5 Moves To Wake Up Your Glutes
Exercise 1: Single-Leg Glute Bridge
When bridging up, make sure to drive through your heels to avoid arching your lumbar spine. When done correctly, this exercise can activate more gluteal muscle than a 1RM max squat, so high reps aren’t a must. This is a great warm-up movement to gear your heavy squats, deadlifts, or the other weight-bearing glute exercises listed here.
Exercise 2: Hip Thrust
To perform this exercise, you need an exercise bench on which to rest your shoulders and a barbell, although a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell could also work. The weight should lie across your pelvis on top of a barbell pad, Airex pad, or one of the other random cushions lying around the edge of the gym. Elevating the shoulders—and in time, the feet—will help focus more of the tension on the glutes rather than the hamstrings or quads. You want to feel the burn here.
Exercise 3: Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat is highly effective with a heavy load, even if that load is still a fraction of what you could lift with bilateral squat variations. Dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, barbells, and chains all work well to add weight and intensity in unilateral squats, but be warned that each also comes with unique balance challenges.
Exercise 4: Kettlebell Swings
There are many benefits to the kettlebell swing, but for the purpose of this article, they hammer the glutes and train your hips to become more adept at hinging and generating power. There’s no need to rush to that heavy of a weight for the rest of us, though, so build up slowly like you would for any other loaded movement. Another benefit of the swing is that lifters who have a firm command of it tend to excel in deadlifts, squats, and hip thrusts. The swing also emulates the large amounts of horizontal force produced by the hips of trained sprinters, making it a worthwhile complement to any sprinting program.
Exercise 5: Step-Ups
To perform a step-up, use either a barbell or dumbbells and step up to a solid platform that is of knee-height or slightly higher. People often ignore the eccentric component—the step back down—but it’s just as important as the eccentric portions of any other movement. Be sure to return to the ground in a controlled manner to get the most out of the step-up.