Butt Exercises: Train your glutes to prevent injury and improve performance

Image from behind of a young woman standing on stairs outside.

“Use it or lose it!” I am sure a lot of us have heard this phrase before in regards to vacation time from work, mental strength and even certain “hidden” talents. But when I say, or think of, this phrase I immediately think of GLUTES! Now this has a great deal to do with my profession, but as the percentage of people performing work at a desk is at an all time high, butt exercises should also be something that begins to creep into the minds of others outside the fitness industry as well. Technology is amazing, but the sedentary lifestyle that accompanies it– not so much. Whether you are sitting all day, or even standing—your posterior chain, your glutes, your butt, your bum, your tush, your badonk-a-donk (whatever you want to call it) is not doing much of anything. Things definitely need to change on that end, pun intended.

Young woman stretching outside.

Now to make matters worse, when your glutes are inactive, they are also developing, a term coined by Dr. Stuart McGill, “gluteal amnesia.” So not only are they working less, but they are also forgetting how to activate when needed. And trust me, they ARE needed. When the glutes forget how to do their job, other parts of the body (such as the low back) have to pick up the slack and perform a job that they were not designed to do. This can lead to low back, knee and even hip pain. Now this is really compelling and interesting–just because you have pain somewhere, does not necessarily mean that that particular area is the problem. Knowledge is power and shouldn’t we all have at least some knowledge about our most valuable ASSet?

The gluteus maximus is the largest of the 3 glute muscles, and gives the sought after round and firm shape. The medius and minimus are found on the sides and are responsible for abduction (or drawing the hip away from the body) as well as stabilizing the hips. All 3 of these muscles perform a much needed function to help us work and train harder, safer and pain free.

Anatomic picture of glutes.

I derive a lot of my motivation from professional athletes. I find their drive, determination, focus and relentlessness to achieve their goals to be insanely encouraging– no matter what the sport. Whether football, tennis, running, baseball, soccer, basketball, golf, etc. These sports require an explosive extension of the hips and the stronger your glutes, the more explosive and powerful that motion is. If you were to ask any professional athlete to identify their driving force– they all would undoubtedly point to their behind.

For all of you runners out there, you want to look better going than coming. But where should you start? Start with glute awareness. Do you know what it feels like to contract (squeeze) your glutes during exercise? If not, it’s time to become well acquainted with your backside. Start being really mindful of the contraction by doing some squats and standing or prone leg lifts. That way when you go for your next run, you can ensure that the glutes are firing as they should be.

Athletic man doing squats outside.

Now going back to that office scenario. When you get up to leave from work after sitting all day, your hips are in a shortened position. If your hips are shortened, and you automatically take off for an after work run (most likely after sitting in the car or bus to get home) you are more prone to injury. Make sure you take the time to do some lateral movement in the frontal plane of motion since the sitting and standing you’ve been doing all day at work is only occurring in the sagittal plane. A dynamic warm-up including lateral shuffles and karaoke (or grapevine) is a great way to get the glutes to stand at attention- and be prepared to work.

S= Sagittal Plane T= Transverse Plane F= Frontal Plane

So think about it. When was the last time you trained your glutes? Do you often experience back, hip or knee pain? Does your job confine you to a seated or even standing position? Do you have a butt? Then you need to do some butt exercises! There are plenty of exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home, without any equipment except yourself and a mat. You can find plenty of butt exercises, as well as exercises for your entire body, in the adidas Training app. Download the app today and start strengthening your body from head to toe – glutes included, of course! Be consistent and your glutes and performance will blossom.

Originally published on May 24, 2014, updated on January 10, 2017.


Lunden Souza Lunden Souza is an Online Fitness & Lifestyle Transformation Coach. She helps people all over the world create a sustainable healthy lifestyle, so they'll never have to "start over" again! Connect with @lifelikelunden for real-life strategies to get on track for long-term health in both body and mind. View all posts by Lunden Souza »