/ / Glute Activation Warm Up – 5 Best Exercises and Benefits for Runners

Glute Activation Warm Up – 5 Best Exercises and Benefits for Runners

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If you’re a runner who skips a glute activation warm up routine, it’s possible you’re not running to your full potential. Our glutes are some of the strongest and most powerful muscles in our body, yet they are often very underutilized. For instance, sitting at a desk, sleeping, driving, eating and watching tv are all things people typically do sitting or lying down. Because of this, our glutes become ‘lazy’ and inactive.

Transitioning from these activities to running or a lower body workout without proper glute activation can quickly lead to pain, an injury, and not running to your potential. However, activated and strong glutes can decrease our risk for injury and make us much stronger and more powerful runners. Below are five of the best glute activation warm up exercises to do before a run or lower body workout. Grab your resistance bands and let’s go!

A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She is holding two resistance bands and smiling at the camera. She is about to perform a glute activation warm up routine.

Why do runners need a glute activation warm up routine?

  1. Running with weak and unactivated glutes can cause other muscles in our body to overcompensate and lead to injuries. With unactivated glutes, muscles like the quads and hamstrings and the nearby joints (knee and ankle) can do more work than they should, ultimately increasing our risk for injury. For example, have you ever felt hip or knee pain while running? While there are many reasons why this might be happening, weak and inactive glutes can be one reason behind the pain.
  2. The stronger our glutes are the more powerful our stride is. Activated and strong glutes propel us forward while running. Because of this, using them to their full potential will create not only a more powerful stride but ultimately help us run faster.
  3. Performing a glute activation warm up routine will support hip extension while running. As runners, we want full extension of the hips so our range of motion is improved and so other muscles are not overworking to make up for weak hips.

How do you activate your glutes?

Our glutes are activated through targeted exercises. Unfortunately, walking for a few minutes before your run or lower body workout is not enough to fire them up. Instead, runners need to do intentional exercises that specifically target the glutes and prep them for their use.

Five of the best glute activation warm up exercises are:

  • Glute Bridge
  • Clamshell
  • Donkey Kickback
  • Monster Walk (forward/back)
  • Monster Walk (side to side)

How long should your glute activation warm up be?

Honestly, it doesn’t take that long! You can easily be done in 10 minutes or less.

5 Best Glute Activation Warm Up Exercises:

Below are five glute activation warm up exercises to do before a run or lower body workout. Ideally, move through the routine 2-3 times with 10 repetitions of each exercise. If you have a light or medium resistance band or booty band, use it for added resistance. Hope Fitness Gear and Fit Simplify both make bands with different resistance levels.

Resistance bands are something I encourage all runners to have! Here is a list of the best running gear for runners.

Glute Bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Keep your knees above your ankles. Lift your hips towards the ceiling with your weight in your upper back and heels and core engaged. Once your hips are lifted, pause and squeeze your glutes. Then, lower your hips back down to the floor, briefly touch your back to the floor, and repeat. Keeping your core engaged will prevent your back from overarching. If you have a light or medium resistance band or booty band, loop it around your legs just above the knees for added resistance. I like to use a medium booty band for this exercise.

A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She is lying on the ground with her knees bent and with a red resistance band around her thighs.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She is lying on the ground performing a glute bridge with a red resistance band around her thighs. Glute bridges are part of a glute activation warm up routine.

Clamshells (perform each leg)

Lie on your side with your hips and shoulders stacked. Bend your knees out in front of you at about a 45 degree angle at the hips. Keep your feet stacked in line with the rest of your body. Slowly lift your upper knee so your legs look like a clamshell opening. As you’re lifting your knee up, make sure your hip is not moving back. Lower your knee back down and repeat. If you have a light or medium resistance band, loop it around your legs just above the knees for added resistance.

A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She is lying on the ground on her side with her knees bent out in front of her. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts about to perform a clamshell. She is lying on the ground on her side with her knees bent out in front of her. She is lifting her top leg up and has a blue resistance band around her thighs. Clamshells are part of a glute activation warm up routine.

Donkey Kickback (perform each leg)

Position yourself on your hands and knees with your hips above your knees. Slowly lift one leg up behind you, keeping the knee bent at about a 90 degree angle. Lift until the hamstring and quad are in line with your back and squeeze the glute muscle. Slowly lower the leg and repeat.

A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She is on her hands and knees in a tabletop position.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She is on her hands and knees in a tabletop position performing a donkey kickback with one leg extended up and out behind her. Donkey kicks are part of a glute activation warm up routine.

Monster Walk (forward/back)

Loop a light or medium resistance band around your legs just above your knees. With your feet apart in a wide stance, squat slightly down keeping your knees pushed out and above your ankles. Extend your arms straight out in front of you and slowly walk forward with your knees out and in a slight squat position. Then walk backwards keeping the same position.

A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs and is standing with her feet shoulder width apart. Her knees are slightly bent and her arms are extended out in front of her. She is about to perform a Monster Walk, which is part of a glute activation warm up routine.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs and is standing with her feet shoulder width apart. Her knees are slightly bent and her arms are extended out in front of her. She is taking a step forward.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs and is standing with her feet shoulder width apart. Her knees are slightly bent and her arms are extended out in front of her. She is taking a step forward and is performing a Monster Walk, which is part of a glute activation warm up routine.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs and is standing with her feet shoulder width apart. Her knees are slightly bent and her arms are extended out in front of her. She is taking a step forward.

Monster Walk (side to side)

Loop a light or medium resistance band around your legs just above your knees. With your feet apart in a wide stance, squat slightly down keeping your knees pushed out and above your ankles. Extend your arms out in front of you or put them on your hips. Take small sideways steps in one direction and then reverse in the other direction.

A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs and is standing with her feet shoulder width apart. Her hands are on her hips and her knees are slightly bent. She is about to perform a Monster Walk, which is part of a glute activation warm up routine.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs. Her hands are on her hips and her knees are slightly bent. She is taking a step to the side.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs. Her hands are on her hips and her knees are slightly bent. She is taking a step to the side. She is performing a Monster Walk, which is part of a glute activation warm up routine.
A woman is wearing a black tank top and black shorts. She has a blue resistance band around her thighs. Her hands are on her hips and her knees are slightly bent. She is taking a step to the side.

And there you have it! By now, your glutes should feel fired up and ready to go.

Eager to become a faster and stronger runner? I would love to help you reach your running goals! Click here to learn more about my run coaching services.

Recap of Why Runners Need a Glute Activation Warm Up:

Ideally, it’s best to include a glute activation warm up routine before a run or lower body workout so you:

  1. Stay injury free
  2. Run with a more powerful stride
  3. Have full hip extension

Comment below:

Do you activate your glutes before a run?

Do you notice a difference while running when you do activate your glutes vs. when you don’t?

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