These easy exercises can be done anywhere to help strengthen your gluteal muscles. Glutes (A.K.A. butt, bottom, backside, booty or toosh), hold a lot of power and strengthening your glutes can help you become a better runner, cyclist, walker, jogger, skater, swimmer, dancer, squater….you get the idea right?! Strong glutes are a win-win for your body because they help take pressure off of your knees and back. When your glutes don’t work properly other muscles have to compensate to do the work and this can result in discomfort, pain and injuries. It is rare for the glutes take center stage because the quadricep muscles are bullies and tend to can take over many of your low body exercises. Even worse, your back and other muscles not intended to do the work, will try and compensate for weak gluteals. These exercises give your glutes a chance to “shine” and be the star of the show!
You can do these 5 exercises back-to-back or incorporate them into a total body workout.
• Supine Bridges
• Single Leg Squat
• Step Ups
All of these exercises can be done without weights, or you can add weight or resistance when appropriate.
After a short dynamic warm-up of squats, lunges, knee tucks, and figures fours, complete 8-12 repetitions of each exercise. Start with one set and work your way up to 3 sets.
1. Supine Bridges: (Double and Single Leg) Start by lying down on your back with your legs hip-width apart and feet relaxed with heels pressed into the floor. Squeeze and activate your glutes to lift and extend your hips off the floor. Don’t over-arch your spine and keep your head and neck relaxed.
2. Clamshells: Lying on your side with knees flexed and feet together, open legs like a clamshell to activate your gluteus medius muscle. You can add resistance with a band for a greater challenge.
3. Squats: Stand tall in a bi-lateral stance, and push your hips and weight back into your heels as you sit back into an imaginary chair. Keep your spine neutral (don’t collapse the upper body) and your knees tracking your toes.
4. Single Leg Squat: Use a chair or a TRX to assist. Keep your standing foot relaxed as you push your hips back with your knee tracking the toes of your standing leg. Start by actually sitting down on the chair (unless your are using a TRX) and work your way up to barley tapping your gluteus to the chair. Single leg work is s great way to feel which leg may be stronger/weaker and can help flush out imbalances in strength.
5. Step Ups: Find a strong surface that has enough room for your foot to complete a single leg step-up. Place on foot on the step or platform and push the hips back to activate those glutes, pressing your heel into the platform. Step up until you are standing upright, nice and tall, with your hips underneath your shoulders and glutes engaged. Slowly step back to the floor. Keep your knee and hip angle less than 90 degrees of flexion.