In the fitness community, several people make the mistake of doing glute activation exercises after doing their actual glute workouts. While it can lengthen your expected workout time, glute activations can help you build that mind-muscle connection, which is necessary for muscle growth.
Without glute activation exercises, you wouldn't know if you're targeting the right muscle groups. Otherwise, you may be simply going through the motions when you go straight to your glute workout without proper activation. In the following, we'll be discussing certain glute activation exercises you can do, both at home and at the gym.
1. Glute Bridge
This move is commonly used as a glute activation exercise that's mistaken with hip thrusts. The glute bridge is often done on the floor and acts as a bodyweight exercise, whereas hip thrusts are elevated and use dumbbells. To start the glute bridge as an activation exercise, lie down on your yoga mat, with your knees pointed towards the sky and your feet flat on the floor.
Begin by lifting your glutes and hips, resulting in a diagonal position from your chest to your thighs. Avoid overarching your back and glutes too much but rather, your body should be in a straight line and your core should also be engaged. You should also be squeezing your glutes in the process and feel your glute muscles working.
2. Donkey Kick
This is a popular glute exercise that's also considered an isolation move, which is why it's perfect to include in your glute activation. Start on an all-fours position facing your mat, with your palms and knees to the ground. Begin by lifting one leg to the back but instead of a straight leg, it should be at a 90-degree angle with your thighs parallel to the floor and the rest of your leg pointing towards the sky. Pump your glutes as high as you can on this position for as many repetitions as you can do, and do the same for the other leg. Even as a bodyweight exercise, donkey kicks activate your glutes effectively.
3. Fire Hydrant
As another isolation exercise, the fire hydrant workout is very effective in activating your glute medius and improving your hip stability. To begin this exercise, begin in the same position that you started with the donkey kick but except for swinging your leg to the back, you lift it to the side, maintaining a bent 90-degree angle. Your leg should be parallel to the floor and you should feel your glute muscles working. Do this exercise for both sides. Be sure to lift your leg as high as you can.
4. Hip Circles
This activation exercise is the combination of both donkey kicks and fire hydrants. You can begin this exercise the same way you started with the previous exercise on this list. Start by doing the fire hydrant move and then gradually bring your leg up to a donkey kick position and bring your leg back down, resulting in a circular motion. This targets several muscles in your glutes all at once since it's the perfect combination of two exercises. Do this activation exercise for both legs.
Compared to other glute activations mentioned above, this one targets your side glute muscles. To begin this exercise, start by lying on your side with both legs bent at a 90-degree angle. You can also opt to use a resistance band for this exercise to make it extra challenging and to really feel the burn on your side glute muscles. Start by opening your outer leg as wide as you can towards the side, resulting in a clam position, and closing it back together. Make sure that you're squeezing your glutes each time you open your outer leg to the size.
6. Bird Dog
While this isn't considered as an isolation move since this targets several muscle groups at once, the bird dog exercise still targets your glutes to help you build stability and help you with the mind-muscle connection. To begin this exercise, start the same way you started with your fire hydrants, which is an all-fours position. Begin by lifting your left leg up and really squeezing your glutes as you do this. At the same time, lift your opposite arm. Both your lifted arm and leg should be opposite to one another. Do this move as many times as you can while really working on your stability, core, and squeezing your glutes.
7. Side-Lying Leg Lift
This is a great move to target your glutes and it's perfect for both beginner and advanced gym goers. You can also choose to do this activation exercise with a resistance band. To begin, start in the same position you started with the clamshell exercise, except your inner leg is bent while your outer leg is straight.
Start by lifting your outer leg to the side and go as far as you can, especially when you're using a resistance band. This exercise might seem easy, but it's an isolation move that targets your glutes just enough to help you work on your mind-muscle connection. You should also avoid swinging your leg in their air and just going through the motions. Rather, you need to lift your leg while squeezing your glutes in the process, so you really feel your glute muscles working in this exercise.
In conclusion, I hope this article was able to shed insight into everything you needed to know on glute activation exercises. Even if you're anticipating starting your workout right away, it's not a good idea to work on your glutes without even a short glute activation workout.
Doing glute activation exercises before your actual workout helps you target the right muscles during your actual workout, especially when you're planning to use weights and resistance bands. The most ideal activation exercises are those known as isolation exercises, which generally means that it specifically targets one muscle area. Your glutes are one of the most challenging parts of your body to target, which makes activation exercises very important.