Fire Up Your Glutes

Powerful hip function has always been critical to achieving athletic success – and the glutes are the prime movers of our hips. In our previous blog, Building a Better Butt for Athletic Success, we examined exactly why glutes are so important for athletes.

When we are looking to improve glute performance in runners there are three key initial aspects:

  1. Activation – getting the muscle ready to work 
  2. Activation/Synchonization – getting the muscle to work when you want it to work and in the correct firing sequence
  3. Strength – making the muscle stronger so that is can perform its role more effectively and efficiently

This blog is going to some important exercises that we use with our athletes to achieve the first two goals -Activation and Activiation/Synchronization. The third blog in this series is going to focus on exercises which strengthen the glutes for improved athletic performance.

Running athletes – when presented with issues pertaining to the glutes – are often prescribed the clam exercise in one of its many variants. The clam is a useful exercise especially at a very introductory level and when done well is excellent at isolation the glute med. The difficulty often becomes, however, taking that isolated muscle and making it perform in a sequence which will allow the muscle to play its role in functioning to improve performance.

The exercises we have described below are ones that we have found to be highly effective in both “waking up” the muscle so that it is ready to work and preparing the muscle to work as part of a synergistic unit to improve performance. These exercises work both glute med and glute max such that once activated the athlete will be ready to perform either their running or strength based session much effectively and efficiently.

Monster Walks

Place the theraband around your ankles. Start with feet hip width apart and adopt a “cowboy” stance – feet pointing predominantly forward and knees partially bent slightly turned out. There should be a slight bend forward at the hips as if you were about to play a golf shot. Keeping the hips facing forward and the hips level take a large step to the right and then slowly (to a count of 3) take a half step with the left foot towards the right (the half step will keep plenty of tension on the band. Then take a second step with the right. After you have completed 10 steps to the right then repeat the process heading back to the left.

We normally will performance two sets in each direction – with the second set having a much larger “hip hinge” or larger bend forward at the waist. As the athlete fatigues they need to fight the temptation to either stand up taller or raise the hips.

To increase the effect on glute med place the band around the arches of the feet rather than around the ankles (if you do this its best to use a band with a more resilient fabric).

Arabesque Rotations

Start supporting leg with partially bent knee. Hold arms wide for balance. Lean forward at the hips while keeping neck in line with spine then rotate spine in one direction as far as possible while reaching one hand towards ground. Undo the rotation and return the standing position. Repeat exercise rotating in the opposite direction. Do 10 total rotations then repeat on the other leg. You can alter the exercise to increase the endurance effect on glute med by rotating in both directions before returning to the standing position.

Skater Lunge With Hip Flexion

From a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart, slowly step your left leg back diagonally behind your right leg. Lower into a lunge until your knee almost touches the floor and the rear foot just touches the ground. At the same time reach your left hand across your body and towards the ground. As you return to the standing position Flex your left hip and bring your left foot to stop beside the right knee. Build up to doing 20 reps on one leg and then change sides.

If you would like more information and/or more assistance in exercise selection and prescription feel free to contact Damn Fit Strength and Conditioning:,  visit the website or call Dave directly on 0426 205 277

Author: DamnFitSC

Coaching athletes since 1988. Post Graduate qualifications in Sports Coaching. Accredited with Australian Strength and Conditioning Association. Have coached athletes across numerous sports at local, state, national and international level.

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