Wake Up Your Glutes

Wake Up Your Glutes Image

No, I am not suggesting you slam down some super-duper-incredible-eye-popping-muscle-throbbing energy drink that you would feel pulsing through every muscle and vein in your body.

I’m suggesting something that takes no more than a couple of minutes to complete, but can have a big impact on your workouts.

Most people nowadays perform various warm-up drills, stretches, and mobility exercises before strength training.

Now I personally don’t perform some crazy extensive warm-up; I have found that it’s just not necessary for me and doesn’t improve my performance. However, there are two glute activation exercises I use before every workout with both my clients and myself.

Many people have what I call “lazy glutes”. They just don’t fire properly when performing lower body exercises, and even stabilization exercises such as planks. And not using your glutes to their maximum potential is a bad thing.

To help address this issue we incorporate a couple of activation exercises to get the glutes to “wake up” and prepare for the work ahead.

What are the two glute activation exercises we use? So glad you asked.

The Side-Lying Clam and Glute Bridge

Here are the side-lying clam and glute bridge demonstrated by my friend Mike Robertson.

Note – Squeeze your butt hard, especially at the top. Hold the top position for a two-count and then lower back down.

These two activation exercises help to “wake up” the glutes and get them firing. Needless to say I perform these before squats, deadlifts, and other lower body exercises.

However, I also perform them during my warm-up before upper body training as well. Why? Well, think about it – your glutes are involved during push-ups, inverted rows, overhead presses, and other “upper body” exercises.

For example, when you perform a standing overhead press, you should squeeze your butt throughout the entire lift to stabilize your torso. So it stands to reason that getting your glutes “firing” before hand can be beneficial.

After your next warm-up, perform those two activation exercises for two sets of 10-12 repetitions each.

Feel free to perform these two exercises on your off days as well. Only good things can happen. And if those don’t make an impact on your lifting, you can always grab the super-duper-beast-mode energy drink . . .

Give those a try and let me know what you think.

Definitely perform these movements before your strength training session, especially when it’s lower body. I bet you’ll notice a difference.

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  • http://Website(optional) Joey Taraborelli, CSCS

    Nia, Can I chime in here for a second? My clients and especially myself have been having great sucess doing weighted barbell glute bridges(after bodyweight of course)…. even if the barbell only has 10's on it(for some) and as much as 45's per side. I feel in myself it keeps my hip flexors from becoming dominant as they were unfortunately.. and my female clients all scream at me the next couple days that their “glutes” are “wicket”(New England accent) sore, mostly from the weighted glute bridges…. Great blog again Nia, keep it up!

  • http://www.fatlossdetour.com Nia Shanks

    Thanks for sharing. I usually progress from the bodyweight glute bridge to a one legged glute bridge for the activation/warm-up. And then later the hip thrust with increased ROM.

    Yes, I use the weighted glute bridge for a main exercise, and it's awesome! I definitely use it with my females clients with great success.

    Thanks for sharing and thanks for the positive feedback!

  • http://www.women-workout-routines.com Rumiana

    And to add some variations , I like to step over a bench and do 1 leg bridge as bodyweight exercise, it kills my hamstring too. I've never did clams but will try it, also I will try to warm up glutes before every workout and will tell you results

  • http://www.fatlossdetour.com Nia Shanks

    Rumiana- I look forward to your comments!

  • Franco

    I also would add some X-walks with resistance bands

  • http://www.beautifulbadass.com Nia Shanks

    I like those too, but for simplicity I left them out because not every one has access to bands.

  • Brad


    I have really been enjoying your articles and your approach to training. Just to pitch in about glute activation, one leg stiff leg deadlifts work great as well. Stay strong.

  • http://www.beautifulbadass.com Nia Shanks


    I very much agree! Thanks for sharing. : )

  • http://twitter.com/reemasaurus Reema Siddiqui

    Great post. I landed here searching for some glute activation exercises. To my surprise I see Mike’s videos in this post. That really excites me. I am a client at his gym in Indianapolis :)!