Glute Activation vs. Glute Training

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I have been fairly active on social media the last 3-4 weeks. I am mostly trying a few strategies so that as many people can see what we do at Evolution as possible.

So far, so good. Well, except for some of the interesting content that I am finding.

One thing I noticed is that I see a ton of glute activation work.


Glute activation exercises are really important for getting the glutes to turn on. When we sit for long periods of time the glutes almost kind of fall asleep. Your glutes are just like me, once asleep they don’t want to wake up.

These exercises are really important for a number of reasons. Active glutes set the stage for:

  • Improved lower body strength
  • Core stability
  • Decreased back pain
  • Better hip mobility
  • Better chance to reduce knee and ankle pain/injury risk

I guess we can say that getting the glutes going is important.

We can use a ton of different exercises to get glute activation. I really like lateral band walks, clamshells, single leg bridges, and other exercises that focus on squeezing the glutes.

There is only one small limitation with glute activation. Exercises like clamshells only activate the glutes. I stole that line from Charlie Wiengroff off the Twitter machine a little while back.

The point he is trying to make is that glute activation is different than glute strength training.

Our glutes can be as active as we want, but if they are not able to produce force then we are still going to have a problem.

Glute training is a little bit different. It requires that we resistance train the glutes.

When it comes to strength training we must be striving to add to the total training load. At some point lateral band walks will stop providing strength benefits and switch to more of an activation role.

By using strength training we are going to be able to increase the amount of muscle fibers recruited by the glutes. We can also get some size benefits. I think this is why football coaches want a lineman with a big ass; lot of force production potential.

If we can increase the amount of force that the glutes can produce most athletic skills and lifting will benefit tremendously. Not to mention that most people have glutes that are dramatically weak.

Training the glutes are easy and no one really has an excuse to not hit those exercises. Bad back, knees, or shoulders? Too bad you can still hit some loaded glute bridges or hip thrusts.

Yes, the glutes must be activated to work well. We can use activation exercises in the warm up or before the main lift of the day. Just don’t forget to actually train the glutes.

There are a million ways to do this and to load them up appropriately. Some favorites are below.

Deadlifts, because deadlifts are awesome

Hip Thrusts, Bret Contreras has a PHD and this exercise was a big part of it

Loaded Glute Bridges- one of the easiest ways to train with heavy weights

Bowler Squats since nothing ever makes my glutes as sore as these