What’s the difference between a glute activation and a glute workout anyway? Find out how activating your glutes can improve the quality of your life!
Q: What does Big Foot do to keep his glutes in shape?
But….does he activate them, though??
Navigate to the Strength category on the Peloton platform and you’ll find no shortage of classes that focus on building a booty. They’re literally called Glutes & Legs classes. But (no pun intended), building the glutes and activating the glutes are two entirely different things. In this week’s episode, Crystal and Angelo discussed the benefits of glute activation to alleviate knee pain and that conversation, in turn, inspired a few class recommendations in The Clip Out Group and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a deeper dive into the topic, especially because it affects so many of us.
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes….and Glutes!
First the basics. What’s the difference between a glute activation and a glute workout anyway?
Activation = good morning glutes! Time to wake up! Workout = please, please, please don’t make me climb even a single step because I will make you regret it instantly.
As a whole, the gluteal muscle group is made up of 3 different muscles: the gluteus maximus (the main character), the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus (the supporting characters). And, in a perfect world, all three of these work in harmony to keep us strong, functional, and pain-free. But, in the real world–the one we live in that keeps us in our seats more than it keeps us on our feet–those supporting characters (the medius and minimus) take a further backseat to the hip flexors, who are happy as can be to stay engaged all day long while we sit, sit and sit some more. The more we sit, the stronger they get, and the stronger they get, the less the glutes are recruited (especially the supporting muscles) and that’s one big invitation to some kind of postural misalignment. To put it plainly, overactive hip flexors and underactive glutes can lead to pain in your entire posterior chain, from your head to your shoulders to your knees, to your toes, and everywhere in between (including your lower back, which should be a part of the middle-aged version of that song).
Hannah Corbin, Glute Activation Queen
A Brief Overview of Activating the Glutes–what, why, and how?
Now that you know the basics, here’s the what, the why, and the how of it all. Glute activation simply means warming up the butt muscles so they’re ready to work. We all know that warm-ups are crucial to workouts. Even if we don’t do them, we know we should. Our muscles need that wakeup call to know that it’s go-time. Muscles that aren’t recruited as often (say, because we sit a lot), need even more of a wakeup call to fire up those neurons from the muscle to the brain. Those muscles need a little more time and attention and activation. Because, without that activation, the muscles that are used to the starring role will continue to seek the spotlight while the less active muscles get lazier and lazier and become accustomed to not being used. Lazy muscles rely on other muscles to do their job for them, an imbalance is created and, all of a sudden, your body is out of whack (and possibly in pain). Glute activation isn’t just for a pre-workout warmup, however. Glute activation is important for all the tasks you do on the daily: walking, lifting packages, standing in line, chasing your kids, etc. So, how do you liven up these lazy glutes and get them to come back to the party? Patience, diligence, and exercise, of course! Working on your mind-body connection is also helpful. If you’re having trouble engaging, try focusing on that specific muscle. Or, give yourself a hand, literally, by reaching back there and giving it a squeeze as you’re flexing. Afterall, as Adrian frequently reminds us, if you don’t squeeze your glutes, who will*?
*with consent, of course
Glute Activation classes can be found across all the platforms, including Pilates, Barre, Yoga and Warm Up classes
User tested recommendations:
Ready to get those glutes activated? We asked our faithful TCO listeners to chime in with some of their favorite glute activation classes and they did not disappoint. Add any one of these 10 classes to your next stack to really feel the burn, and get all 3 of those glute muscles working the way they should be.
And, although it may feel like it when Hannah Corbin is killing your glute med with a way-too-perky-for-the-pain-she’s-causing smile on her face, keep in mind that you’re not trying to burn your smaller glute muscles out, you’re just trying to wake them up and remind them that they have have a job, too. And, by doing these activations on a regular basis, you’re priming the muscles to do the work, whether that’s in a strength class, on a run, or just living your life which, in turn, will pay dividends, both in the quality of your workouts and in your quality of life.
Glute activation is a life-long journey, most especially as we age (which we all do!), so we want to know your favorite glute activation classes. Link them in the comments!
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