How To Activate Your Glutes (Your Butt Muscles!) – TechniqueWOD

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This week on TECHNIQUEWOD, we are talking about glute activation. These simple warm-up drills will allow you to use your butt more effectively in the gym, which is an awesome way to quickly boost performance on squats, pulls, sprints, jumps and every movement in-between.

There are a few reasons why this is a great idea. 

First, no one wants an undersized, dysfunctional pancake ass, right? That’s an obvious enough cosmetic incentive. But there are real health and performance costs associated with poor glute activation.

The more quadriceps dominate you become, the greater your risk of knee and low back pain. Just consider what happens when the knees come crashing together during a squat. Primarily, the glutes are weak and cannot maintain external rotation of the hip, which is a big problem.

Even more to the point, you’ll never reach full strength if you can’t generate force rapidly all the way to terminal hip extension. This is the root cause of many hitched deadlifts, weak second pulls, and slow sprints. It’s also a fabulous way to strain synergistic muscle groups, like the groin and hamstrings, as they struggle to compensate for your lazy ass.


Start your training here.

Here are some great warm-up exercises to try:

  1. Squeeze and hold your butt for sets of 4-5 seconds, then relax. Repeat that 5-10 times. This is the simplest way to potentiate the glutes and get them used to contracting before your heavy strength sets.
  2. Work the glute bridge, including single-legged and loaded variations. This is a simple, amazing exercise that you can do anywhere.
  3. The sprinter wall drill is amazing! Place your hands on a wall while you maintain an erect, slightly forward running position. Raise one knee high and hold it for 5 seconds, while you drive through the ball of your down foot. Don’t let your body round. Keep the back knee straight. Alternate legs for 3-5 sets. You will feel this working, no doubt.
  4. Banded pull-throughs are fantastic. Tie a light band around the very bottom of a power rack. Step over, grab the band, and step out and away from the rack with a slight forward lean. Now, simply perform a stiff-legged style deadlift to stretch the band and extend the hips. Keep your low back neutral. Pinch a penny at the top. You will definitely feel your ass working here.
  5. This is not a glute drill, but you want to couple these warm-up movements with a hip-flexor stretch. Try the world’s greatest stretch, or a couch stretch, both with and without band tension. It’s a must, especially if you are in the habit of sitting around too much during the day.



A final note. 

Remember, on these movements the goal is not to knock out lots of reps with heavy loads. Focus instead on squeezing and activating the right muscles through a full range of motion. Once you’ve got a great ass pump going, you’ll know you’re ready to train!

To learn more about programing strength work for that ass, don’t miss the premiere of episode 179 of Barbell Shrugged this Wednesday, May 27th. We had a blast filming it, so I know you’re going to love it.

Move well,

9 Responses to “How To Activate Your Glutes (Your Butt Muscles!) – TechniqueWOD”

  1. Nate

    I know that increased glute strength can help with alot of issues, in my specific question area, the squat. If my knees lean a little forward but not a lot of problems turning in, can this this be corrected with gear i.e. weightlifting shoes? Just to be able to sit back a lot more and take some weight off the knee?

    • Chris

      Your knee can come forward, it’s ok. You just don’t want this to be excessive, especially if you’re heels are popping up at the bottom of your squat. If that’s the case, wear the WL shoes. If that’s not an issue, you can wear whatever lifting shoe style you want, flat or heel. It’s your preference.

  2. David

    If when I do glute bridges my glutes activate but my hammies do too, is that a bad thing? Am I patterning improper activation because the hammies are involved? Or is that okay?

    I am making strides in my glute activation but do not want to get it wrong and have to start over again.



  3. Stephanie

    Through all of these glute activators and exercises, I’m finding my hip flexors tightening up on me. Is this normal, or are my flexors getting in the way of my glute performance? I’ve also noticed that when we have a squat heavy program at Crossfit, my hip flexors tend to tighten up and get sore. Could weak glutes be the problem?

    • Chris

      No, you should not have those issues. They might be overworked, or in need of way more TLC with mobility and recovery.

  4. Sara

    When I do glute bridges or heavy squats I primarily feel it in my adductors…normal? Or are the glutes not firing?

  5. Ali

    How would you compare the stiff leg banded pull to an RDL in regards to the hip extensors? Why might the single leg banded deadliest not be applicable to full hip extension?


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