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Glute Strength and Activation

In the third series of strength and re balancing with Master Trainer Elaine Huba, we talk about Glute Strength and Activation. Elaine will discuss the following elements which relate to glute strength and activation:

  1. Activating the glute min
  2. Activating the glute med
  3. Activating the glute max
  4. Bird Dog exercise for glute activation
  5. Mini Band exercise series for glute activation

Many players focus on interval training, sprinting, plyos and endurance running but a lot of those players neglect focus on our largest muscle – the gluteus maximus – along with the other glute muscles including the glute min and glute med. Not only are the glutes important for power and speed but also for knee stabilization, which is extremely important in ultimate frisbee, especially given how many knee injuries we see happening.


Elaine introduces glute activation

1. Activating the glute min
Stabilize the hip in a side lying position by stacking one hip directly over the other and keeping the spine straight. Keep the leg on the floor straight with the foam roller directly infront.  Bring the top leg into a 90 degree angle on the foam roller and ensure it stays in contact throughout the exercise. Flex the foot and move the ankle upwards by  rotating in the hip. Place your fingertips on the hip to feel the muscle contracting and squeeze as hard as you can while keeping the proper positioning on the roller. The glute min is a very small muscle which will need concentration to isolate.

Do 2 sets of 10 twice a week.

2. Activating the glute med
The clamshell is a external rotation exercise which works and activates the glute med. Lying on the side, bend the legs into a 45 degree angle. Keep the hips stacked and the spine straight. With the heels pressed together, separate the knees and actively squeeze the glute muscles. Bring your top hand on the hip and place the fingertips in the hip crease to feel if the hip flexor muscles are working. Try to minimize the hip flexor activation and focus on the glute muscles firing.

Do 2-3 sets of 12-15 2 times a week.

3. Activating the glute max
This bridge exercise is a variation to actibvate the glute. Start lying on your back with the heels on the ground and legs at about 90 degrees. Squeeze the glutes as hard as you can and ‘pop’ up as high as you can. Try to minimize the hamstring activation to isolate the glute muscles.

Do 2 sets of 8-10. Do this one as part of your warmup before training.

4. Bird Dog exercise for glute activation
The bird bog exercise improves motor control in the glutes and stabalizes the back muscles. Start in a table top position, looking down and contract the muscles right below the belly button. Extend one arm overhead while using the glutes to straighten the opposite leg. It is important that the hips and shoulders stay squared while you maintain core engagement. Alternate sides to begin or to increase the intensity, do all reps on one side (without bringing the knee back down on the ground) before you switch sides.

Do 2 sets of 8 per side before your workout.

5. Mini Band exercise series for glute activation
The mini band is a great tool for activating and working the glutes. If you don’t have a mini band attached as a loop, you can take a physio theraband and tie it together. Tie tightly with a couple knots or it may fling off! Step into the theraband and place it above the knees.

Perform squats, keeping the knees out in line with the second toe for 2-3 sets of 10-15. For side steps, come into a squat position and take small, controlled steps to the side for 10-12 rps, both ways for 2 sets. Ensure the hips stay low in the squat position and refrain from any bouncing movement.

This exercise series should be incorporated into your warmups before training.

You can find out more about Elaine Huba at:

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