11 Best Glute Stretches To Try Before And After Your Workouts

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September 6, 2019

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When you start working out or begin a new Sweat program, it’s common to experience muscle tightness or delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), as your muscles adapt to being used in different ways. 

Your glutes are the largest muscles in your body and play an integral role in many functional movements like squatting, walking, running or climbing stairs. 

That’s why it’s so important to activate your glutes during your warm-up and to include glute stretches in your post-workout cool down.

Having tight glutes can be the result of a tough leg workout, but can also be a sign you are sitting too much or not making recovery strategies, such as stretching and foam rolling, a priority. 

If you sit at a desk all day, try to stand and move around every 30-60 minutes to help prevent your glutes and hip flexors from becoming tight. Adding glute exercises to your workouts can also help these muscles stay active and strong.

Why do glute stretches?

Stretching regularly is another way to prevent inactive or tight glutes. Glute stretches can improve your hip mobility, workout performance, as well as helping you to go about your daily movements more easily. 

If you have soreness or tightness in your buttocks, hips, lower back, hamstrings, knees or pelvic discomfort, stretching your glutes can help. Taking care of one of the largest muscles in your body means taking care of all the connecting parts, too!

How to stretch your glutes before a workout

Warming up before a workout is an important way to prepare your body for exercise and minimise the risk of injury. 

Warm-ups typically involve some light cardio and dynamic stretches to help improve blood flow and increase your range of motion for the target area. 

Here are some of the best ways to stretch and warm up your glutes before a workout:

Foam rolling

Foam rolling is often an important part of muscle recovery, but it can also help to warm up your glutes before exercise by increasing blood flow to the area and loosening the connective tissue around the muscles to enable smooth movement. 

1. Position the foam roller horizontally behind you. Carefully sit on top of the foam roller and place both hands on the floor behind you.

2. Lift and turn out your right leg so that your ankle is resting on your left leg just above your knee, as shown. Gently tilt your hips to the right to allow the foam roller to press into your right glute.

3. Slowly roll the foam roller along the length of your glute. If you reach a point of tenderness, pause and hold that position until the pressure/discomfort is significantly reduced. You can choose to perform small strokes over tight areas if you prefer.

4. Continue to roll down the length of your glute, giving extra attention to any tight spots as needed.

Repeat on your left side.

Leg swings

These warm up your glutes and hips and you can do them before a workout, or to warm up the muscles for deep stretching. 

1. With your left hand resting on the back of a chair, stand with your feet hip-width apart.

2. While keeping your left foot firmly on the floor and your right leg straight, swing your right leg from side to side in front of your body, keeping your torso upright.

4. Continue swinging the leg backwards and forwards before switching sides. You can also perform these with your leg swinging forward and back, rather than side to side.

Lateral walk

This exercise fully engages your glutes and hips, strengthening the major muscles in your hips, thighs and legs. Lateral walks can help improve your stability and prevent injury.

1. With a resistance band looped around your ankles, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your knees in line with your toes and stand upright. This is your starting position.

2. Keeping your right foot on the floor, step your left foot outwards so your feet are slightly further than hip-width apart.

3. Keeping your left foot on the floor, step your right foot inwards to return to the starting position, like a crab!

Repeat, ensuring that you complete the same number of repetitions on each side.

Single-leg Romanian deadlift & knee hug

The single-leg Romanian deadlift strengthens the muscles used for balance, including your glutes. Being a unilateral exercise, it can help improve any muscle imbalances between your legs. 

1. With your left foot firmly on the floor, lift your right foot off the floor and draw your right knee into your chest. This is your starting position.

2. Bend your left knee slightly and without changing the angle of your left knee, hinge forwards from your hips until your torso is parallel to the floor, extending your right leg behind you. At the same time, extend your arms towards the floor. Keep your hips level, maintain a proud chest and keep your head in line with your spine. You should feel tension in your left hamstring (back of your leg).

3. Push through your left heel and use your glute and hamstring to extend your hips and draw your right knee into a hug to return to the starting position. 

Repeat, ensuring that you complete the same number of repetitions on each side.

Once you are comfortable with this exercise, you might progress to the Romanian kettlebell deadlift

Glute bridge

The glute bridge exercise benefits many additional muscles, including your hamstrings, lower back and abs. The pose can be done using just your bodyweight or you can place a looped resistance band just above your knees to increase the intensity. 

1. Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, hip-width apart. Keep your spine in a neutral position and allow your arms to rest by your sides on the mat. This is your starting position.

2. Press your heels into the mat and squeeze your glutes to raise your pelvis off the floor until your body forms one straight line from chin to knee, resting on your shoulders.

3. Lower your pelvis to return to the starting position. Repeat.

Seated hip abduction

Your hip abductors work alongside your glutes to assist with standing, walking, and rotating your leg. When you work your glutes, it’s important that your abductors are also active and working to stabilise your hips. 

1. With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, sit on a bench with your feet on the floor slightly closer than hip-width apart. Lean back and place your hands on the bench behind you. This is your starting position.

2. Using the muscles in your glutes and hips, separate your knees and feet until they are slightly further than shoulder-width apart.

3. Draw your knees and feet inwards to return to the starting position.

Best glute stretches for recovery

Once your workout is complete, it’s always a good idea to take five minutes to cool down and stretch to minimise tightness later on. The following stretches can be used in your cool-down or in a dedicated recovery session.

Half pigeon

This pose stretches your hip rotators and hip flexors, as well as your glutes. 

1. Place both hands on the floor, slightly further than shoulder-width apart with both legs together behind you, resting on the balls of your feet.

2. Release your left leg, bend your knee and place it behind you and to the left of your left wrist. Rest your left shin on the mat, keeping your foot flexed. At the same time, place your right knee on the mat, untuck your toes and lower your hips towards the floor. Maintain an upright position.

3. Hold this position for 30 seconds (or five slow breaths). Each time you exhale, try to sink further into your hips to increase the stretch if you feel comfortable, keeping your hips level.

Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Standing glute stretch

This stretch targets the largest glute muscle. 

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Lift and turn out your left leg. Rest the outside of your left ankle just above your right knee.

3. Bend your right knee so that you are in a single-leg squat position and gently push down on your left knee using your left elbow if it feels comfortable.

4. Hold this position for 30 seconds (or five slow breaths) breathing deeply throughout. 

5. Repeat this stretch on the other side.

If you are struggling to balance, try to focus on a spot directly in front of you, or hold onto a chair or bench for support. You can also find a bench or ledge at hip height to rest your leg on to perform the stretch to make it easier to balance. 

The seated version of this standing glute stretch can be done by placing your left ankle on your right knee and leaning forward through your chest.

Supine glute stretch 

This stretch helps improve your hip flexibility by stretching your glutes. 

1. Start lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, hip-width apart, with your spine in a neutral position. 

2. Release and turn out your right leg so your ankle is resting on your left leg, just above your knee. 

3. Draw your left knee in towards your torso, resting both hands on the back of your left thigh. 

4. Hold this position for 30 seconds (or five slow breaths), breathing deeply throughout.

5. Each time you exhale, draw your knee further into your chest and press your right elbow into your right knee to increase the stretch if it feels comfortable, keeping your spine in a neutral position and your tailbone on the floor. 

Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Seated glute stretch

Similar to the previous stretch, this stretch helps improve flexibility and release tension in your glute muscles. 

1. Begin in a seated position on a yoga mat with your feet planted on the mat. Press your hands and feet into the floor to elevate your hips, then lift your right leg and turn out your right knee to place your ankle on your left leg just above your knee.

2. Slowly lower your hips to return to a seated position.

3. Hold this position for 30 seconds (or five slow breaths), breathing deeply throughout.

Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Seated twist

The seated twist stretches your hip rotators and glute muscles. 

1. Begin in a seated position on a yoga mat with your legs extended in front of you and your feet flexed. Lift your left leg and place your foot on the mat on the outside of your right knee. 

2. Wrap your right arm around your left knee and place your left hand on the mat behind your hip, gently pulling your knee in towards your chest.

3. Hold this position for 30 seconds (or five slow breaths), breathing deeply throughout. 

Repeat this stretch on the other side.

Why are there so many different glute stretches?

Your glutes are made up of more than one muscle. The biggest one, the gluteus maximus, is the one that provides a lot of power, as well as shape to your backside. 

The next largest is the gluteus medius, which helps you lift your leg to the side and rotate the leg. It also stabilises your leg as you move, so it’s important to keep it strong.

The gluteus minimus stabilises your pelvis and rotates the leg. Finally, the piriformis, located under the gluteus medius, connects your tailbone to your thigh bone, helping with hip rotation and flexion. 

Combining a few different stretches ensures you increase flexibility and mobility in all four glute muscles, which will boost your overall performance in your workouts, too!

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Use these stretches to relieve tight glutes

Regular stretching is an essential part of any health and fitness routine, especially if you’re working out regularly. Not only does it help to enhance workout recovery, it can also be great stress relief and an opportunity to calm your mind. 

You can find active recovery sessions in your My Program tab in the Sweat app, with options ranging from 10-30 minutes, or find more stretching sessions via the On Demand tab. The video guidance and written explanations for each position will help you to complete the stretches safely and with the correct form.

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* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.

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