Part 3: Bootilicious – Activation
Ok so you’ve rolled out your hips and have loosened and lengthened the tight muscles.
Next, you’ve got to get the appropriate muscles activated – you’ve got to warm up those butt cheeks!
Most of us are quad dominate and our butts aren’t firing on all cylinders. So a few moves can get your glutes awake and ready to work.
The moves below aren’t the only moves you can use, but they are some that I like. They really make you feel your butt cheeks so that during your workout you will be well aware that your glutes are ACTUALLY working.
These moves may be funny…and yes…some of them are very Jane Fonda…but they are seriously EXCELLENT at what they do!
- Sit and squeeze – One of the simplest moves you can do to activate your butt cheeks is literally sit there and squeeze your butt cheeks. If you can’t do this, then you probably aren’t using your glutes at all during your workouts. If you are doing this properly, you should feel like you become taller.
- Kneel and squeeze – So in this one you are kneeling on one knee. So if you are kneeling on your right knee, with your left knee up, you are going to drive your hips forward and really squeeze that right butt cheek. You aren’t leaning forward, you are simply squeezing and hold that back butt cheek. You can make this a bit tougher, if you stand on one leg and bend the other knee to 90 degrees and squeeze the butt cheek of the standing leg. The standing move has the bonus of working on your balance!
- Fire hydrant – So this move basically mimics the move a dog does to pee on a fire hydrant so I’m assuming that is where it got its name. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Flex your feet. Then raise one leg out to the side, keeping the knee at 90 degrees. Try to not let the foot get higher than the knee or the knee get higher than the foot. Really squeeze the butt cheek as you lift. Repeat all reps on one side before moving on to the other side.
- Straight leg lift – To make the fire hydrant more challenging or to just add some variety, do a straight leg lift. So on hands and knees, straighten one leg out to the side and then lift that straightened leg. On both the fire hydrant and the straight leg variation, make sure NOT to bend your elbows. The straight leg move is tough and you may not lift the foot very high off the ground. Don’t force it or rotate. Just really isolate the glute. It should be firing on the first lift!
- Donkey kick – So setup just as you would for the fire hydrant. Instead of raising the leg out to the side, you are going to kick the leg straight back. Keep the knee bent close to 90 and keep the foot flexed. Don’t let the low back arch. Make sure that as you lift you are squeezing the butt cheek of the leg you are raising! Also make sure the foot is driving straight up to the ceiling. And do not let your elbows bend.
- Hip Circles – So this move combines the donkey kick and the fire hydrant with a knee drive. To do this move setup on hands and knees. First drive the knee back and do a donkey kick. Then without lowering to the ground, bring the leg out to the top of the fire hydrant move. Then without setting the knee down, drive it forward into the elbow. Keep the foot flexed the entire time. When you drive into the elbow, you should really feel your abs engage. Then lower the knee down and repeat.
- Clams – So these can be done with or without bands for resistance. If you use a band, put it around both legs right below the knees. Lay on your side, propped on your forearm. Place your feet on top of each other and bend your knees to just above 90 degrees. Then without rotating, open the top knee, squeezing the glute. A great way to do this at first is to set up with your butt right against a pole or a wall so you can’t rotate. You are opening your top knee and driving it up toward the ceiling by squeezing your glute. Lower down slowly if using a band and repeat.
- Glute bridge – So this move deserves its own whole post and will get it, but the basic glute bridge is a great activation/warm up move so I had to include it. Lay on your back with your feet about hip width apart. You should basically be able to touch your heels with your finger tips. Then bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Drive your elbows, shoulders and heels into the ground as you drive your hips up. Make sure your knees do not fall apart. Actively squeeze your butt as you drive your hips up. If you feel this a lot in your hamstrings, make sure that you aren’t driving off your heels backwards. You shouldn’t feel like you are driving back into your shoulders. You want to actual feel like you are driving your knees forward over your toes even though you are driving through your heels.
- Posterior Plank – So this move looks like a move right out of Flash Dance to me (maybe she could get her hips up a bit higher, but yep….it is the exact move. Start seated on the ground with your hands behind you. It is best if you can turn your finger tips toward you. Push up onto your hands and heels. Drive the hips up as high as you can and really press your chest out. Relax your head back.
- Band walks – So a great active way to warm up that butt. You place the band around both feet. To make the move easier, for one you can use a lighter band. For two, you can place the band up above your knees or even right below. The higher up the band the easier the move. The closer to your feet, the harder the move. Two great walk moves that I do…one forwards and one sideways. Walking forward…walk with monster steps out to each side. Do not let the feet come all the way back together. Also walk backwards back. Then walking sideways…just like a shuffle. Take a big step out to the side then bring the other foot to almost meet it, keeping tension in the band. Make sure the toes stay pointing forward. Don’t rock side to side. Keep the knees bent and take as big a step as possible.
So those are my top 10 activation moves. You don’t need to do ALL of them each and every time. I usually choose 2-4 depending on which ones I plan to do and what workout I’m doing that day. Today, since I was doing a posterior chain workout with single leg deadlifts and swings, I did 4 activation moves to make sure the glutes were really really awake.
Check back next week for a break down of some great butt STRENGTH moves! And if you missed it, or your butt cheeks are now active and ready to workout, try one of these deadlift variations!