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Glute Activation Exercises

by | May 31, 2019

People that have a hard time with the glute activation tests should be sure to start learning exercises to remediate glute amnesia before it becomes too much of a problem.

We should remember a couple principles in regards to improving performance in the body:

1. SAID Principle: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demand

The body will become more resilient based on the specific tasks that we throw at it. We will adapt to these demands and it will become easier to do the work. This means that if we attempt to lift heavy things, we will get better at lifting heavy things. If we attempt to hold a challenging position for time then we will be able to do a better job holding that weight for the specified time.  If we run for a defined time at a challenging pace, it will eventually become much easier to do that run.  Obviously when it comes to glute activation exercises, the increased muscle strength and stamina means that you will cover more distance with each stride and the muscles will be able to maintain that strength for longer. 

2. Principle of Progressive Overload

Because the body adapts to demands that are placed on it according to the SAID Principle, we must be constantly challenging the body to make it more durable and to allow us to progress. These are the principles of progressive overload. If we get better at holding a yoga pose, we will need to either increase the length of time that we hold the pose of the difficulty of the pose. If it becomes easier to lift heavy things, we will need to start lifting even heavier things. It will become easier to run and we will need to increase the pace or the distance if we have a specific window of time to run in.

This progressive overload should be specific to a task though when the person is starting to get conditioned. There is some overlap though between some of these areas, especially when a person is really out-of-shape. That being said progressively making them lift more weight over time will not make it easier for a person to run for distance because the task requires different things of the body.

Mobility, Skill, Endurance and Strength

There is a certain order that people should aim to affect change. People that have trouble with injuries or performance have the ability to change their circumstances. Whenever a deficiency is discovered, the person should make strides to attempt to mitigate those deficiencies. There is a specific order to approaching this.

  1. Mobility
  2. Skill
  3. Endurance
  4. Strength

Skill is really the most important of these factors  but I will explain why mobility is first in a moment. Skill is learning how to do the movement correctly. It is learning proper form for an exercise or a new way to move. It can be learning how to fire some of the small muscles in your feet or move quickly to drop into the catch position for a clean or a snatch. Perfect repetition is the only way to master a skill. You need to do the movement slowly at first and then add things that make it more difficult, like speed or weight


Look at the end of the post for the transcript from this video.

Hip Bridge Progression (Gluteus Maximus m.)

  1. Hip Bridge and Hold
  2. Hip Bridge with Marching, Alternating (Lift knee a few inches off ground)
  3. Hip Bridge with Knee Extensions, Alternating (keep knee/thigh at same height but straighten knee)
  4. Hip Bridge with Opposite-Arm, Opposite-Leg Raise
  5. Single-Leg Hip Bridge, Alternating Sides with each repetition
  6. Single-Leg Hip Bridge, Consecutive Reps per side

Your hands should be placed on your hip bones and your hip should not drop on the same side when you lift the foot off the ground.

 Below is another video with some more glute exercises.

Hello, my name is Dr. Bryan Royer, and I’m here with some more healthy hints for harmony today. We’re gonna be talking about exercises to help you with glute activation. So basically, we had talked about in a previous video about a couple of different screens that you can do to see whether or not you were glutes are actually activating appropriately.

Today is one of the things that you can start to try to get those glutes to actually work a little bit better. So the first thing that we’re gonna do, and the main thing that we’re gonna talk about is gonna be the supine hit bridge. Okay. So go ahead and bend your knee and put your feet flat. And then, when you do this, you want to actually bring your toes up a little bit, cuz you be pushing in with the heels. You don’t want to really be grabbing and pushing with the toes, because then that activates the hamstring a little bit.

So when you do this, the first thing that you’re gonna do before you actually go to lift is that you’re gonna do two things after you lift up your toes a little bit. The first thing is that you want to actually contract your core. You want to contract your abs. So when you do this, you want to take it like, try to think about you’re trying to take a punch. So you want to contract your abs, you want to squeeze them hard, but like somebody was gonna punch in the belly. So that actually helps to engage the entire core and start everything off the right way.

The second thing is that you want to actually contract your glutes before you actually go to lift off. So you’re gonna tighten in here. You want to kind of push up against where my hand would be here. And then after you do that, then go ahead and squeeze your glutes a little bit. And then, at that point, then you’re gonna lift up.

So you’re gonna lift, you go into this bridge and you want it to be basically a straight line from your knees down through the hips and up through the shoulders. You don’t want to be sagging in the middle at all. And you also don’t want to extend too much and be rounded out the other direction. So this is the way that you do the bridge. Go ahead and relax for a second.

So when you do that bridge again, you should be able to hold that for a total of 60 seconds. That is gonna be something that’s hard for a lot of people. So in order to do it, you want to work your way up to it. You can start off with holding it for 10 seconds and do it multiple times. Do it for 10 seconds, give yourself a five second break, another 10 seconds and move your way up. If you can hold it for 60 seconds without a problem, then that’s great. You can do a couple of different sets of that. And those are all gonna be good things for you.

The way to improve beyond there is to start actually adding in a little bit of difficulty by moving when you’re doing it. So I’m gonna go ahead and have you lift up again. And when you lift, again, go ahead and lift up a little bit more, make sure that everything is lined up. Go ahead and put your hands up on your hips while you’re holding it. And the way that you would do this is to make sure that you’re not really dropping a hip one side to another when you’re doing it.

Now, what I want you to do is you’re just gonna do the marching. So just go ahead and pick up a leg a little bit and then drop it back down, pick up a leg and drop it back down. And when she’s doing it, she shouldn’t have her hip dropping down on the side of the leg. That’s lifted up. You need to be contracting the core and you need to be holding on to that movement. And again, going back and forth. And again, it’s an alternating marching movement.that’s gonna go back and forth. That’s the first level to make it a little bit harder.

Make it little bit more, you’re gonna just do a kick out, where you just kick your leg out and then drop it back down. So go ahead and show that one. So all the way up, kick your leg straight out and then go ahead and drop it down. And then you’re gonna alternate to the other side. Good. Go ahead and drop. Okay. So again, that’s gonna be how you’d want to do those. For that, you’re gonna want to try to see if you can get 10 reps per side. So a total of 20. And again, you can do somewhere between three and four sets in order to try to get you so that you’re building that up.

So again, that’s gonna be a decent amount of work there again, you’re challenging it on both sides. You’re challenging the core as well because you’re not letting your hips drop. It’s an anti-rotation kind of a thing. So there’s multiple different things that go with that. Okay.

So the last one that we’re gonna show for this is gonna end up being where you basically are gonna be doing like a single leg movement at the same time. So you’re gonna kind of like squat down at the same time as you do it. So go ahead and lift up. And with this one, you’re gonna straighten the knee out, and then you want to drop down, and then come all the way back up. And then you’re gonna set the foot and then you’re gonna alternate to the other direction. You’re gonna drop down and then come all the way back up, and then you drop down. And you’re gonna alternate that back and forth. Again, the same kind of thing with that, you should be able to get to 10 reps on each side with that. But again, that’s where you want to get to eventually. You can make it so that you try and do five of them. And then do a few sets of that and then try to increase that from there. This is one version of doing it.

The next other way to make it harder is that you can do this on a stability ball. Where just the shoulders up here are gonna be on the stability ball and all this is gonna be lifted up. And that’s gonna be another way to do it. Later on you can progress to different types of squats, different types of modifications for squats or different things with a kettlebell, like a kettlebell swing or things like that. Deadlifts and single leg deadlifts with a kettlebell can also be excellent ways for you to engage your glutes. So it’s the whole posterior chain that you’re trying to strengthen.

We want to make sure that the glutes are gonna be prioritized, but at the same time, again, especially if somebody’s had multiple different hamstring pulls, you want to also strengthen the hamstring as well. So we’re strengthening the hamstring. We’re strengthening the glutes. You’re also strengthening the low back when you do this and the core at the same time.

So hopefully this has been helpful for you. If you have any comments, go ahead and leave them down below. And this is an excellent way to start getting a better glute activation and to help with some maybe nagging problems that you might have had. Thank you very much and I’ll see you next time. Thanks. Bye.



Dr. Bryan D. Royer has been practicing chiropractic medicine in the Toledo area since 2005. He has a specialty in Sports Medicine and is a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician® (CCSP®). Dr. Royer is certified as a Graston Technique® Specialist (GTS), a Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner (CKTP) and a Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES). He is also a Board-Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and he has been voted “Best in Toledo” by readers of the Toledo City Paper five times. 

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