Exercise! - Butt Muscles - Activate!

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Song of Surly
01-28-2013, 07:13 PM
Okay. How do you get your glutes to activate during squats, step-ups and other leg/butt exercises? I appear to be very quad dominant, and while I am doing such exercises, I can't ever seem to get my glutes to activate properly and my thighs are doing all the work. The only exercise that I have ever been successful with working my glutes is the bridge, but I would like to get more bang for my buck while doing my squats. Does anyone have any tips for this issue? Is it merely a matter of a typical form issue I don't know about? I have read that some people may have lazy bum muscles that need help getting in the habit of activation. Does anyone have any tips or tricks that have worked for them?

01-28-2013, 07:31 PM
When I do squats I feel all thigh action my hubby tried to show me the right way but it doesn't seem to help. I even use kettle bells. So I hope u get some good advice, since I am in the same boat as u

01-28-2013, 08:16 PM
Sometimes with activities you will need to really engage those muscles. Think about squeezing your booty as you do the squats. Maybe try a few other work outs that will further target your butt better.

I can't remember what it's called for the life of me, but kneel on all fours. Extend leg to the back and straighten. Swing your leg out to the side while maintaining the 90 degree angle to your body. When extended to the side, pulse up towards the ceiling. Then bring leg back behind you. Rep 20 times on each side.

You can do this exercise standing and resting your hands on a chair. I choose kneeling because it doesn't strain my lower back as much.

It hurts like a mo fo but it gets the job done. :)

I have the same issues with ab work outs and can't rely on my back to do all the work. Which, by the way, is by wrong.

01-29-2013, 09:26 AM
When you are doing your squat push up through the heel, where you almost have your toes not touching the floor, then squeeze your butt when you get to the top... This has helped me a lot...

01-29-2013, 04:04 PM
First of all I think the squat is one of those exercises that is very difficult to do right even after years of strength training. That being said I would recommend you to include as part of your warmup some glute activation exercises such as glute bridges, clams, fire hydrants, monster walks. This girl has a very good routine for glute activation exercises with pictures:


Second I have watched a lot of youtube videos on good form for the squats because form is probably the key missing for many people. You have to remember a lot of things: eyes to the front; shoulders back; sit back on the squat; don't let your knees cave in; squeeze your glutes as you get up.

If you can I would recommend a trainer to teach you good form or someone that can helps you. In any case this girl has a nice progression to get form on squats right:


Finally some of the best exercises for the glutes are glute bridges and hip thrusts performed with a barbell on your hips. I have found that the person on the Internet that knows more about glutes is Bret Contreras. You can read his blog. And this is one of his articles that I found very enlightening:


Hope it helps.

01-29-2013, 05:14 PM
Carpediem those are great sites and instructions...

01-29-2013, 05:24 PM
I wish we could just quote the title of this post and make our butts better on command: "Butt muscles, activate!"

01-30-2013, 05:41 AM
I'm glad you liked them Ilene. I've always had a big butt and I like to research a lot on the topic. I've discovered with time that the size of the butt is not important but having a flabbier butt as opposed to a firm, round butt makes all the difference. And as Songofsurly said is very normal for women to have a "dormant butt" so it's important to wake up those muscles and change our fault movement patterns so we can stand, move and exercise with good form and stay injury free long term.

Song of Surly
01-30-2013, 11:17 AM
I agree with Ilene. Wonderful sources, carpediem. Thank you for taking the time to give me so much information.

I do not have much of a butt. I'm a spoon shape (a variation of a pear) where I have these really wide hips, but my butt is a little flat down towards the bottom. I'm trying to look at toning my glutes as a major part in helping my over-all strength and mobility, but I have to admit that I wouldn't mind changing the look of my behind a little if possible. ;)

01-30-2013, 02:51 PM
A very simple trick: "crack a nut between your butt". Pretend there is a walnut in your butt cheeks and squeeze like a nutcracker. Sounds dumb and silly but I have to admit it works. You engage hip drive when doing this.

01-31-2013, 02:26 PM
If you use the leg press, put your feet higher up on the platform for glutes/hams, and lower for quads.

Glute bridges are something I have always wanted to try but I am terrified of banging the barbell into my hip bones! In the pictures and videos I see it looks like people sometimes use padded bars but not always - how does that play out?

01-31-2013, 02:43 PM
There is only 1 exercise that I can get my butt to engage ...

In table pose (hands and knees) put your leg back - POINT TOES and slightly turn whole leg out (very important), then do the leg lifts. The toes pointed and the leg turned out does the trick to engage. Good luck.

01-31-2013, 03:08 PM
Glute bridges are something I have always wanted to try but I am terrified of banging the barbell into my hip bones! In the pictures and videos I see it looks like people sometimes use padded bars but not always - how does that play out?

Krampus, I use a Kettlebell instead of a barbell and set it carefully on my pevic bone. As far as I can see it makes no difference in the muscles it activates but is more stable and less risk of injury.

01-31-2013, 03:32 PM
Interesting...as in one Kettlebell on each side of the hip, or in the middle? I have an awful time trying to visualize things...

01-31-2013, 03:56 PM
Krampus - I use 2 folded towels or some people use a yoga mat wrapped around the barbell. There's also some kind of barbell wraps in some gyms that are used for not hurting your shoulder blades when you are squatting.

01-31-2013, 05:43 PM
I just use one right on my pelvic bone.