They are the largest muscles in our bodies — the glutes do so much for us, whether we realize it or not. Yet, due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and other aging-related degeneration that takes place in our bodies, we tend not to use our glutes as much as we should. Sitting all day at a computer, for example, can diminish our ability to activate the glutes when needed. And, all the squats and deadlifts in the world won’t be effective for building the booty, if we are not activating our glute muscles. Below are 7 warm-ups to help you ensure you are working those glute muscles to the max during your next leg day.
- Foam roll your hip flexors. The front of your hips around the area where they hinge can get really stiff from sitting all day. If you work at a desk job, you are more prone to the shortening of this muscle group. To help combat that, foam roll them for at least one minute per side before performing any leg exercises where you want to achieve glute activation.
- Leg swings. Swing your legs front to back and side to side. Do at least 10 swings per side and start with a shorter range of motion working your way up gently.
- Donkey kicks. Get on all fours and kick your leg back and up. Keep your back/spine in neutral and feel it in your glutes. You can add a booty band or ankle weights to increase the resistance.
- Booty band clam shells. Lay on your side and put the band around your legs just above the knees. Keeping your ankles together, separate your knees from one another. Do 20 reps per side for two sets.
- Booty band side step. Place the band around your legs just above your knees and lunge into an almost seated position, keeping your head up, spine/back in neutral. Walk from side to side, feeling the side of your glutes. Do 20 steps per side.
- Bird dog. Get down on all fours and lift your arm and opposite leg, keeping both straight. This works your glutes but also helps you work on bracing your core, which is critical for leg exercises, such as squats and deadlifts.
- Facing the wall squats. This helps perfect your squat form but also loosens the hip flexors and gets you ready to squat lower than parallel, which is what you ideally want when working the glutes. Face the wall, close enough that your knees brush the wall when you squat. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10, trying to lower your backside as close the ground as possible.
All of these warmups will help you prepare for the best booty building session. You don’t need to do them all. I typically foam roll and then choose two other warm-ups, depending on what I feel needs some activation. Then, during the workout, think about your glute muscles activating and imagine they are doing all the work. This helps focus your effort appropriately to prevent other muscle groups from taking over. The minute you feel like other muscles are working harder than your glutes, lower the weight and use your mind/muscle connection to reset, using your glute muscles to move the weights.
After your workout, remember to stretch/cool down. You don’t need a ton, but a little stretching or foam rolling will help calm the muscles and prevent stiffness and injury later.