Of the many mistakes I’ve made in my years of running (cough attempting to run without a sports bra when I forgot one…painful) the one thing that’s always been part of my routine is a full body dynamic warm up, yes that includes the glutes!
Let’s talk about not just warming up for a run, but how do you warm up for a glute workout! I’ve got a full routine for you below.
They’re both pretty basic and designed largely to warm up my muscles, but not waste time because well…I think that’s why most runners completely skip the warm up. Time.
None the less it’s SO FREAKING important.
Working with a performance coach after knee surgery, I realized that I could actually take my running up a notch by improving the quality of my warm up. Again, I know, you don’t feel like you have time.
BUT, what if a better warm up:
- Allows you to run faster with the same effort
- Ensures you remain injury free
- Allows you to run farther with the same effort
- Helps you to engage more muscles
- Helps to prevent muscle imbalances
- Improves post workout recovery
Well, shucks when you point out all those things it seems like the elite runners might just be on to something with their more advanced warm up. In fact, is this one of the things that sets them apart? Probably.
You can still follow the quickie dynamic warm up that I shared, but I’m upping my game!
What are Glute Muscles?
The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles located in the buttocks. These muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three and is responsible for a range of movements like hip extension, and internal and external rotation. It’s the muscle that’s mainly at work when you’re doing activities like climbing stairs, standing up from a sitting position, or—you guessed it—running.
The glute medius and glute minimus are smaller but still quite important.
They’re situated on the side of your hip and play a vital role in stabilizing the pelvis, especially when you’re standing on one leg or moving side to side. These muscles help with hip abduction, which means lifting your leg to the side (toward the ceiling), and they also assist in inward and outward rotation of the hip.
Your butt muscles are involved in almost every lower body movement you can think of—walking, running, jumping, and even simply standing still.
Because they play such a crucial role in mobility and stability, keeping your glutes strong and flexible is essential for both athletic performance and everyday activities.
Should You Warm Up Before Glutes?
Do you HAVE to warm up your glutes before a workout? No.
But should you do it? Yes! Especially if you’re doing a hard workout in the gym.
Warming up your glute muscles before a run or even a lower body workout helps improve blood flow to the muscles and activate the mind-muscle connection, preparing them for more intense activity and reducing your risk of injury. It can also improve your range of motion, which means you’ll likely perform better during your workout.
Most importantly, a good warm-up can help athletes prevent injuries, which is vital for anyone who wants to stay consistent with their fitness routine.
Who Should Do Glute Activation Exercises?
Glute activation exercises are beneficial for pretty much everyone. Especially if you sit at a desk all day, activating your glutes has so many benefits.
For people who spend a lot of time sitting, glute activation are some of the best exercises to counteract the muscle imbalances that come from long periods of inactivity. This can help correct poor posture and reduce the risk of lower back pain.
Runners and athletes can gain better performance through glute activation.
As the glutes are integral to many movements, from running to lifting weights, having them fully engaged can enhance your workouts and reduce the risk of injury. Activating your glutes before a heavy leg day at the gym, for example, will help you lift more efficiently.
How Do I Activate My Glutes in a Warm-Up?
A warm-up can include light cardio like walking, dynamic stretching, and targeted activation exercises.
- Light cardio gets the heart rate up and the blood flowing.
- Dynamic stretching, like leg swings or walking lunges, can help increase flexibility and prepare your muscles for more intense work.
- Exercises such as glute bridges or clamshells focus specifically on engaging the glutes, making them more responsive during your main workout.
So, how do you warm up your glutes? Here are some of the best glute activation exercises you can do before a run. (And all you need is a resistance band and your own bodyweight.)
Glute Activation Warm Up
I’ve recorded a lot of the moves that are now included in my warm up for a very specific reason: glute activation!!!
Most of us don’t realize how shut down our glutes are from hours of sitting every day. Ensuring they’re active prior to running means you’ll get more force, your hips are less likely to be overworked and you’ll almost automatically run faster.
Goals of a good warm up:
- Muscle specificity to the activity
- Increase blood flow to muscles
- Improve muscle activation
- Prepare the body for movement
- NOT static stretching, we don’t want to lengthen muscles
The GENERAL warm up I’ve been using for years is still a great option. It’s kept me injury free and works well, but a little more specificity is taking things to the next level!
Descriptions of the glute activation exercises you’re seeing in the video.
March in Place
Alternating between your left foot and your right foot, practice your foot landing right below the body, which is what we want during the run.
Often we’re landing ahead of the body, but the best form is right below your core, so this helps you get used to finding your center of gravity.
As you continue the warm up you can progress to moving the march forward and back or picking up speed, but ALWAYS feet landing under the center of your body.
Skips with Swing
Lightly skip back and forth while swinging your arms around the body like a full hug. We neglect that our arms are a big part of the run, so get them going too.
High Knees/Butt Kicks
If you practice these while moving forward that’s awesome, you’ll be focused on the movement and landing your foot right beneath the body. When space doesn’t permit, it’s ok to do in place for 20 reps.
Reverse Lunge/Side Lunge
Slow and steady, focus on both feet pointing forward and really pushing off the moving leg to get back to your starting position. We’re now moving in to focused muscle activation.
Banded Walk/Monster Walk
With band around knees, squat down with butt back and chest up. Slowly walk forward while maintaining the same knee width and without bringing your butt up. After 20 steps, walk backwards. (Really hard to keep your knees out at the same width!!)
This is going to start waking up your glutes.
Banded Knee Rotations
Continuing with firing up the glutes and the hips. Band around knees, squat down with knees hip width apart and chest up. Keeping left knee stable, rotate right knee in as far as you can and then all the way back out.
8 reps, then do other side, then do both knees at the same time. (if you aren’t burinng, you aren’t doing it right!)
World’s Greatest Stretch
It might seem like a static stretch, but it’s not because you’re constantly flowing through the movements.
- Take a LARGE step forward with right foot in to a lunge.
- Bend to place both hands inside your right leg and then rotate to right hand up in the air.
- Place hands back down on both sides of right leg, bend left leg to get a hip flexor stretch.
- Straighten left leg again, then straighten right leg with toes up to stretch hamstrings.
- Bend both legs, placing left knee on ground and pushing up through the right leg.
- Repeat on left leg.
- 4 times each side
Bend over and place hands on ground, walk out to a plank.
Go in to a push up, you can go down to knees to get good form.
From a full plank position, tap your left shoulder with right hand and right shoulder with left hand, do NOT let hips move.
From plank position, keep hands on floor and start to walk feet to hands.
Start to walk back out once you’ve walked as far as you can.
I’ve repeated this ad naseum, but studies show that 5-10 minutes of walking have resulted in runner farther with less effort. If you’re really ready to go then jog lightly…yes JOG…as in really slow and easy compared to your normal run pace.
I hope this gives you some new ideas to start waking up those glutes. If you’ve never gone to work with a performance coach, running coach or anyone else like that…trust me you’ll get so much more than I can share in one post!
Just a few sessions of doing this with Aaron at Panther Physical Therapy, along with some form drills has already had an impact on my running. And I’m recovering from surgery! Imagine what a difference they’ll make when my legs are all back to 100%.
Why Do Runners Need Strong Glutes?
The glutes are the powerhouse muscles for running. They help propel you forward, support your pelvis, and stabilize your hips. When your glutes are strong, they take on more of the workload, reducing the stress on other parts of the body like the knees and lower back. This can be a game-changer in terms of both speed and endurance.
Weak glutes can result in poor alignment and running mechanics, leading to common issues like knee pain, shin splints, and even lower back pain.
When the glutes aren’t pulling their weight, so to speak, the surrounding muscles have to compensate, which can lead to imbalances and injuries over time.
So after you warm up, let’s look at some other ways to improve that strength:
- Glute Strength Exercises for Runners
- Full Body Strength Training for Runners
- 30 Day Core Program – 10 minutes a day hitting hips, glutes and core
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