glutes, workout, butt, fitness, routine,

It's All About The Glutes

To activate these super-muscles, add these elements to your workout routine.

Strong glutes, says New York City-based Equinox group fitness manager Danielle Hopkins, "separate athletes from average performers.”

That might be why you hear trainers and instructors preaching the powers of “firing up” or “activating” those glutes: Engage your backside muscles, and you’ll be able unleash your body’s full potential.

First, you have to know what glute activation is. In short, it’s utilizing the three muscles that make up your butt: the gluteus maximus, minimus, and medius, says Hopkins. The problem is, not everyone does this. “While they’re one of the largest and most powerful muscle groups, the glutes also tend to be weak and underutilized—like sleeping giants.”

One of the biggest barriers to strong glutes? Tight hips—which can be caused by too much sitting, says Hopkins. “Without mobile hips you will never be able to maximize glute activation.” Blame position and posture, too, says Matthew N. Berenc, CSCS, director at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute in Beverly Hills. If your body isn’t aligned correctly, it will respond by preserving itself, activating other muscles besides your backside, he explains.

But there’s a bit of a myth behind the idea that these muscles can be switched “on” and “off”, says Berenc. “The better way to think about glute activation is as a dimmer switch.”

And considering your glutes play a critical role in how well you accelerate, change direction, and jump, you want that switch to be at its brightest. “The stronger the glutes, the greater the force you can apply to push off the ground. This translates into faster, more powerful, agile athletes,” says Hopkins. A powerful backside can also help with everyday activities: You’ll be able to move a lot more weight and do a lot more with your body, says Berenc. No to mention the injury-prevention payoff, since your glutes—a huge connecting point between your upper and lower body—can take on the stress of activities that can harm your back and knees, he says.

Says Berenc: “You want to train your glutes to be reactive; to express strength and power without you even thinking about it.” Here’s how it’s done.