As a Corrective Exercise Specialist, weak gluteus muscles are one of the most common imbalances that I see in my practice. It is especially common in folks who spend lots of time sitting, no matter how active they are. Weak glutes can be a contributing factor to all sorts of problems, including low back pain, hamstring strains, patellofemoral syndrome aka anterior knee pain, patellar tendinitis, achilles tendinitis, IT band syndrome, and poor performance in running or other sports. When the gluteus muscles are weak or inactive, some other muscle or group of muscles has to compensate to get the job done.
Glute Activation Exercises
Here are just a few body weight exercises that can help to activate and strengthen the gluteus muscles:
The basic bridge exercise primarily targets the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in the human body. Simply lie on your back with hands at your sides palm up, feet flat on the floor hip width apart, abdominals engaged. Without arching your back, activate your glute max to lift your hips off the floor. Hold at the top of the movement (as shown in the photo) and slowly lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat 12-20 reps. You should not feel any cramping in your hamstrings – if you do, that is an indication that your glutes are weak and your hamstrings are doing double duty.
Side Lying Hip Abduction
This exercise primarily targets the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, aka hip abductors. This exercise is best done side lying with your back against a wall to keep you in proper alignment. Simply flex the bottom hip to help stabilize your trunk, then with a straight leg slide your foot up the wall until your hip is abducted approximately 30 degrees. Hold at the top for 2 seconds before slowly lowering back to the floor. Do 12-20 reps.
This exercise targets all external rotators of the hip including glute max and the “deep 6.” This exercise is also best done against a wall to help prevent rolling on to your back to compensate for poor technique. Both both knees flexed, keep feet together while rotating the top knee up toward the ceiling. Hold at the top for 2 seconds before slowly lowering back to the start position. Do 12-20 reps.
Once you have the basics mastered, try this glute activation circuit:
Do you have weak glutes and want to know the best exercises to get the results that you want? Call me today and we’ll do an assessment to find out!