Feel Your Glutes MORE with Lunges

Who doesn’t want to feel their glutes when they train?! Maybe there are some people who don’t want to, but training and feeling a muscle work hard feels good during, but especially after a training session. That feeling of working hard and accomplishing something is a good feeling.

Whether it be physical therapists or strength and conditioning coaches, often we tell our athletes we want them to feel XYZ exercise in their glutes. Whether it be lunges, single leg deadlfts, squats, deadlifts, etc., “you should feel this in your glutes” is a common line that is uttered.

More times than not, athletes and clients WON’T feel it in their glutes OR they feel it in one glute and not the other when doing bilateral training or switching sides during unilateral.

Here are 3 tips to improve glute activation during training.

1. Lean Forward

Whether it be split squats, rear foot elevated split squats, or any other lunging variation, most people feel these movements in their quads and maybe their hamstrings.

Even if they aren’t hyperextended as shown in the video, most people, if they have a vertical trunk orientation (straight up and down with their body), will most likely not feel their glutes during this movement.

One tip we like to recommend to people is to lean forward slightly.

The lean is very slight, 5-10 degrees. This one tip has helped us personally as well as our athletes and clients with knee pain and with feeling it better in the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) during split squats and lunges.

2. Band Around Knees

Another option that is typically used as a corrective exercise is placing a band around the knees.

This is another option for athletes and clients if they want to feel their glutes better. The gluteus maximus is a hip extensor as well as a hip external rotator. By placing the band around the knee, it is attempting to pull the knee in towards midline or internally rotate it. To prevent this motion, the athlete and their body have to externally rotate their leg. This is directly targeting glute max and can help improve glute activation and the sensation of the glute working.

3. Weight Outside Base of Support

A third option that can be helpful in feeling your glutes better is placing the weight outside of your base of support.

By doing either an offset single leg variation or placing the weight outside of your base of support, the glutes on the stance leg have to work harder to keep you from tipping over. When placing the weight outside of your base of support, this can help to improve that feeling of the glutes working with lunges and other single leg variations.

If you want to feel your glutes more with lunges and other single leg variations, try incorporating a slight forward trunk lean, placing a band around 1 or both knees, or placing the weight outside of your base of support.

Andrew Millett