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Glute Activation – Your Butt May Well Be Your Most Important Athletic Asset

glute activation via a cute girl
[Never hurts to have a pretty girl demonstrate exercises for you.]

The Glutes Are the Primary Movers of the Hip Joint

First – lets define “glutes.” These are the muscles in your butt. Glutes comes from the Latin name gluteus maximus. To me it sounds like the name of Russel Crowe’s character in the movie Gladiator.

So anyway, the primary role of the glutes is to make your upper leg go in alignment with the spine. In other words if the spine and trunk are vertical – the leg must too. So the thigh is pulled down and back. This extension at the hip is primarily propelled by the muscles you are currently sitting on.

Every Movement Involves the Butt Because it Is in the Center of the Body

All natural whole body movements come from the hip joint. Running, jumping, walking, squatting, getting up from a chair – those are all movements that require the extension of the hip. So the ability to feel this muscle and contract it hard correlates to high athletic achievements. Run faster, jump higher, stand up from your chair quicker lol.

Static Force Also Originates From the Glutes

Here is the kicker – the glutes are helpful not only when actually moving your body, but also when statically contracting. If you execute the hollow position properly and squeeze the butt hard, this will allow you to generate much more force on exercises such as the military press. Grip hard and crunch those glutes and you are instantly stronger. This is a process called irradiation that allows adjacent muscles to make each other stronger by contracting. But this is a whole another topic.

How to Perform Glute Bridges to Feel the Butt Working

[This is quite a wimpy looking exercise. Not only does it look that way – it actually is quite lame. But… it teaches you to feel the right muscle working so I guess it’s OK lol.]

You need to be able to do two things. Feel the muscle work and contract it on demand when it is the primal mover on an exercise. Such is the case with barbell deadlifts, barbell squats and lunges for example.

The Dangers of a Dormant Butt

The biggest danger of not using your glutes in movements where they are supposed to do most of the work is that when other muscle kick in, your body works in an unnatural way. This can result in nearby or even far muscles and joins getting strained or injured.

For example – the lower back can get hurt if it is forced to do the hip extending job of the glutes. Or the ankles could be strained if misused due to improper alignment caused by inactive glutes.

It’s just that the body is a complex system. Mess something up and something is bound to go wrong somewhere else. Your body continues to function due to its ability to adapt, but it functions the same way a car with a flat tire continues to run.

Image: Vincent Boiteau

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10 Comments - Share Are Your Thoughts

  1. cindy

    So the glute bridge does not make your glutes bigger???? But I cant do squats, they hurt my knees (pattella pain syndrome) What do I do now to build their size up?

  2. Yavor


    Patellar pain is often caused by tight muscles (the inflammation of the tendons is caused by the muscles pulling on them).

    The glute bridge will not make your butt bigger – it will merely teach you how to use those muscles. big butt comes from being too heavy (fat) and getting insanely strong in the squat (which is unlikely and unnecessary for a girl).

    Also – why would you want to make your legs bigger? You wan’t be able to fit in skinny jeans, etc. In order to get nice tight legs, lose the excess bodyfat and learn the barbell squat or barbell deadlift but keep the reps and volume low. This means 2 sets of 3-5 reps per session is enough.

    In order to avoid knee pain with barbell squats – learn to use your glutes and hips and not primarily your quadriceps (front of the leg)

    Keep me posted,


  3. chica

    does doing intervals on an exercise bike work your glutes?

  4. Yavor


    It taxes the legs and hips, but it mainly works the thigh muscles.

    If bike intervals work for you, stick to them. If they pump up your legs too much – switch to running.

    Also – to lose weight from your butt, you don’t need to work the glutes. Just lose weight overall.


  5. ryan hattaway


    As for the glutebridge not making your butt bigger; it all depends how you use them. Sure, using body weight glute bridges will add very marginal amounts of mass if any, however barbell glute bridges (performed with a barbell on your lap) WILL add muscle and VERY well. I personally perform glute bridge with up to 560 lbs and (in the humblest way possible) have a rump that most women would envy. Please, please, PLEASE read this article,;I know the targeted audiance is men and the elite figure athlete, but it should teach you MORE than you ever cared to know about glute training:

  6. Yavor


    sounds like you have very strong abdominal muscles to support that barbell, as well as high level of athleticism (especially if your bodyweight, i.e. relative strength, is on the lower side) with such strong glutes. Awesome!

  7. Robert Mann

    I was looking for how-to the exercises in the glute activation article, because I was looking for lower-body exercises that would strengthen my legs, while I am able to get around an arthritic knee, and glute activation is my choice because I think they would be better than lunges and squats.

  8. Yavor

    Hi Robert,

    you may also try isometric exercises, such as the wall squat – you basically get in a squat position with your back against the wall.


  9. Cindy

    Ryan and Yavor thank you for the links and advice, it’s really helped…I lost 8kg since I last posted here, improved my knee pain and am now working on those glute exercises.

  10. Yavor

    Sweet :)

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