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How to Activate Your Glutes

Updated: Feb 1, 2022


We bet you’ve heard this one before. Whether in a Middle Splits class trying to increase that active range of motion, or in a Booty class aiming to find activation at the top of a glute bridge to make the exercise that much more impactful… glute engagement is a very important part of our fitness and stretching routines!

What are the glutes, and why do we need to know how to engage them?

Glutes are THE largest muscle group in the body, and they play a massive role in everything related to power and stability.

There are 3 major muscles in this area:

  1. Gluteus maximus (the large muscle that shapes your backside). Its primary function is hip extension (bring the legs behind the body)

  2. Gluteus medius and your gluteus minimus (two smaller muscles that assist the gluteus maximus in moving your body). Their main function is hip abduction (bringing the legs away from the midline)

Being the largest muscle in the body, the glutes have the potential to take on a lot of stress - but if they are inactive, that means that stress will go to other areas of the body which may not be as equipped to handle it (yes, we are looking at you, lower back).

Engaging/activating/firing up the glutes all means the same thing: getting those big muscles to DO THEIR JOB!

What causes weak glutes?

The main reasons a lot of us humans today have weak glutes is because of our sedentary lifestyles. From the office chair to the car seat to the couch… glutes just don’t have a lot of opportunity to work the way they were intended to. Another reason is just not learning to activate them properly! Isolation exercises which focus on firing up the glutes are fantastic for that. Adding resistance can be also super helpful.

Here are 3 of Jemma’s top glute activators!

These can be done as part of your practice’s conditioning portion. They work best when completed with the added resistance and challenge (loop band and block), but don’t worry fi you don’t have those. They will still be effective as bodyweight only!


Place a loop band around your feet and lay on your side, propping your head up with the bottom hand and placing the top hand on the floor in front of you. Begin by creating some resistance with the band (top photo). Hold to let your brain register the position, then lift the top leg up to its max point (hip abduction). Hold again at the top to let your brain register the position. Release the top leg back to its starting position. Repeat (x8 reps total). Switch sides


Place one block on the flor and place one knee on top of it. Come down onto your forearms and extend the other leg behind you. Engage the top glute to lift the working leg all the way up, hold for a count at the top to let your brain register the position, then lower down to a hover. Repeat (x8 reps total). Switch sides


Begin with one knee and same forearm on the ground. The other arm will be microbent at the elbow and extended out to the side. Working leg begins extended in the direction of the same shoulder. Begin drawing big circles with the working leg, making sure not to cut any corners. Repeat (x4 circles one way, x4 circles the other way). Switch sides

Work your glutes regularly, and you’ll feel the results!

Aim to incorporate glute conditioning and activation before your splits practice (front or middles) — or any time you are doing a lower body workout.

Don’t forget to stretch your glutes out at the end of your practice - they worked hard and deserve some R&R!

Need more glute activation/conditioning help? Check out our videos below:

What other exercises do you like to do to help activate your glutes? Let us know in the comments below!

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