Updated: April 29, 2020
After just a few runs, we usually find that the actual act of running requires very little thought. Our bodies know how to keep us moving and we can continue to run on autopilot for miles and miles. But falling into this trap can eventually leave us with weak or inactive muscles.
One of the biggest culprits: lazy glutes.
It takes most runners a while before they realize that their glutes are doing very little to assist them on the run. Weak glutes can become a big problem for runners if they fail to realize it when it starts.
Discovering that we have lazy glutes is usually easier said than done though, as it’s hard to tell whether or not our glutes are actually working as we run along. So we continue running on autopilot until one day we find ourselves injured and are unsure how it occurred.
One of the most common reasons for these mysterious injuries is overuse or improper form as we unknowingly compensate for the muscles that lie dormant.
Which is why it is so important to activate your glutes.
To avoid weak and lazy glutes on the run, we can complete a few simple glute activation exercises to wake them up and keep them involved.
Completing this pre run glute activation routine before a run jump starts the muscles and gets them ready to engage on your run. Activating your glutes before running is a great way to ensure they assist throughout the miles.
These exercises are also a great way to strengthen the glutes.
Without targeted exercises, the glutes lose strength from inactivity and will eventually lead to muscle imbalances. Use these glute activation exercises to target the area and engage the muscles before beginning your run.
Having strong and active glutes on the run will increase your power and keep your form balanced. Glute strength is so important for runners – especially when running hills. The glutes also take some of the force off your joints, absorbing a great deal of the impact with each step.
10 Glute Activation and Strengthening Exercises
Leg Raises – each side x 20
This simple exercise does wonders to activate our glutes and hips. Complete 20 leg raises on each leg while lying on all 4 sides – your back, stomach, and left and ride sides. Try to keep your leg as straight as possible and hips level with each leg raise.
Bridge x 30 seconds
One of the best all around strengthening and activation exercises for runners is the bridge. You can choose to complete bridge lifts by lowering your hips to the floor and raising them back up again, or a bridge hold by remaining in the bridge position for a designated amount of time.
Holding a bridge is an effective activation exercise, as it forces your hips and glutes to remain active and contracted during this time period.
Single Leg Bridges x 20 each side
The only difference between a regular bridge and a single leg bridge is that one leg is elevated during this bridge. This exercise is significantly more challenging, as it isolates one side of the body at a time.
It is a great way to determine if you have any glute or hip weaknesses and ensure that each side is involved equally.
Leg Extensions with a Stability Ball x 20
The addition of a stability ball to this simple exercise brings to life many weak spots for runners. These leg extensions work the hamstrings, hips, core, glutes and back in an effort to stabilize the body as the legs move in and out.
These leg extensions will activate your glutes as they help stabilize your body while your feet balance on the ball.
Clamshells with Resistance Band x 20
Clamshells are an excellent way to quickly activate your glutes, and the addition of a resistance band just amplifies their effect. These exercises target and isolate one side of the glutes at a time. You can increase their difficulty by simply raising your top leg higher with each repetition.
Side Plank with Hip Dips x 20 each
The side plank is another isometric exercise that activates multiple muscles at one time. The hips, core, back and glutes are all active in the side plank. To shift the focus more directly to the glutes, add in a few hip dips and focus on contracting the glutes as your raise your body each time.
Leg Dips x 20
This is a great exercise that doesn’t require a gym or any extra equipment. Standing on a stair allows you to isolate one side of the body and dip even further than you would in a single leg squat. This exercise really targets the glutes and forces them to be awake as you lower and raise each leg.
Hip Raises x 20
Another exercise than can be done on the stairs is a hip raise. Rather than lowering your leg as you did in the dips, this time you will simply raise and lower your hip. The movement itself may not look like a lot, but it really works your hips and the upper portion of your glutes with each repetition.
Bosu Ball Squats x 20
Adding a Bosu Ball to a regular squad intensifies the exercise greatly. You can stand on either the flat or rounded side, but the flat side provides the greatest challenge.
Incorporating the element of balance forces your glutes and hips to not only contract with the movement, but stabilize themselves as well. This is an excellent exercise to quickly activate and strengthen your glutes.
Single Leg Toe Touch x 20
In my opinion, this is one of the most challenging exercises. As you lower into a squat with one leg extended, you will immediately be able to feel your glute on the grounded leg.
This exercise completely isolates one side of the body, making it another great way to check for any muscle weaknesses or imbalances as you compare the difficulty on each side.
Taking the time to strengthen and activate your glutes is key to success as a runner. Falling prey to weak and lazy glutes may work for a while, but as other muscles are forced to compensate, they will eventually burn them out. Stay proactive by taking the time to activate your glutes before running.
When you utilize all of your muscles to run at your full potential, the possibilities are endless.
More glute exercises for runners:
- Resistance Band Hip & Glute Workout for Runners
- The Best Exercises to Find and Fix Muscle Imbalances
- Essential Strength Training Exercises for Runners
- The 10 Best Calisthenics for Runners