Posterior Chain Power

Power comes from the hips: your posterior chain. It consists of your lower back, hamstrings, calves & glutes. A strong posterior chain is important for Deadlifts, Squats, Power Cleans, jumps, sprints, …

Excessive sitting shortens your hip flexors. This stretches the opposite muscles: your glutes. They become dormant. You can’t fire your glutes properly anymore. The solution is glute activation exercises. Here’s how.
Benefits of Glute Activation Exercises. Dormant glutes force your lower back & hamstrings to compensate. This is less effective & increases risks of injury.
More Strength. You can lift more weight, sprint faster and jump higher when using all the muscles of your posterior chain, including your glutes.
Less Injuries. Lower back pain, hip flexor pain, knee pain, strained hamstrings, … Glute activation minimizes risks of injury.
Better Posture. Tight hip flexors pull your pelvis forward: lordosis. Glute activation & hip mobility exercises are the solution to anterior pelvic tilt.
Do You Need Glute Activation? Do 20 reps supine bridges. You need glute activation if your hamstrings feel more tight than your glutes. I recommend doing glute activation exercises even if you pass this test.
Exercise Guidelines. 1 set of 10 reps per exercise. Add sets if necessary. Do glute activation pre-workout so you can fire your glutes better on weight lifting exercises. You can also do them on non-training days for faster improvements.
Start with Hip Mobility. Dormant glutes are linked to tight hip flexors. Do hip mobility exercises before doing glute activation exercises.
Squeeze Your Glutes. As hard as you can. You can squeeze your glutes best at lockout: when your hip joints approach neutral alignment.
Focus on Quality. Avoid compensating with your hamstrings or lower back. Squeezing your glutes matters, not the amount of reps.
1. Supine Bridges. Back & heels on the floor. Knees bent at 90°. Curl your toes up. Lift your hips by squeezing your glutes until your body is straight from knees to shoulders. Hold for 5 seconds, come back down, repeat.
  • Don’t Use Your Lower Back. Push your lower back against the floor by tilting your pelvis back. Get off the floor by squeezing your glutes hard.
  • Don’t Use Your Hamstrings. Cramps in your hamstrings means you’re not using your glutes. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can.
  • Quality not Quantity. Put your legs on the floor if you can’t do supine bridges correctly. Squeeze your buttocks, hold for 5 seconds, repeat.
2. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch/Glute Activation. Pull your leg back & stretch. When your hip flexor releases, squeeze both glutes for 5 seconds. The stretch will increase. Relax your glutes while holding your leg. Repeat.
  • Stay tall at all time. Keep your spine neutral, don’t arch your lower back. If you have a desk job, this is the best exercise you can do through the day to avoid tight hip flexors/dormant glutes from sitting.
3. Mule Kicks. Bend over on a bench. Face down & hands on the floor. Kick 1 leg back & up by extending your hip and squeezing your glute. Hold the contraction for 5 seconds and come back. Repeat for 10 reps, switch legs.
  • Don’t Use Your Lower Back. Keep your spine neutral. Brace your abs hard as if someone would punch you in the stomach.
  • Don’t Use Your Hamstrings. Squeeze your glutes hard while extending your hips. You can bend your knee.
  • Quality not Quantity. The goal is not get as high as possible, the goal is to squeeze your glute as hard as you can. Lead with your glute.
4. Clams. Lie on your side. Knees bent & together. Feet aligned with your back. Lift your knee by squeezing your glute. Don’t rotate your hips & don’t try to go high. The movement comes from your glutes. 10 reps, switch leg.
5. Birddogs. Get on all 4s. Arms & thighs perpendicular to the floor. Brace your abs as if someone is going to punch you in the stomach. Extend your hip while extending your opposite arm.
  • Keep Your Spine Neutral. Don’t hyper-extend or arch your lower back. Brace your abs. Put a water bottle on your lower back for feedback.
  • Quality not Quantity. If you can’t do them correctly, keep both arms on the floor. If that’s still too hard, go back to mule kicks.
6. Fire Hydrants. Get on all 4s. Arms & thighs perpendicular to the floor. Lift 1 leg to the side by contracting your glute. Press your heel back by extending your leg. Come back. Repeat. This is a mix of birddogs & clams.
  • Keep Your Spine Neutral. Don’t hyper-extend/arch/rotate your lower back. Keep your abs braced.
  • Don’t Use Your Hamstrings. Cramps in your hamstrings means you’re not using your glutes. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can.
  • Quality not Quantity. The goal is not to go fast or doing a lot of reps. The goal is squeezing your glutes. Hold each position.
7. Kneeling Squats. Teach you to use your glutes on Squats & Deadlifts. Kneel with your hips resting on your heels. Use knee padding. Brace your abs and keep your spine neutral. Rise by extending your hips & squeezing your glutes.

More Glute Activation Exercises. Squeeze your glutes several times per day. Stand up, squeeze your glutes hard while pushing your hips forward. Squeeze your glute when walking stairs. The more you do this, the easier it becomes.

There are many more glute activation exercises you can do: band versions, band walks, cook hip lifts, etc. Master the basics before trying the glute activation exercises described here:
Core Training and Glute Activation by Michael Boyle.
Hamstring Dominance by Brijesh Patel.