Warming up your muscles lets you hit the ground running when you start working out. Take some time to warm up the major muscles you're going to be working that day. If you're doing a lower-body workout, chances are you'll be hitting the glutes, so get them activated through a good warm up.
Warming up a muscle promotes blood flow and increases your range of motion. It's a great way to prevent an injury and to help you jump into your workout.
Some people might have trouble activating their glutes during a workout because they can get away with using other muscles, like the hamstrings, which produce a similar motion. However, if you want to do a lower body exercise like a squat properly, you need to make sure your glutes are activated.
Doing glute activation exercises isolates your glutes and lets you warm them up specifically. If you've been having trouble activating them in the first place going through a run-of-the-mill warm-up probably won't cut it because you're not getting your glutes into the movements. That's why it's wise to start with a quick glute activation warm-up before your lower body workouts.
Glute and Hip Activation
The glutes are the biggest muscles in the body — and the largest muscles that work your hips — and you have to give them a little bit of a challenge to get them going. This means that glute activation exercises won't be the easiest part of your warm-up.
Muscles surround the hip from all angles. There are separate groups of muscles that flex the hip, extend it, and rotate it internally and externally. Some of those groups of muscles actually oppose each other, so you have to do a variety of movements to fully activate the hips.
Circular movements are especially helpful for activating the hips because you need to use every group of hip muscles to rotate in a complete circle.
Hip Flexor Bridge
Regular glute bridges can be too easy to get your glutes fired up before your workout. Try doing this single-leg variation for more challenge.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and heels a foot from your butt. Raise your left knee and place your right palm on the knee. Bridge your hips up as high as you can, pushing through your left heel. As you bridge up, drive your left knee into your right palm. This activates your hip flexor in the front. Do 10 repetitions on each leg.
Start in an all fours position on a mat. Keeping your back as flat as possible, bring your left knee forward towards your chest. Then, reach your leg out to the side as far as possible with your knee bent. Slowly move your knee back and up into the air, like you're trying to kick the ceiling. Finally, bring it down close to your left leg and back to the mat. Do five circles on each leg. Go slowly and make as big of a circle as possible.
Get into an all four's position on a mat on the ground. Raise your right arm directly forward and kick your left leg straight back at the same time. Keep reaching until your right arm and left leg are parallel to the ground. Squeeze your left glute and hold your leg up there for a count of three, then come back down. Make sure your spine stays flat throughout the movement. Do six repetitions on each side.
This is a regular squat that gets your hips involved more than normal by using a band to add resistance.
Put a mini-resistance band around your knees. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down as low as you feel comfortable, pulling the band apart with your legs as you go down. Keep pressing your knees out against the band while you stand up. Do twelve reps.
Band Lateral Walk
This time, place the mini-resistance band around your ankles. Walk sideways by picking your right leg up, driving it out against the band, and planting it on the ground. Pick the left leg up and slowly bring it closer to the right leg, planting it so that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Keep stepping to the right for ten steps, then go back to the left.