Your secret to becoming faster doesn’t only lie in the diversity of your workouts, cross-training or routine consistency. Strength training is also essential; and glutes are one of the most neglected muscle groups. When running, glutes help get more powerful strides, stabilise the pelvis and knees and are essential for hip extension. They also keep legs, pelvis and torso aligned. But if weaker, glutes often cause Achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee, or the famous IT band syndrome.
So, how to make sure they are strong enough to match your running mileage? We’ve selected our 5 best glutes exercises. Try them, get stronger, and get faster.
There are many variations of squats: bodyweight squats, prisoner squats, pistol squats, sumo squats, goblet squats, back squats… Different squats will help you get different benefits, and work on different additional muscles or improve your stability etc.
But here is how to perform a regular squat:
- Set up with your feet hip-width apart ; slightly turned out. Place your shoulders back and down, and stand tall.
- Send your hips back and down as if you would sit down on a chair. Keep your chest lifted, a straight back and your core braced. Once your legs get parallel to the floor, push onto your heels to come back up, squeezing your glutes to the top.
- During the whole process, you should be able to see your toes (or even lift them!): don’t let your knees go over your ankles. Also make sure you don’t arch your back; instead, engage your core and stay focused on keeping your back straight.
For optimal results, perform 3 sets of 12 reps alongside other complementary exercises. As you progress, try out different types of squats or add in weights.
These will look easy, but glute bridges are a great exercise to add to your workout.
- Lie on a yoga mat, face up on the floor with your knees bent. You should be able to touch your feet with your fingertips.
- Place your hands next to you, palms facing the floor.
- Lift your hips off the ground pushing on your heels. When you come to the top, your shoulders, hips and knees should be aligned. Also squeeze your glutes for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
- When easing back down, control your movement; start lowering your upper back, middle back and finish with your lower back.
Start with 3 rounds of 12-15 reps. Once you’ve mastered this exercise, you can start adding some weights, or try it single-legged!
This is an excellent exercise isolating the biggest glutes muscle, also called gluteus maximus. But, get your form right:
- Start on all fours, tabletop position. Make sure your shoulders stay over your hands and your knees and hips are stacked too. Your legs should be hip width apart. Pull your belly button in, and keep your back straight. Tuck your chin to keep the back of your neck long.
- Now, keeping a 90-degree bend in your left knee, lift it up; as if you would push the ceiling. Make sure that your back doesn’t arch – if it does, stop the motion and make sure your abs are braced to avoid it and keep your glutes working.
- Slowly ease your leg back down, but don’t press it onto the floor before finishing your set, so that your glute and leg continue to work.
You can repeat this exercise for 10-12 reps for 3 sets. Make sure you do the other side too once you’ve finished all reps in one leg.
Contrary to the previous exercise which engages very specifically glutes, deadlifts are a full-body exercise and are also great if you’re looking to get stronger hamstrings too. You can start by trying out the Romanian deadlift:
- Set up with your hips feet width apart. Your knees should stay unlocked during the whole movement. You can use a dumbbell, a kettlebell or a barbell.
- Before beginning the movement, start with the kettlebell on the floor, in between your feet.
- Hinge from the hips and bend down to grab your kettlebell. Your knees should not go over your toes, and your back should remain flat throughout the whole set. To avoid rounding the spine, push your hips and bum back, without squatting.
- At this point, you should feel your hamstrings extending. Make sure you lower down slowly and resist gravity.
- Once you’ve grabbed the kettlebell, come back up. Strongly push on your heels, engage your abdominals, squeeze your glutes and bring your hips forward.
- When repeating the exercise, go as low as possible, without rounding the back and releasing the weight to the floor.
You can repeat this exercise for 10-12 reps for 3 sets; or if aiming for heavier weights 4 to 6 reps per set.
Lunges are a great exercise to build up strength, improve stability and coordination. If you’re looking to get stronger glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and core, this is for you! You can perform lunges bodyweight, or throw in a pair of dumbbells for a challenge:
- Start with feet hip-width apart. Step backwards until both knees are at a 90-degree angle. The front knee should stay in line with your ankles – which means you should still be able to see your toes.
- Actively squeeze your glutes and make sure your spine is elongated.
- Push yourself forward to the original position and repeat with the other leg.
You can repeat this exercise for 16 -24 reps, alternating sides to target both legs.