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3 Pre Run Glute Activation Exercises

Jan 29, 2016 | Running | 12 comments

Glute Activation Exercise

I’ve got a lazy bum. Honestly my glutes are not the best – and they’re seriously letting the rest of the team down – my knees in particular (and we all know I have dodgy knees) So I’m on a mission to improve my glute strength over the next few weeks and months.

I’m working with my friend and PT Alex (Putney/West London locals check him out at David Lloyd Studio in Putney) to strengthen and condition my muscles- focusing on my glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and core, to make me a better, stronger runner in the long run.

One thing I’ve been trying to improve is my pre-run dynamic warm up, including glute activation exercises. By firing up your glutes before your run, you’ll encourage them to do a little more of the work during your 5K!

This sequence takes a few mins at most, but could really make a difference to your run, especially those cold early morning miles.

Leg raises Glute Activation Exercises

Heel Raises 

You can do this standing against a wall or even better, lying on the ground (if it’s not wet outside) bend one leg up, so that your knee is 90 degrees, pulsing your heel out (or up if you’re lying down). If you’re getting it right, you should feel it in your butt – if not then change the angle of your knee until you do feel that butt burn! Do 8-10 on each leg, repeat twice.

Straight Leg Walking Glute Activation exercises

Straight Leg Walking

Sort of what it says on the tin. Walk along with straight legs and as you pull your leg back, squeeze your glute, all the way until the foot hits the ground. Try not to lean back doing this move – it doesn’t matter if you can’t raise your leg too high, it’s more about form! (Check out my concentration face above!) 

Straight leg running Glute activation exercises for runners

Straight Leg Running 

You’ll look like a bit of a wally doing this one – I cracked up every time I tried to take a pic of this. Squeeze your glutes as you run, trying to land on your mid foot, and again, try not to lean back too much as you run.

And you’re ready to go!! I’ll be sharing more of these tips, tricks and workouts that I pick up as I continue with Alex!

Photos by Will Patrick. Wearing all Sweaty Betty Run kit. 


  1. stevebonthrone

    Why do you need to do glute activation exercises? They’re always firing everytime you move forwards.

    • charlotte

      Interestingly the glutes don’t actually propel you forward, they are keep the hips centred whilst running. Part of the reason to do the glute activation exercises to get you aware of your glutes as most people’s glutes are underutilised as a result of sitting at a desk most of the day. Glute activation exercises make the connection between brain and muscle that you’re about to engage them on your run, our bodies often overcompensate and use our quads hamstrings and lower back instead of the glutes, which can lead to injury. These exercises also loosens them up if you’ve been sitting down all day!

      • stevebonthrone

        Good point. I’m beginning to notice that the Hip Flexors are key muscles to work on for running. They are essential for pulling your legs forward, the movement required in running, but very few people I see have great hip mobility from sitting down all day at work and this may well be linked with lower leg pain. Your straight leg walking and running exercises would certainly help get the hip joint moving better.

        One of the problems with the glutes is that people either train them by doing Squats and Deadlifts or just run and don’t train them at all. Squats and Deadlifts are good exercises but are the wrong movement for running. As you say, the glutes stabilise the hips (as well as the knee) and so Single Leg Squats, assorted lunges and hops are all good exercises.

        A bit of a long-winded answer there eh? Ha ha! If the exercises work and help runners reduce any pain/injury then it’s all good 🙂

  2. envierose

    This is exactly what I need! I never seem to be able to engage my glutes when running. Will try these out!

  3. Happy Fit Mama (@happyfitmama)

    My booty is lazy too. Ugh! It’s the source of all my running injuries. These exercises are ones I do for a dynamic warm up too. And single leg everything to really isolate and fire up the glutes.

  4. Tess @ FitBits

    So with you on this one – when I do my glute exercises regularly my running is so much better. Must try harder. Also LOVE your kit!

  5. Christina

    YES I need this. Just getting back after an injury and I know strengthening my glutes will help me run stronger and injury-free. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Heathers Looking Glass

    These are great! I do straight leg walking as well as inverted toe touches.

  7. healthyhappierbear

    I read this at the perfect time as I’ll try doing this today before my long run! Thanks! Also that Sweaty Betty gear is ADORABLE!

  8. fionajarrett

    That’s really interesting what you say about the glutes stabilising the hips during running and needing to make them a point of focus in terms of warm-up and strengthening. I’d never heard that before. Thanks!

  9. Sarah Addventures

    Thanks for sharing these great exercises, not honestly sure I’ll be doing the straight legged running in the park though! Maybe if it’s very early …
    Also, I love your headband, where’s it from?


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