In recent years, there has been more awareness and research done on the importance of strengthening of the gluteus muscles. In my years of working with athletes, I preached the importance of proper core training to them. The core is more than just your abs & obliques, it includes all of the muscles of the torso and hip. Known as the powerhouse of the body it is crucial to build strength and maintain balance for proper & effective movement through space, coordination, and fewer injuries.
As an athletic trainer, whenever my athletes came to me regarding an injury, I ALWAYS started my evaluation at the hips. I truly believe everything starts at the hips, and if there is a muscle imbalance, muscle weakness, or joint rotation it can go up or down the kinetic chain and manifest as an injury in a different part of the body.
The problem, however, is most athletes (especially runners) have underdeveloped glutes and/or don’t fire them properly. Although those who workout may think that they are properly training their legs and core, but unfortunately a great deal of most training routines don’t contain exercises that isolate the glutes and engage the muscles properly.
Below are some suggested exercises for the everyday person who is looking to isolate and strengthen their glutes:
- Double leg glute bridge – Body weight, dumbells, band just above the knees
- Single leg glute bridge (left & right) – body weight, dumbbells
- Clam Shell (right & left side lying) – Body weight, weighted, band
- Donkey Kicks (body weight, weighted, or theraband)
- Lunges (I prefer reverse, easier on knees) – Body Weight, Added Weight, Slider
- Single Leg Deadlifts
- Kettle bell swings
Glute Activation Tips:
- Always initiate movement at the hips
- Contract your glutes before performing the movement
- Contract your entire core throughout the movement
- Try to perform exercises unilaterally
- Always make sure to be warmed up prior to exercising
- Make sure to stretch after exercising
Jessica M. Thomas MS, ATC