Glute Activation

by David Howatson-Begg

Followers of the fitness world are obsessed with a body part that gets sat on, squeezed and even shaken on a daily basis…the butt! This big muscle group is as powerful as it is complex. Ten years ago all of my clients wanted to make their glutes smaller. Today, for some, bigger is better. But strengthening the glutes should be more than a trend led by self-proclaimed social media gurus.

The term ‘glute activation’ once belonged in the world of physiotherapy but an increasing number of coaches are using this phrase to educate clients in strength and movement efficiency. To illuminate your workout in order to switch on, test, and shape your posterior we wanted to set out a simple strategy using whole body vibration. There are three important points to remember when trying to get the glutes working with Power Plate:

  • The vibration will always travel to the points of most tension.
  • Working in multiple directions will stimulate multiple muscles.
  • Changing the driver or ‘lead’ body part is vital.

On the first point, we know that Power Plate rapidly drives mechanical vibration through the body, but we want to ensure that the vibration stimulates the correct muscles or tissues. If you are performing butt kickers or swinging your leg behind you to hit the glutes I’ve got some bad news. Unless that leg is in contact with the platform or an attachment anchored to Power Plate then the vibration is not working through your butt as much as you think it is...if at all!


To assist you in the quest for glorious glutes we put together some movements and anatomical tweaks you can use during your next training session:



Squat Variation: Making a subtle change to the foot position in a squat we can get more depth, more tissues working and more activated points. Toes pointed slightly out provides the depth, hits the adductors in the inner thigh and that bigger part of the butt, the gluteus maximus. Having the toes facing slightly inward will take away the depth but really hit the smaller muscles in the glute that hug around the hips and help with knee alignment and stability.



Lunge Variation: Stepping from floor to Power Plate across the body drives the glutes above to lengthen and contract, thus absorbing the vibration. In the meantime the other hip/glute gets stretched open as that leg goes through adduction. Adding the arm reach in rotation increases this lengthening making the glute open further and work harder.



Hop and Stick: A small jump to the side landing on a single leg is a great way to activate or switch on the whole leg. The glutes are involved in the acceleration helping you jump and in the deceleration to allow you to land and stabilise as you hold the landing for 3-4 seconds. As in the lunge variation, the arm reach in rotation fires up the glutes and adds an extra stability challenge. Note that jumping and reaching are added extras to be used as you progress so feel free to adapt and adjust as necessary.

Stick to the principles and your glutes will thank you for it.

By David Howatson-Begg, Performance Health Systems UK Master Trainer