By: Casey Bergh
Having strong glutes comes with so many benefits: the most obvious being the aesthetic appeal of a well-built back-end, but let's not forget the other perks:
Glute training should always start with mobility drills to open up your hip flexors. Why? Because tight hip flexors greatly inhibit how you activate your glute muscles. Start with static and dynamic stretches as well as band work and then spend some time performing self-myofascial release to relieve tight glutes and roll out knots with a tool such as a foam roller or a lacrosse ball. Tight muscles are weak muscles that will be more likely to result in injury and contribute to a less-than-optimal training session.
If you feel you're quad or even hamstring dominant, try spending most of your warm-up focused specifically on your glutes. Some ways to warm up include the following performed in a circuit:
Single-leg hip thrusts are a great warm-up technique to use as well because you don't need any weight to get a serious burn in the glutes. Begin with both legs for 10–15 reps and then 15 on each leg. If 15 reps are too easy, try adding a dumbbell or small plate to your lap while performing these. They're also highly beneficial for correcting glute imbalances and strengthening your stabilizer muscles.
Squats performed with a resistance band using that same loop resistance band from earlier are also an effective way to activate your glute complex. Slide the band up so it is positioned just over the knees and perform a set of squats with just the bar in a narrow stance. Perform the warm-up set slowly and with conscious effort to push through the outside of your heels and activate your abductors as you come up out of the squat. Performing these with a barbell and added resistance from the band is a great way to build up to your working sets of squats and know that your glutes are warmed up and ready to work.
Choosing one or two of the warm-ups mentioned before getting to work in the squat rack or on the deadlift platform can make a considerable difference in your ability to really activate your glutes on leg day. You may find your form improves and strength increases by implementing these small but significant changes and before you know it the glute gains will ensue!