeeze your glutes and hold for one second.
  6. Breathing in, slowly lower your hips back to the starting position, continuing to keep your abs engaged.

Level up your workout

If you want a little bit of a challenge, try doing a unilateral elevated glute bridge. It’s essentially the same, but this increases the intensity.

To do this exercise: Find your balance as you put your feet up on a flat, sturdy surface. Then, lift one leg. After one set (which Ronan suggests 12 reps in a set), switch legs.

#2: Dumbbell hips thrust

Hips thrust sounds like a Shakira move. But those who do it don’t deny its effectiveness.

In fact, experts agree that this exercise combined with a weight, like dumbbells, can enhance hip strength as well as improve speed and acceleration.

Additionally, a 2021 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the gluteus maximus activation during three different glute workout routines and its relationship with maximal sprinting. It found that the weighted hip thrust is the most optimal for training the glutes than two squat positions — back squats and split squats.

Woman doing dumbbell help thrust as a glute activation workout

How to do one rep

  1. Lean back on a bench while sitting on the ground.
  2. Bend your knees so your feet are planted shoulder-width apart on the ground.
  3. Hold the sides of a dumbbell and rest it above your hips.
  4. Breathing out, slowly elevate your hips up while lifting the dumbbell. Remember to keep your abs engaged.
  5. At the top position, your knees should be bent at a 90° angle, shoulders near the top of the bench, and your body forms a straight line.
  6. Squeeze your glutes and hold for one second.
  7. Breathing in, slowly lower your hips back to the starting position, continuing to keep your abs engaged.

Level up your workout

Step up your butt workout with a unilateral dumbbell hips thrust.

To do this exercise: Find your balance as you plant your feet on the ground. Then, lift one leg. After one set (which Ronan suggests 12 reps in a set), switch legs.

#3: Banded Hip Thrust

Resistance bands may look like unassuming pieces of equipment, but don’t underestimate their effectiveness.

Several studies have shown how bands help strengthen the muscles in training. For example, the 1998 study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. The researchers found that it significantly increased the shoulder strength of college tennis players.

By using it in this glutes workout, it provides continuous tension to the group of muscles.

Woman doing banded hip thrust

How to do one rep

  1. Anchor your band by looping around a fixed object, like a pole. Ensure it’s anchored as close to the floor as possible.
  2. The other side of the loop should go around the top of your thighs.
  3. Stand straight up with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Start by bending your hips to a 45° angle, keeping your back straight.
  5. While breathing out, straighten up slowly and move your hips forward. Remember to keep your abs engaged.
  6. Squeeze your glutes and hold for one second.
  7. While breathing in, slowly bend your hips back to a 45° angle.

Greatness Starts With You

These glute workouts may not seem like much compared to what you see in the gym. But there are studies that suggest you don’t need to hustle for that muscle.

Instead, working out less can actually make you fitter. And that’s what the 10X program helps you do. 

No matter what your level or your reasons — whether you’re new to the scene, looking to turn your health 180°, or amp up your workouts — Ronan and the entire 10X tribe can help you get there.


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Written by
Ronan Diego - Quest Trainer
Tatiana Azman - Mindvalley Writer