Because many of us spend so much time sitting, getting our glutes to fire efficiently might be harder than it should be. One solution? An effective glutes finisher, which you can easily tack onto the end of your workout or do as a quick, standalone routine.
Your glutes are one of the biggest, most powerful muscle groups in your body. They help transfer energy from your lower body to your trunk, and they also help protect your hips and pelvis from injury, certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, C.P.T., trainer at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, tells SELF.
But if they’re not able to activate properly—again, often due to lots of sitting—your glutes might not be able to perform those functions properly. And that’s where a dedicated glutes finisher comes in to help change that.
So what makes an effective glutes finisher? For starters, according to Jamison, it includes a high volume of reps with minimal rest so that you’ll get to the point of momentary muscular fatigue, or the sensation that you’ve worked your muscles so hard you don't think you can do another rep with good form. Pushing yourself to that point (safely, of course) can help you achieve all three benefits of strength training, which include strength, hypertrophy (muscle building), and endurance, according to Jamison.
An effective glutes finisher also engages all of the muscles in your butt, including your gluteus maximus (biggest butt muscle) as well as your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus (the two muscles that form your side butt), Jamison says.
Many popular butt-centric exercises, like glutes bridges and deadlifts, home in on your glute max, which is involved in hip extension and both internal and external hip rotation. That’s great, but it’s important to show your glute med and glute min some love too, since these muscles play a big role in stabilizing your pelvic area and in moving your legs out to the side (hip abduction). One example of why the glute med and min are important? Say you pick up a heavy box. As you stand, your knees will naturally want to buckle inward, but if your glute med and min are fully activated, your knees will stay in line with your hips and ankles, making the movement safer and more efficient, says Jamison.
Also, the stronger your hip abductors are, the stronger your glutes complex will be as a whole. Think of the glutes complex as a chain that is only as strong as its weakest link. Oftentimes that weak link is the glute med and glute min, so by taking the time to strengthen these smaller muscles, you’ll improve the overall functioning of your glutes (and in turn, the muscle groups connected to your glutes, like your quads, hamstrings, back, and abdominals).
Do this finisher, which Jamison created, at the end of leg day as a way to really emphasize your glutes. In that context, “it's kind of like an exclamation point,” says Jamison. This finisher also pairs well with an abs-focused routine. Since your glutes are technically part of your core, that combo would be a great way to really work that entire area, says Jamison.
You could also use this finisher as a quick standalone workout if you’re strapped for time, she adds. (Just make sure to warm up first so you don’t jump into it with cold muscles. One quick, easy way to warm up is to do the first set—see below—with light or no external resistance, suggests Jamison.)
However you approach this finisher, make sure to keep your movements small. It may sound counterintuitive, but in this scenario “smaller movements are better and more powerful,” explains Jamison. That’s because the bigger the movement, the higher likelihood you’ll engage other muscle groups that aren’t the main focus. Take the fire hydrant exercise, for example: If you make extra large circles with your knees, you’ll place stress into your low back and hip—and not in your glutes as intended.
Another tip: Make sure you actively engage your glutes the entire time. It can help to actually tap your hand (if it’s free) on your butt, says Jamison. “That'll help the neuromuscular system sync up a little bit more.”
Ready to seriously activate and strengthen your glutes? Keep scrolling to find out how.
What you need: An exercise mat for comfort and a mini band (or a resistance band that you can tie). Choose a band with enough resistance that 12 to 15 reps of each exercise will feel challenging to the point you don’t think you could do many more reps with good form, but not so challenging that you can’t complete the full workout.
Demoing the moves below are Crystal Williams (GIF 1), a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City; Salma Nakhlawi (GIFs 2 and 3), the founder of StrongHer Girls and a strength coach; and Hejira Nitoto (GIF 4), a mom of six and a certified personal trainer and fitness apparel line owner based in Los Angeles.
SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.