6 Exercises To Fire Up Your Glutes
Lockdown or not, we're still sitting all day. We work at our desks, slouch on the sofa, drive or hop into a car to go to the supermarket – never mind that one might suffer from dormant butt syndrome aka gluteal amnesia aka a flat bottom.
It's not merely about appearances, though a firm, round derrière is a perk.
“Your gluteal muscles are made up of the gluteus minimus, medius and maximus, and are the largest muscles in your body” explains ACE-certified personal trainer Junying Lim. “They’re responsible for the most basic but important functions, like holding your body upright, walking and preventing injury."
Because they have a major impact on your overall strength, a set of strong glute muscles improves athletic performance. You'll run faster and safer, jump higher with explosive power, and as you age, move with better agility.
“When you sit all day, your muscles aren’t engaged at all and basically go to sleep,” she says. “Weak glutes cause tight hip flexors and hamstrings, putting pressure on your lower back and over time this can lead to lower back and joint pain."
The good news is, you can reverse the negative side effects of sitting. For starters, maintain good posture at your desk. Keep your feet flat on the floor, relax your shoulders and don’t round your upper back. Switch on your glutes by squeezing them in your seat – no one will see! You also need to get your lower half moving. Walk, run, and do compound exercises to get your buns burning.
Below, Junying demonstrates 6 exercises to wake up and strengthen dormant glutes. You’ll need a short circular loop band for most of the moves. Using a loop band adds extra tension, stabilising and further challenging your muscles.
For every move, do 12 to 15 reps. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
Place band around legs above the knee. Stand up straight with feet shoulder width apart; keeping your chest up, back and head straight.
Think about driving the hips back as you stick out your butt and lower your body into a squat. Hinging properly at the hips will prevent added stress to your knees.
Your knees should also be aligned with your toes and shouldn't cave inwards. If you find that your range of motion is limited, widen your feet and point them out slightly.
Slowly raise your body to starting position. Repeat.
Tip: Check that your torso is parallel to the tibia (shin bone) as you lower yourself into a squat. It's a good indicator of proper form.
Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and your gaze straight ahead.
Brace your core, then step forward with one leg and lower your hips until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your knee is stacked above your ankle, not pushed out forwards. Your other knee should only just skim the floor, not rest on it.
Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to starting position – don’t forget about that core!
Place the band just above your knees.
Start with your feet just outside hip width apart.
Bending your knees slightly, take a step sideways. Bring in the other leg, and repeat.
Tip: To increase difficulty, put band above ankles instead, use heavier resistant bands or increase the number of steps.
Standing Donkey Kickbacks
Loop band just above your knees. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and keep your core engaged.
With your hands against the wall, shift your weight on your left leg. Keep both legs straight as you lift your right leg directly behind you, with your foot flexed.
Squeeze your core as you kick your right leg back. Don’t lean too far forwards or arch your lower back.
Slowly draw your right leg to tap the floor, keeping tension in the band. That’s one rep. Repeat, then switch legs.
Loop band just under your knees.
Placing your right hand against the wall for support, stand upright with your toes facing forward.
Lift your right leg off the floor, with your foot flexed; shifting the weight into your left foot.
Slowly bring your right leg down to meet the left.
Repeat, then switch to the other side.
Tip: To ensure you're engaging your glutes properly, keep your hips square and try not to move them as you do this exercise.
Loop band just under your knees.
Stand tall with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly pointed outward.
Keep your chest up and your shoulders slightly back. They shouldn’t round forwards.
Engage your core, then shift your weight to your heels and push your hips backwards – think about sticking your butt out behind you.
As you return to standing position, contract your glutes and push your hips slightly forward.
It's key that you bend from your hips, not your spine. Take extra effort not to flex your back.
Junying Lim is an ACE-certified personal trainer at Physique Studio. She specialises in helping people with weight loss, improving general strength, conditioning and targeted fitness training, across all levels of fitness. Get in touch with her here.