Runners need strong glutes to propel themselves forward, improve their running form, and reduce their risk of injury. Unfortunately, many runners neglect their glutes and focus on other muscle groups, such as their quads and hamstrings. This can lead to imbalances and injuries.
This post lists some of the best glute exercises for runners. These exercises can be done at home or at the gym, and only require a few pieces of equipment, such as a chair, weights, and resistance bands.
Weighted hip thrusts
To do a weighted hip thrust, you will need a kettlebell or other weight that is heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you cannot lift it safely.
- Rest your back on a bench or sturdy chair, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
- Place the weight across your hips, just above your pubic bone.
- Slowly lower your hips down.
- Brace your core and squeeze your glutes as you thrust your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
The hip thrust is a great exercise for strengthening the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the buttocks. It is also a good exercise for strengthening the hamstrings, quads, and core.
If you are new to this exercise, it is a good idea to start with a low weight and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.
Aim for: 2 x 10 reps.
Hip abduction with band
Beginners should do hip abductions without a resistance band. Once you have mastered the form, you can add a strong band to make the exercise more challenging.
- Lie on your side with your legs straight and your feet stacked.
- Place a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees.
- Keep your hips stacked and your core engaged.
- Slowly lift your top leg up and out to the side, keeping your toes pointed.
- Pause for a second, then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
This exercise is one of the most effective ways to work the glute medius, a muscle that helps stabilise the hip joint and helps prevent knee injuries.
If you start to get a burning sensation in the lateral hip, this can be due to a lack of blood flow, so just rest for a few seconds and start again.
Aim for: 3 x 10-12 reps per side.
You will need a chair or sturdy piece of furniture to do single-leg squats. A lot of concentration is also needed when starting out; the focus is the knee position and preventing it from moving inwards as you squat down.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
- Shift your weight to one leg and bend your knee, then extend the other leg out in front of you.
- Sit your bum back and lower to the chair.
- Tap the chair and return to the starting position.
Single-leg squats are a great way to increase your leg strength while also working on balance and athleticism.
This exercise can be challenging, so start with only a few repetitions and gradually increase the number as you get stronger. If you are unable to touch the chair, just lower yourself as far as you can. Alternatively, do a double leg squat before you are ready to graduate.
Aim for: 2 x 10 per side.
Banded clam shell
The clam is a pilates-based exercise that, when done correctly, works the small glute muscles and in turn aids the control of your knee when running.
- Place a resistance band above your knees.
- Lie on your side and bend your knees so that the soles of your feet are in line with your back.
- Keep your feet together and lift the top knee upwards, while maintaining your hip alignment.
- Work hard to resist your hips rolling backwards to gain more movement.
You should feel your glute muscles working hard after a few repetitions. Keep pushing through the discomfort until you have completed the specified amount.
Aim for: 2 x 15 per side and increase to 4 x 20.
Squats with band
Squats are an effective exercise for building strength and muscle in your legs and glutes. Adding a resistance band to your squats can make the exercise more challenging, which can help you build even more strength.
- Place a band around your quads so that there is tension pulling your knees together.
- Engage your core, keep your back straight, and squat down to a comfortable depth.
- Return to the starting position.
Adding a band to a traditional squat and taking care to not let your knees collapse inwards is a great way to train your hip muscles. Start with a light band and gradually increase the resistance as you get stronger.
Aim for: 2 x 10 and increase to 4 x 20 reps.
These are just a few of the many glute exercises that runners can do to improve their running performance. If you’re looking to strengthen your glutes, try incorporating these exercises into your training routine at least twice a week.