1. After desk jockeying 40+ hours a week, some serious glute work is necessary to get ready to perform. You got that right, you sitting on your ass is literally stealing your gains by deactivating one of the strongest groups of muscles in your body.
2. Activation of the glutes should be done on a daily basis, but emphasized on lower body heavy training sessions, along with dynamic conditioning such as sprinting.
3. The objectives of glutes activation techniques are to increase blood flow to hypoxic tissues and conduction velocity of nerve signaling, coordinate synergistic movement dynamics, and perfect movement quality.
If you spend enough time in the iron game, you will eventually stall in progressions of the loads or performances you are able to handle with success. As any triple-A personality will tell you, these are some dark days. No matter what you do to break through these walls of hell, your numbers don’t budge. It’s no secret that the squat and deadlift the most difficult movements to master. They will humble you to the core with their lack of loaded progressions. It is no coincidence that both of these compound movements are largely centered around the gluteal complex. The glutes are the key to success, or failure if you don’t prepare intelligently.
After desk jockeying 40+ hours a week, some serious work is necessary to get your glutes ready to perform. You got that right, you sitting on your ass is literally stealing your gains by deactivating one of the strongest groups of muscles in your body. Spending the extra few minutes dynamically activating your back side not only help you put up numbers, it will emphasize efficient and effective movement patterns that will translate into greater overall performance.
Top 5 Glute Activation Techniques
There has been a lot of talk about glute activation techniques, and more specifically, why we specifically need to target the glutes, and how exactly to implement them into your program for maximal benefits. Here’s the simplified answers to the monumental questions:
Why do we need to target the glutes with activation techniques?
As mentioned above, sitting is killing our orthopedic health as a culture. Sitting does a few key things to our biomechanics; shortens our deep and superficial hip flexors, flexes our lumbar and thoracic spine, while dumping our pelvis into a anterior tilted position. This leaves us hanging out on non-contractile tissues all day, putting undue pressures over structures like intervertebral disks and ligaments.
From a chemical standpoint, sitting compresses the glute tissue to the point where it becomes hypoxic (lack of oxygen). This hypoxic environment is ideal for scar tissue formation, and decreasing the efficiency of nerve conduction to the contractile tissues of the glutes. Studies have shown that after 15 minutes of medium force compression, a tissue can become hypoxic. Compare that to your daily routine in the office…yes, we have a problem!
How can we implement glute activation into a fitness routine?
The best way to bullet proof your body (mainly your lower back and pelvic region) from pain and dysfunction is to keep mobile and active throughout the day. If your lucky enough to have an active job such as a personal trainer, you have the ability to stay moving throughout the day, and when you are ready to train, activation becomes second nature. If you are sitting throughout the day, you are going to need more advanced techniques before you are ready to perform. Fact of the matter, the more you sit, the more activation you will need to program.
We will talk about specific programming protocols below, but adding a few key movements into a warm up will save you a lot of pain (both mental and physical) in the long run. Activation for the glutes should be done on a daily basis, but emphasized on lower body heavy training sessions, along with dynamic conditioning such as sprinting.
Below are my favorite five gluteal activation exercises. There are countless other movements that did not make the list, but this list is a great foundation to start. Specific individuals need specific programing, so give all the movements a try before sitting down and programming your warm ups around these movements.
1. Hip Thrust
2. Prisoner Jump Squat
3. Standing Hip Abduction
4. Reverse Hyperextensions
5. Dynamic Deadlift
Activation Exercise Programming
When programming activation techniques, we first need to define the goals of the movements. It is important to remember that these movements are not progressive resistance exercises, and should not be programmed as such. The objectives of activation techniques are to:
Increase blood flow to hypoxic tissues
Increase conduction velocity of nerve signaling
Coordinate synergistic movement dynamics
Perfect movement quality
The variables you must take into account when programming activations are sets, reps, rest and load. Here are some basic recommendations for starting points for all variables for activation techniques for the glutes:
Rest: 45-60 seconds
Load: 25-50% 1RM
Time to get off our asses and activate those glutes! Consistent progressions in the big movements in your arsenal take concentrated effort and efficient programming. Adding proper activation techniques for the gluteal muscles can make the difference between a plateau and a PR, not to mention enhancing your lower back health at the same time.
Time to make some necessary changes to your routine. Time to add a few properly programmed activation techniques into your warm up. Get ready to reap the benefits of muscles that work the way they were originally designed to function!