Build Your Booty: The Importance of Glute Activation

Posted by Claire Woodward on July 30, 2022

The trend is all over social media - growing your glutes and building a well-rounded butt - but how are these influencers actually doing it? Proper glute activation is one of the most important and most underutilized factors in growing your glutes properly, and many people online don’t show the actual process itself. Listed below are some exercises to help even the newest gym-goers achieve their fitness goals.

What is glute activation?

Glute activation refers to the process of warming up, or “firing”, of the three muscles making up the glutes. These muscles are the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus.

  • Glute maximus - the largest muscle in the body, responsible for hip extension and external rotation, balance
  • Glute medius - internally rotates the thigh, pelvis stabilization, thigh abduction
  • Glute minimus - hip stabilizer, abducts the hip

Glute muscles

Why is glute activation important?

Many of us have jobs or lifestyles where we sit for the majority of our days. All of this sitting causes our glutes to be underutilized and weakened. This can cause a wide range of mobility issues and other muscle imbalances down the line.

The glutes help to stabilize the hip, core and low back muscles. These muscles are all very important muscles for posture and sports performance. If they are weak and underworked, other muscles and ligaments may overwork. This can lead to IT band pain, low back pain, SI joint pain, hip pain, pelvic floor pain and more.1

What exercises can I do?

There are many effective exercises you can do to fire up your glutes, with and without gym equipment. If you’re new to weight lifting, body weight warm ups/exercises are a great place to start when looking to build muscle and increase performance. Exercises that can help fire up your glutes include glute bridges, clamshells, lateral banded walks, and more. These exercises are beneficial to do before more weight-bearing exercises.

Other exercises will present even higher levels of glute max activation. These would include step ups and their multiple variations (including weighted), as well as other weight-bearing exercises such as deadlifts, hip thrusts, lunges and squats.2

3 Exercises to Help Activate Your Glutes

Step Ups

Make sure to plant your whole foot in the center of a bench (or any other flat platform), lean your torso slightly forward over your lower body to help isolate the glutes and protect your back, and step up entirely onto the bench.

 Step up start

Step up finish

Banded Lateral Walks

Start by putting a mini-resistance band around your ankles or above your knees - once the band is in place, you’ll start in a half-squat position, and move laterally (to the side) in half steps. You should not let the band go completely loose between steps - keep it tight to engage your glutes even more!

Side stepping start

Side stepping finish



Glute Bridges

Begin by lying flat on the floor - make sure to tuck your hips in to stabilize your core and protect your lower back. With your feet planted on the ground, push your bottom upward until you are in a straight line between your shoulders and your knees, and squeeze your glutes. The pictured example is shown using a resistance band to help gain even greater recruitment of your glutes.

 Bridge start

Bridge finish

Overall, glute activation will help in more ways than just growing your glute muscles. It can aid in postural changes, core strengthening, balance, back pain, muscle imbalances and more. If you want to really change the way you work out your lower body and achieve positive physical results, give these glute activation exercises a try! If you would like to work some of these exercises into your regular workout, contact one of our trainers on the Fitness Floor and they can help you to get started.

Finally, remember that social media can be fake - not everyone has the most perfect, rounded glutes that you see online. Don’t get discouraged however - it takes time, effort and determination, and with this combination, you’ll see results in no time! Happy lifting!


  1. How to activate your glutes. Rebalance Physical Therapy and Wellness. (2022, April 10). Retrieved July 13, 2022, from

  2. Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, Aguiar R, Chola TA, Sampaio VL, Gama EF. Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. J Sports Sci Med. 2020 Feb 24;19(1):195-203. PMID: 32132843; PMCID: PMC7039033.
Claire Woodward

Claire Woodward

Claire grew up in Pine Island, Minnesota, just a short drive from Rochester. She is an Exercise Science graduate from Winona State University, and is a Certified Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine. In her free time, Claire enjoys working out, playing soccer, spending time with friends and family, and watching movies.

Contact: Claire Woodward

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