4 Glute Activation Exercises That'll Fire Up The Booty

Do them before any workout!

glute activation

Alex Richardson is a Registered Nurse, qualified Pilates Instructor and owner of Duo Pilates. She has a passion for educating and inspiring people to use Pilates and movement to improve their quality of life. She believes that in order to train our body the right way, we first need to train the mind to acquire body awareness. Follow her on @duopilatesau.


One of the most common complaints I hear from female clients is that they cannot get their glutes to work properly, yet that is the body part they want to work the most! Have you ever done squats, lunges or any other glute focused-exercises at the gym, only to wake up the next day with sore quads and hamstrings?
Here, I will explain why this could be happening and then take you through 4 Pilates glute exercises that you can do before your workout to get your glutes firing!

Why you should be activating your glutes:

The glutes play an important role in stabilising the whole body. There are three glute muscles; Glute Minimus, Glute Medius, Glute Maximus. All three glute muscles should work together to provide power and stability and assist in good posture. However, sitting at a desk all day and lazy postural habits can cause the glutes to become lazy and weak. When our glutes become weak or inactive, we tend to over-activate other muscle groups (like the quads and hamstrings) which can result in poor posture, lower back pain, knee, hip, ankle and/or foot issues, just to name a few. The good news? Knowing how to activate your glutes can dramatically improve your movement and decrease your chance of acquiring an injury. I have had many clients experience a reduction in their back pain and increased mobility, simply from learning how to activate their glutes correctly!
Pilates is without a doubt one of the most effective ways to strengthen your glutes. Attend any Pilates class and expect to perform a variety of glute activation exercises, that will have you struggling to sit down on the toilet two days later!
I am going to share with you some of the most common glute exercises that I teach to my clients who have trouble activating their glutes. To get the most out of your workout and get that booty of yours firing, try adding the following four glute activation exercises to the start of your workout.
NOTE: You can do all of these exercises with or without a resistance band around your legs. I would suggest starting off with no resistance band and then progress to a band after a week or two.

1. CLAMSHELLS

glute activation exercises
Image: Duo Pilates

HOW TO: Lie on your side with your knees bent and your feet together. Stretch your bottom arm out behind your head and rest your head onto your arm. Create a little gap underneath your bottom waist, straighten out your back and engage your abdominals.

  • Lift your top knee up, while keeping your hips still.
  • Lower your knee back down and repeat.
  • Perform 20 reps on each side

2. SIDE-LYING LEG LIFT

glute activation exercises
Image: Duo Pilates

HOW TO: Lie on your side with your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. Stretch your bottom arm out behind your head and rest your head onto your arm. Create a little gap underneath your bottom waist, straighten out your back and engage your abdominals.

  • Lift your top leg up, keeping it in the bent position
  • Lower your leg back down and repeat.
  • Perform 20 reps on each side

3. HIP LIFTS

glute activation
Image: Duo Pilates

HOW TO: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  • Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips all the way up until you have a straight line from your shoulders, hips and knees.
  • Try to keep your glutes switch on as you lower back down and repeat.
  • Perform 2 sets, 20 reps each.

4. SIDE GLUTE KICK OUT

glute activation
Image: Duo Pilates

HOW TO: Start in a 4-point kneeling position with your shoulders above your wrists and your hips above your knees.

  • Angle your right knee out to the side and then proceed to press your leg out to the side. Try not to let your left hip fall to the side.
  • Bring your leg back in without letting it touch the ground and then repeat on the left side.
  • Perform 20 reps on each side

Aim to complete these 4 glute activation exercises 2-3 times/week for a month and see how you go. When people ask me how long it takes to see results, I always refer them to this famous Joseph Pilates quote because I think it is pretty spot on!
glute activation joseph pilates
Make it your goal to add these 4 glute activation exercises to your regime for 10 weeks and I can guarantee you will notice an improvement in your bodies functionality (and the size of your booty!).
Visit www.duopilates.com.au for more!

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