The Importance of Activating your Glutes

Glute Activation has been such a hot topic within the fitness world for quite some time, but why is that? Is there any truth or solid reasoning behind the practice or can we classify it as a fad like we do with many of the trends that seem to flow through the fitness industry? 

What are glutes?

Let’s get back down to the basics before we delve into the heavy stuff, what exactly are your glutes? Formally known as the gluteal muscles, in the more day to day slang, they can also be referred to as your butt, bottom, booty… well the list goes on, but you get the drift. The gluteal muscles are made up of three major muscles; the gluteus maximus (the main, largest muscle within the area which shapes your rear), gluteus medius and gluteus minimus (the two smaller muscles which assist the gluteus maximus in moving your body). 

Rundown on how to achieve Glute Activation

Glute activation is completed at the start of a workout as it is a series of warm-up exercises which aim to properly strengthen the gluteal muscles, increasing your ability to strengthen and tone them throughout your workout. Think about it as switching on a light switch before your workout. If you are about to commence a leg dominated workout but haven’t effectively warmed up your gluteal muscles, more often than not your quad muscles will be taking most of the load as you haven’t turned them on (or in this scenario, turned on the switch). Part of the problem is that if the glutes aren’t active, it can make your hamstrings, quadriceps and calves disportionately stronger, making it harder every time for you to target those glute muscles, as the stronger muscles, by nature, will click into force first. However, by activating your glutes you are doing just that, you are turning them on so that they are ready. 

Why is it important for our glutes to be activated?

Aside from the aesthetic benefits, because let’s face it, who doesn’t want a beautifully sculpted and toned rear? There are a number of legitimate reasons as to why it is important for our glutes to be activated and targeted during a workout. First of all, having strong glutes helps in removing pain within the lower back, quads and hamstrings as it will take on some of the load and will even it out. Secondly, if you are not activating your glutes, other muscles will compensate and if you are lifting heavy weights, this can lead to serious injury. 

Whether you are walking or running, as your place down your left foot, your left gluteus medius is responsible for controlling the height and stability of the right side of your pelvis. If your glute muscles are not strong enough, the right pelvis will dip, causing the lumbar spine to compress along with the joints and intervertebral discs. Over time, this will cause quite a significant amount of pain within the lower back. The same principle goes for the opposite side. Alternatively, another action can occur from the same scenario in which the body will try and compensate for the weak gluteus medius by overworking the quad muscles. Again over time this will result in the shortening of the muscle and will leave you with serious trigger points and pain.

But the next question which springs into our minds is why are people’s glutes so inactive and why is it difficult to target them if they have not been activated prior? We generally don’t activate any other muscle group within the body, so why do we need to activate the glutes? Well the answer is quite straightforward in the fact that the glutes main purpose is for sitting on. Majority of the day for most people is spent sitting down at a desk. Even the most active people spend a proportion of their day sitting down. As a result of this, it means that the glutes are in ‘sleep’ mode and are less prepared to take on strenuous exercise so they pass the load onto the other muscle groups. 

So how do you avoid this? Well to activate your glutes of course. Glute activation doesn’t need to take long, 5 to 10 minutes before the start of your workout is plenty of time to get those muscles warmed up and ready for a productive session. The best and most efficient way to complete your activation exercises is by using booty bands. Resistance bands allow you to workout anywhere, anytime and are the perfect tool to use to activate those glute muscles, as they isolate the muscle, which ensures that it is being targeted. 

Needing a few glute activation exercise ideas? Check out one of our most recent blog posts which explains how to complete a few of the most popular activation exercises. Otherwise, take a look at our Peach Builder ebook workout guide which contains all of the information that you need to know if you are wanting to build your peach!