Strong glutes make everything better, and they’re critical for athletes to excel in their sports. They are the largest and most powerful muscles in the human body, so it really bugs me when I see young athletes walk in, head straight to the squat rack and progressively add weight—thinking they are warming up (usually for a max-effort lift)—instead of taking 10-15 minutes and going through a more comprehensive warm-up.
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Being a bit more methodical in your warm-up, like adding glute exercises, can make the biggest difference in your training, especially if you intend to lift an appreciable amount of load when you squat or deadlift. When your glutes are firing on all cylinders, you can generate more force, move more weight, sprint faster and jump higher.
Prior to your lower-body workout, incorporate these 4 exercises into your warm-up to get your glutes fired up.
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1. Glute Bridges
Everybody should have this basic lower-body movement down, as it works on hip extension. Initiate and finish the movement through your hips, not your lower back. Do this by posteriorly tilting your pelvis (squeezing your glutes) until you start to feel your glutes getting rock hard.
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2. Frog Pumps
Similar to the Glute Bridge, this one works on hip extension. Frog Pumps are highly effective, because you start in a more flexed position at the knee, and your hips are in an abducted and externally rotated position, both of which increase glute activity. Again, the idea is to posteriorly tilt the pelvis at the top of the movement.
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3. Banded Sumo Walks
Wrap a mini-band around your shins and force your knees outward as you move laterally. Remember: Abduction and external rotation of the hips increase glute activity. To make it more challenging, place the band on your forefeet.
4. Kettlebell Swings
One of simplest and most effective exercises to activate your glutes is the Kettlebell Swing. Focus on pushing your hips back instead of dropping down and shifting your knees forward. A lot of athletes make this mistake when performing the exercise.
After performing these exercises in your warm-up, you should feel primed and ready to go hard in your workout.