You’re probably already familiar with glute squeezes. This exercise, which engages the muscles in your buttocks, is one you can do almost anywhere and requires no equipment. The objective is to press your buttock muscles together as tightly as you can and hold the squeeze for 20 to 30 seconds or even longer. Glute squeezes are an isometric exercise, meaning you hold the contraction without changing the length of the muscle. Another common isometric exercise is a plank, although this exercise mainly targets your abs and core.
Why Do You Need Glute Squeezes Anyway?
One of the biggest benefits of glute squeezes is they can help you get more benefits from the other glute exercises that you do. They’re especially beneficial if you have an office job. If you sit in a chair most of the day, your hip flexors shorten and your glutes lengthen. Over time, your gluteal muscles develop “gluteal amnesia,” where you don’t activate them as well when you do other lower body exercises, including squats. In other words, your glutes go to sleep and are hard to wake up, even when you exercise.
Glutes become lazy due to reciprocal inhibition. When one muscle group shortens or tightens, the hip flexors, the opposing muscle group, the glutes, lengthen to compensate. The lengthened muscles become weaker and more resistant to being activated. In response, your whole body is thrown out of balance. You simply weren’t meant to sit in a chair for long periods of time and it takes its toll on your body
Doing glute squeezes activates your glutes and helps them get back into the game. It also helps protect against another common problem associated with weak glutes, low back pain. When you have weak glutes that aren’t activated, the muscles in your lower back and hamstrings are forced to take up the slack. As you might expect, this places additional strain on them that can lead to injury. By doing glute squeezes, you train your glutes to “turn on’ more, even when you do non-structured exercises like walking. You’ll also activate your glutes more when you do other lower body exercises, like squats and deadlifts.
Be aware that when you do exercises, like squats and lunges, you should feel your glutes working. If not, your glutes are likely not firing up as they should. Isometric exercises, like glute squeezes help you wake up those lazy glueal muscles, so you can get more glute benefits out of all of the lower body exercises you do. In addition, there are other isometric exercises that work your glutes similarly to glute squeezes. Make sure they’re part of your routine.
Another type of isometric exercise that targets the glutes is the glute bridge. Unlike glute squeezes that you can do anywhere, you need to get down on the floor to do bridges. To do this exercise, lie on the mat with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Slowly lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from chest to knees. While you hold this position, contract your buttocks as hard as you can and hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions. To make this exercise more challenging, hold a weight across your abdomen so you’re working against greater resistance.
A third isometric glute exercise, the Superman, works your glutes as well as your lower back and hamstring muscles. To do this exercise, lie face down on an exercise mat. Extend your arms straight out in front of you. This is your starting position. To do the exercise, squeeze your buttocks as you lift your legs and arms off the floor at the same time. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds. Relax for a few seconds and repeat the exercise 10 or 15 times.
Other Glute Exercises
Isometric exercises, like glute squeezes and bridges, shouldn’t be the only exercises you do for glute development. if you’re doing a glute-focused workout EMG studies show the gluteal muscles are activated the most by single-leg squats, deadlifts, lunges, and side-lying hip abduction. Unfortunately, most of us don’t do single-leg squats or deadlifts, so we miss out on the benefits these exercises offer. If you sit during the day, stand up and do glute squeezes every hour to engage your buttock muscles and keep them from slumbering.
Another exercise that many women don’t do that effectively targets the glutes are hip thrusts. A standard hip thrust is effective, but you can activate your glutes even more by doing one-legged hip thrusts or hip thrusts using a barbell for added resistance. Although not isometric, this is an exercise that can help undo the glute amnesia that comes from sitting too much and help you take your glute strength to the next level.
Don’t forget about donkey kicks, also known as quadruped hip extensions. Try them with your leg straight and with a bent knee to vary the stimulus you place on your glutes. For a greater challenge, use a resistance band to ad
The glutes are your body’s biggest and most powerful muscles. Train them in a variety of ways and make isometric exercises, like glute squeezes part of your routine as well. Keep your glutes guessing. The mainstay of your glute workouts should still be the classic exercises – deadlifts, squats, and lunges but shake things up by focusing on one side at a time during some sessions. You’ll be rewarded with stronger glutes for better performance when you train or play a sport and greater protection against back pain and injury.
The Glute Guy. “5 Things You Should Do Every Day”
MikeReinold.com. “The Best Exercises for the Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Medius”
Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Sep; 6(3): 206–223.