When it comes to working out, most runners are happy just lacing up their shoes and hitting the pavement. But slotting in a glute workout for runners alongside your regular mileage can pay big dividends. So get ready to add in some new butt exercises!
Before we get into why strong glutes matter, here’s a quick anatomy refresher. Your glutes are a muscle group consisting of three key players: your gluteus maximus, or your biggest butt muscle, as well as your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, the two smaller muscles that form your side butt. While all three muscles are important and should work together to complete various functions and movements, your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius in particular are especially important for runners looking to boost their performance and decrease their risk of injury, certified strength-and-conditioning specialist Janet Hamilton, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist and running coach with Running Strong in Atlanta, tells SELF. So she created a four-move glute workout for runners—which you can get all the details on below!—that does just that.
As for why butt strength matters in running? Basically, your glutes form the “seat of your power” as a runner, says Hamilton. That means the stronger your glutes are, the more powerful your stride. Moreover, since your glutes are attached to your legs, having strong glutes can help reduce your risk of lower leg injuries including “runner’s knee” (a vague term referring to a number of conditions involving the patellofemoral joint), iliotibial band syndrome, medial tibial stress syndrome (also known as shin splints), and plantar fasciitis, says Hamilton.
Another reason to care about glute strength: A strong butt can help your runs simply feel easier. As Hamilton explains it, any physical activity—whether that’s lifting a heavy bag of groceries, walking up stairs, or holding a yoga pose—will feel less taxing if you have greater reserve muscle strength to call on. In the case of running, having stronger glutes will make any given run feel like a lot less work.
With all that in mind, Hamilton developed the following butt workout that you can do at home with just your bodyweight and a mini-band, making it an easy addition to your routine. (Here are some great mini-band choices if you’re not sure which to choose!) You’ll see there are suggested ranges for the reps, sets, and rest periods, so listen to your body and tailor the program accordingly. For optimal results, do this workout two to three times a week, either on days that you have an easy run or no run at all planned, says Hamilton.
However you slot this butt circuit into your schedule, do a brief warm-up first so you don’t jump in with cold muscles. It doesn’t need to be long or complicated—something as simple as a few minutes of walking can do the trick. (You can also consider these five pre-workout stretches designed to warm you up for any routine.)
Feeling ready to fire up your glutes and become a stronger, more resilient runner? Keep scrolling for an amazing four-move butt workout for runners that may just become a new go-to in your arsenal of at-home workouts.
What you need: An exercise mat for comfort and a mini-band. Pick a band with enough resistance that completing the prescribed reps below with proper form feels challenging but doable.
- Standing Glute Kick-Back
- Glute Bridge
- Donkey Kick
- If you’re a beginner, start by trying 10 reps of each butt exercise. If that feels easy, feel free to increase the rep range. If you’re an intermediate to advanced exerciser, do up to 30 reps of each move. The right number of reps will vary based on your fitness level and other factors, but as a general guide, do as many reps as it takes to get to the point where completing reps with good form starts to feel challenging (though definitely stop before your form suffers). If you’re getting to the high end of the rep range and it still feels too easy, make the move more challenging by doing one of the progression options listed below.
- Rest minimally in between moves (though of course take breaks if you feel like you can’t catch your breath or your form starts to falter).
- Do 1-3 rounds total, taking as much rest as you need in between rounds to ensure you can tackle the next round with good form. The right amount of rest will vary based on your fitness level and other factors, but as a starting point, aim for 1-2 minutes.
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Demoing the moves below are Nikki Pebbles (GIF 1), a special populations personal trainer in New York City; Hejira Nitoto (GIF 2), a mom of six and a certified personal trainer and fitness apparel line owner based in Los Angeles; April Nicole Henry (GIF 3), a strength athlete, mother, and wife who was born and raised in New York; and Crystal Williams (GIF 4), a group fitness instructor and trainer in New York City.