Everything You Need To Know About Activating Your Glutes

Everything You Need To Know About Activating Your Glutes

Glute activation is the latest buzz word in gyms right now, but this is much more than just another bum clench during your squats. We asked Stephen Pasterino, Victoria’s Secret trainer and Founder of P.Volve fitness to share the secret of achieving steel behinds.

Firstly, what are our glutes and why have they become a focal point?

The glutes are the foundation of the body, making it essential to have those muscles working as best as they can for everything else to fall into place. The fascinating thing about them is that they’re attached to the bottom of the lumbar spine, wrap around the pelvis and connect to the IT band which runs down to the knee and the tibia.  So, the butt is controlling the motions of the spine (the upper body) all the way down to the lower legs. Once you understand how the butt reacts and controls the motions of these bones and joints, you can then see why it’s vital to have strong glutes.

So, how does glute activation work and do we really need to do it?

Glute activation means engaging all the muscles and joints that are across the three planes of motion (frontal, sagittal, and transverse). Put simply, it’s a series of warm-up exercises that strengthen the muscles, boosting your ability to perform everything from jumps, sprints to squats. During my studies, I learned that the concept of a ‘dormant butt’ (aka a butt that doesn’t work/activate) was very common and one of the main reasons people get injured is because they don’t know how to properly engage the muscles in their glutes when walking, exercising or even carrying heavy boxes, so yes you should be doing it.

Other than boosting a lazy bum, what are the other benefits of strong glutes?

It’s the largest, strongest muscle in the body and has been strategically placed at the cross roads of the upper body and lower body as the glutes are essentially what holds everything together. When they’re activated, there’s no doubt they will help you to tone your legs, tighten your lower stomach, fix your posture and create muscular symmetry. I guarantee you’ll begin to see a transformation in your body from head to toe.

Any hard and fast tricks for firing up your glutes daily?

Try walking up to two steps at a time when you take the stairs. This will help you to get more flexion in the hips, which as a result, will boost your glutes. It’s important though to ensure you have proper glute function. So, try focusing your weight and strength in that area or else your body will rely heavily on the thighs, resulting in swelling and over-developed muscles.


Below are a few of my favourite exercises anyone, anywhere can try. When doing these moves, keep your glutes engaged and do about six to eight reps of each. Repetition is key for heating up your muscles.

1. Step back:

One of my signature (and favourite) moves, this is very simple, but highly effective. Stepping one leg back, then lifting the heel up, immediately activates your middle glute; this is a functional exercise and something you do everyday when walking and running.

2. Step forward and lunge:

This move teaches your glute to decelerate momentum by stepping forward with one foot versus backward, while also lengthening all your muscles as you use your arms and core to balance.

3. Inside rear step:

Try this if you want to specifically activate the inner glute, which is typically a dormant muscle and very hard to target. Technically a squat, take a resistant band and secure it around your upper thighs. Then bend slightly into a semi squat and step side to side using your glutes fully for the full burn.

4. Butt press:

Lay flat on your back and then lift yourself up with yours arms and legs, working yourself into a slow, controlled squat position. It will help to activate the glute from top to bottom, as well as achieving that ‘pop’ at the top of your bum.

5. Shallow rear step with toe reach:

Provides a full range of motion for your whole body. Kneel down on all fours, then take one leg back and raise your foot to the ceiling keeping your back as flat as possible. Use bands too for extra resistance. 

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