Muscle Activation: The Glutes!

In a recent blog post, I wrote about how “regular people” can incorporate pro-athlete training techniques into their everyday workouts. For example, muscle activation techniques were briefly touched upon.

Muscle Activation means recruiting certain muscle groups, that, when are not firing, can be problematic for movement quality. This article presents a more comprehensive protocol for muscular activation that anyone can use without fancy equipment as part of their warm-up.

Today’s Focus Is the Glutes!

The term “glutes” refers to the three gluteal muscles (Gluteus Maximus, Minimus, and Medius). in addition to the “big 3”, we are also looking at the surrounding supporting muscles such as the Piriformis and Tensor Fascia Latae – which are important for assisting gluteal movements.

This anatomy lesson isn’t really important, what is important is to know how the muscles function. These muscles work to extend the hip, externally rotate the leg, and abduct the leg (bring is away from the body).


Glute Bridges are the easiest progression of glute extension exercises. Remember we are using this movement as an activation exercise so no need to do loaded Glute Bridges in warm-up as we do not want to fatigue the muscles, simply recruit their neurons to start firing.

As seen in the video, the next progression is Marching Glute Bridges and then Leg Drop Glute Bridges. These require greater stability and therefore incorporate more core involvement.  Doing Glute Bridges from a bench will decrease hamstring involvement and focus more on the glutes as the prime mover. The video also shows the same progression from a bench for greater glute focus.

Finally, to eliminate some low back involvement, try doing Cook Hip Lifts from the ground or a bench.

This is not an exhaustive list, and by no means should they all be done in one workout, but rather start with easier variations and progress and you become better. Also I would suggest placing a hand on your butt to make sure you feel the glutes contracting. This proprioceptive aid will help with recruitment.

Next Page - Abduction and External Rotation


Alan is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach and Exercise Physiologist with a Masters in Kinesiology. He has worked with some of the NHL's best hockey players amongst many other athletes and continues to do so as he develops his career in writing about fitness and training as well.

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