We’ve all know that we sit too much during the day and that sitting may be killing us.
And while moving more is important, your movement needs to REVERSE the effects of sitting.
You’ve got to make sure that you loosen tight muscles and get those muscles that become weak and inactive from sitting activated and working correctly again.
This is why I constant harp on improving hip mobility AND working on glute activation!
If you sit a lot during the day, your hips are tight from being in constant flexion (aka bent!). This tightness causes your glutes to often shut off, which means all of that squatting and lunging and deadlifting may not actually be working those butt cheeks!
It may mean you’re actually potentially risking pain and injury because other muscles are engaging and working so that you can squat and deadlift and lunge. Muscles that SHOULDN’T and CAN’T really handle the load!
Wonder why your low back so often hurts? Or why you only feel your quads during some of these compound moves?
It may be because your glutes aren’t actually working and engaging because they aren’t activated! And why aren’t they activated?
Because your hips are locked up!
To unlock your hips and activate your glutes, I like to do these 3 moves basically DAILY!
(And if you are looking for a complete program to unlock those hips and activate those glutes check out this AMAZING one – Unlock Your Hip Flexors!)
Half-Kneeling Hip (and Quad!) Stretch – I do this stretch as often as possible. It is the perfect way to reverse the effects of sitting and even start to activate your glutes. You can do a few different variations and hit your hips from a couple of different angles and even really stretch out your quad as well.
One HUGE key though to getting this stretch to actually work though is ENGAGING YOUR GLUTE! Too often people do this and don’t ACTUAL extend their hip because they lean forward or simply arch their low back.
If you don’t engage your glute and actually focus on extending your hip, guess what?! You don’t actually unlock your hips and you don’t really reverse all of the effects of sitting!
So no matter which version you pick, make sure to truly engage your glute and extend your hip and not simply your low back. If you are starting out, the version below is a great place to start! From there you can add in the quad stretch by grabbing your back foot or placing it up on a bench.
To do the Basic Half-Kneeling Hip Stretch, start half kneeling on the ground. Flex your back foot and squeeze your glute as you drive your back hip forward. Reach your hand up overhead so that you feel a nice stretch down the hip of the back leg. You can reach both hands up or simply the hand on the side that is back.
Squeeze the glute of your back leg so that you are actually fully extending your back hip and not simply arching your back. If you just hyperextend your low back, you will just be perpetuating the problem. Make sure you are truly extending your hip.
Breathe as you hold and reach your hands backward overhead or turn this into a dynamic stretch by releasing and then repeating the stretch.
You can also reach your arms to the side over your front leg if you want to hit your hip from a different angle and stretch your TFL and even the muscles of your back that help you bend to the side.
Leg Swings – If you ask any of my in-person clients, they’ll tell you I make them do this one basically daily along with the Half-Kneeling Hip Stretch. I LOVE this one because it not only works on balance and activates the muscles that stabilize your feet and lower legs, but it also wakes up your core, activates your glutes AND opens up your hips.
And it does all of these things in different planes of motion, which means you’ll be mobilizing your hips so you can move well in every direction!
There are three main variations of the Leg Swing I use; however, you can really swing in any direction. Just make sure to really engage the glute of the standing leg to help you balance and even use the glute of the other legs to swing, especially on the rotational one!
To do the 3-Way Leg Swings, start standing on one foot. Feel your foot gripping the ground and engage the glute of the standing leg to help you balance. Brace your abs and stand up nice and tall.
Keeping both legs fairly straight, but not locked out, begin to swing the other leg forward and backward. Swing from the hip, don’t just bend your knee and kick your lower leg. The bigger your swings are, the more your standing leg will have to work to balance.
Do not hold on to anything as you do this move. If you need to at the beginning, just perform smaller swings and tap your foot down as needed to reset and stabilize. You can hold onto a wall if you want to remove the balance element and instead just focus on mobilizing the hip, but remember that you are then taking out balance work and even building some extra core stability.
Complete all reps of the forward/backward swing then, still balancing on the same leg, switch to lateral swings. For the lateral swings, swing the leg up to the right and then to the left in front of your standing leg. You may even feel the outside of that glute working to raise the leg up as you swing it. The bigger your swing, the more you will open up your hip and force your standing leg to work hard to balance.
After performing the lateral swings, bend the knee of the leg you’ve been swinging to 90 degrees and perform rotational swing.
To do rotational swings, bring the bent knee in front of you and then open it out to the side. Bring the knee back forward, keeping the leg bent the entire time. Really focus on opening from the hip with this move. You should really feel the glute of the standing leg working as you rotate. The more your rotate, the harder the move will be, but also the more you will open your hips and get your glutes activated.
Once you complete all three swings, switch to the other side and do all three swings.
If you do this move correctly, you will feel your foot, calf and even your shin muscles working to balance. You will also feel your glute and core engaging as you swing your leg to open your hip.
Again start with a more basic balancing pose if you can’t maintain balance or perform smaller swings. The whole point of this move is to improve your mind-body connection and get things activated so you can balance.
Bridging – I don’t care if you do a Camel Bridge, Tabletop Bridge, Basic Glute Bridge or any other variation of the Bridge…If you aren’t doing some sort of bridge almost daily, you are missing out on a great chance to not only improve your hip extension but also activate your glutes!
Unlocking your hip flexors and keeping them unlocked isn’t only about stretching. Because if you stretch and then go right back and sit, you’ll simply tighten everything back up.
BUT if you actually get the muscles activated and working and STRENGTHEN through the range of motion you’ve established, you can actually improve your mobility, unlock your hip flexors and prevent and alleviate low back and hip pain (as well as even knee pain among other things!).
No matter how advanced an exerciser you are, you should always include a Basic BODYWEIGHT Glute Bridge in your routine…I know I do.
A. Because it is important to always return to basics and establish/maintain your mind-body connection.
B. Because with bodyweight exercises we are often actually able to contract our glutes harder AKA really make sure they are activated and working correctly!
Just a refresher on that Basic Bodyweight Glute Bridge…
To do the Basic Glute Bridge, lie on your back and bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. You may need to adjust your exact foot positioning based on how tight or mobile your hips are. You can move your feet slightly away or slightly closer to your butt, but just make sure you don’t move them so far away that you feel your hamstrings taking over.
Bend your elbows to 90 degrees so that only your upper arms are on the ground. This will help you really be able to drive down with your elbows, upper arms and back to help you bridge straight up instead of pushing yourself backward.
Then bridge up, driving through your heels and upper back and arms to lift your glutes up off the ground. Drive your hips up as high as possible, squeezing your glutes hard as you brace your abs. Keep your belly button drawn in so you don’t hyperextend your back. Focus and consciously squeeze your glutes at the top.
When you bridge, do not push backward off your heels. Make sure you are driving straight up and that your knees aren’t caving in. Even think about driving your knees forward over your toes to help extend your hips and prevent you from pushing yourself backward.
Squeeze your glutes for second or two at the top and lower all the way back down to the ground before repeating. Do not rush through the move.
OH and I also want to mention…Glute Activation and unlocking your hip flexors not only means reversing the effects of sitting so you prevent and alleviate injury and can lift more and run faster…
But it can also help with that LOWER BELLY POOCH!
Did you know that tight hip flexors can actually contribute to that hard to get rid of lower belly pooch!?! Well they can!
All the more reason to unlock those hips and get those booty cheeks working correctly.
For some essential flows and movements you NEED to be including in your workout routine, check out this program – Unlock Your Hip Flexors!
–> Click Here To Learn More About How To Unlock Your Hip Flexors! <–
Your posts and videos are pure revelation. Thank you, I do not go a day without your exercises. 🙂
Aw thank you! Glad to hear they are helping out! If you ever have any specific questions, let me know!
These really help with my IT Band too! Thank you.
I recently found your videos and blog…great workouts! Thank you so much!
That’s awesome! 🙂
Thank you! Glad you’re enjoying them 🙂
I am an avid marathon runner and I recently discovered your blog/videos and they have been incredibly helpful, especially the lower body foam rolling (which I don’t do enough of). I also have weak glute/hamstrings and I perform your glute workouts often (not frequently enough..ugh never enough time in a day). Thank you for posting these video’s and workouts. You have helped me so much.
Aw yay! Thank you Beth! Glad they are helping :-). I suggest picking a few to focus on and setting up a 10 minute routine you do every day. Maybe 5 minutes in the morning and 5 at night!
You are a total life saver! I have major issues with my hips/back especially after up slipping my pelvis. Slowly on the road to recovery, which is painful!
Glad these are helping! Just make sure to progress slowly and focus on the muscles working. If your glutes shut off, stop. Don’t let your low back or even hamstrings take over 🙂
Love your post and your moves and stretches and activation! I call this functional training because it makes us more functional! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Vickie! Yes definitely helps us move and feel better and that is what training should be all about 🙂
Thank you so much for your posts. I sit as a dispatcher for 12 hours a day, and lately have been feeling pain in low back daily. Also have had knee problems whenever I exercise, and have the lower belly pooch. As a former massage therapist, I should have known what was up, but ignored it. I can’t wait to start these exercises and will post again with my progress. So relevant! Thank you!
Awesome Erika! You may also want to include some of these booty activation workouts too. https://redefiningstrength.com/glute-activation-15-glute-bridge-variations-and-2-activation-series/
Will definitely add these to my Older Adult classes. I am completely in your corner about glutes and hips! I’m a “Harper” too! I tell my students to turn their pancakes into coconuts! Lol!
BAHHAH LOVE THAT! Pancakes into coconuts! 🙂
Oh I needed this soo much. I have one hip locked and one glute weaker. I was doing first exercise for a loong time you, BUT without success as I didnt know that I have to squeeze glute while stretching. I was not activating glute. THX!!!
Glad to help out! You may also want to think about doing more unilateral moves or one-sided moves so your stronger side can’t take over. Like this for instance…https://redefiningstrength.com/unilateral-booty-burner-workout/
Thanks for these simple and great exercise tips for desk workers! Love your focus on getting people out of the forward hunched habitual posture.
I have been in physical therapy for this very issue for the last month. I’m trickier to treat since I have arthritis in both knees (bone on bone in one). But now that I aware, I’m trying to take action. Thanks for the great post!
Yes definitely tricker! Some foam rolling while standing or even seated on a box could help loosen tight quads and hips…even a hand-held roller. And even a standing hip stretch/isometric move like the crescent could be good! And get some mini bands even! They allow you to do some standing glute activation! 🙂 Glad you are going to PT it will help!
Thank you! 🙂
Your blog and videos have transformed my training and consequently, I’ve seen results!! Thank you!!
Hi Charito! Glad to hear that they’ve helped 🙂
I have sciatic pain, is this the excerise that I should do? I don’t need to aggravate it more than it all ready is. I also have VERY tight IT bands. Thank you for any input.
Hi Deb. With sciatic pain it is very important you stretch your glutes and hips. I would also recommend glute foam rolling and heat on the glute muscles. It does really help with releasing the tight muscles. You’ll then also want to work on glute activation. If your IT Bands are tight, that can mean you are overusing your quads and your glutes aren’t activating as they should be.
New to exercise started with walking then mild jogging. However now have sciatica.
So what is the best thing. My calfs and hamstrings are great. Help and thank you
I would recommend foam rolling your glutes and doing pigeon pose on a daily basis. Glute activation and getting the glutes working properly is also key!
Hi I am 64 & had a new hip 2 yrs ago can u tell me which exercise is best I have lower back pain which I can’t sleep well with
Have you seen a PT?
Hi any suggestions for a adductor stretch…
Love your posts thanks I’ve trouble with my hamstring and adductor and have started doing the bridges and leg swings seems to be working…
Doing some mix of your many glute activation exercises every morning has reversed 2 and 1/2 years of constant, debilitating, and extremely painful and depressing (not to mention expensive to treat!!) lower back and glute pain. I truly feel like I have gotten my life back and that my body is mine and can do anything. Who knew it was so easy? Thank you!!!
This is great. I am getting frustrated with yoga because my hips are sooo frozen/ locked up. A video would be nice, with this description as commentary to bring it all together.
Hi Dawn, I have some videos of movements on my Youtube and have a few Facebook Lives on the subject if you want even more information 🙂 And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to message me! – Cori
That is AWESOME Lauren! Your hard work paying off! Keep it up!
What do you mean trouble? I ask so I can make recommendations whether foam rolling or stretching or activation is really necessary.
I bought the booty burner eorkout. But where do I get a band?
Hi Aimee. I got my mini band from Amazon. It’s the Perform Better brand. I’d recommend the variety pack. I linked below if you want to check that out 🙂 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GVS9EQK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01GVS9EQK&linkCode=as2&tag=r0cbd-20&linkId=7b6e0b73685b461e2adc673ad9544cb8
please tell me the name of the video for the glute/hip exercises. Thank you
Hi Cori – delighted to come across this today. I’m training to do a marathon in 4 weeks. Started getting knee pain just over a wk ago – get it towards end of long run – about mile 16 and pain aft up and down stairs and tender to touch. Had ITB rubbed out a week ago and rested but suffered aft last Sun long run again. Foam rolling and stretching daily – wondering should I avoid shorter runs and try rest for long run for next week or two and try get over the line in 4 wks – would really welcome your thoughts. Tks so much.
You need to come up with some alternatives for decrepit old people!
Well ,old people who are frail and cannot do your super athletic versions.
I have lots of my 60-75 year old clients doing the swings, hip flexors and glute bridges. You may want to check out my other glute bridge variations and even some of my standing band moves 🙂
Hi Sue. I have like four or five on my YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/redefiningstrengthOC
Fitness is all about ability. I’ve found these moves helpful for clients of all ages. If you need a balance assist, keep your hand on the wall.
Resting is good to reduce the irritation at the moment, but you need to correct the problem. I’d definitely think of using some glute activation so fire hydrants and bridges before you run to get the glutes firing after you roll and stretch. If you have pain, it could be helpful with your race to see a doc or even a PT so you don’t end up sidelined at the last moment!
Any good stretches for sciatica? I’ve had it since January and apart from a pirifirmus stretch helping sometimes , I haven’t been able to get much ease.
I’d do glute foam rolling, pigeon pose, heating and glute activation.
I think you mean LOWER BELLY POUCH – or LOWER BELLY PAUNCH?
Nope. I mean lower belly pooch 🙂
Hi, can you give me any advice on planter fasitices
Hi Cori ? How many reps of each exercise should we do? Sorry if you listed it and I somehow missed it. And also a big thank you for all your helpful advice and exercises!
So I would do about 10 for the stretches and just one round before your workout and then 15-20 reps for activation. You should check out the mini band booty burner too I have on my blog 🙂 And thanks! Happy to help!
Definitely check out my foot and ankle pain article 🙂
Hi there. What a great site! I have been suffering with piriformus and the route cause has just been found …. weak glutes! In fact they have forgotten how to fire up! What would you recommend ?
Hi Fiona! Booty burner workouts I have like this one would be great! https://redefiningstrength.com/unilateral-booty-burner-workout/
I need these as a 6″3 track athlete i don’t have the stride lenght i should be getting and my hamstrings hurt all the time
So I tried a few of these out this morning I’m and now my lower back is a little sore. I understand by unlocking something is like a chain reaction to solving other issues but is the lower back pain a normal sore I’m going to feel afterwards?
I would definitely look at activating those glutes and even some foam rolling for your feet, lower legs, hamstrings and hips!
No that isn’t good at all. That means that instead of actually extending your hip flexors during the moves, you are instead arching and hyperextending your low back. You need to focus on using your glutes to create the extension as I mention in the article. Which is hard the more locked up you are. I would recommend videoing you doing the moves or really work on bracing those abs throughout. You need to be conscious of what is working during because I think you’ll feel that your glutes aren’t. During the hip flexor stretch, make sure to really think about squeezing the butt to get the stretch. And if you video, you can email to [email protected] and I can always give you form feedback.
I’ve had chronic hamstring pain for 12 months and recently had an MRI ….diagnosis hamstring tendonopathy. I’ve been to physio and have been bridging, rolling my hamstrings and doing clams and stretching hip flexors but it’s not really improving. My adductors are also tight.
I have just discovered a massive deficit in strength on the affected side in a unilateral supine bridge. I cannot even hold an isometric contraction without my hips droping the minute I lift the contralateral leg off the ground. I have been looking at your booty burner and while it has a lot of activation exercises does it have any specific hip flexor stretches? Thanks
Ok so it’s also about the timing of how you do things. Roll, stretch and activate. Not that you aren’t but I want to remind you. Because if you don’t relax the muscles, they may try to engage during your activation. So I would actually recommend you do the RStoration as I think the core sequencing bracing and full body mobility will be better for you than the Booty Burner. If you do have any questions too, don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected]. Here to help! RStoration if you want to check it out –> https://goo.gl/4zekKw
Hi. I had a microdisectomy 2 yrs ago and have finally healed, but am left with weak legs and glutes. What are the best exercises specifically to strengthen and stretch them? Its hard to stand from a sitting position, and getting up from the floor is extra challenging both due to lack of strength.
Since my pregnancies over 10 years ago I have separated lower stomach muscles and as a result avoided ab exercises. What can I do to improve this? Thank you!
Hi Robyn. Did you have PT? You will want to do core bracing and glute activation even standing to start. But that will be key to protect your back!
Hi Mirjam. Pelvic tilt and glute activation using that core bracing technique could be key. Have you checked out some of my booty burners? Those light core activation moves can help!
Hello, just been reading all these really interesting comments. I have a slipped disc causing sciatic pain. I’ve had a nerve root block injection but still suffer with a certain amount of discomfort and pain. Are these glute and hip excercises ok for slipped discs?
Have you done your Physio? Glute activation and core activation can be key but you need to make sure to get the right muscles working.
thanks for this great little program.
For the past year I have had problems with a ‘locked” hip on the L. One opinion is that a mild scoliosis has caused the pelvis to twist putting the l hip posterior and down. As a result the posterior chain and glutes esp have not been kicking in causing huge problems with my L achilles tendon. ( Or has a restricted gait due to a primary achilles problem caused the inactive gluteus medius to become inactive?)Has improved with some work however rotation and flexion is still impinged. Now when I walk and consciously engage the glute in posterior phase of stride I feel a small click on the L. Possible hip?? eek No pain yet, but is this serious? I would so appreciate your view and whether you think anything more can be done.
I am going to give this a try I have issue with my It band and also have bursitis in the same leg as IT Bans issue.i love walk and running but if I walk to long run or even sit to long stand to long. I have so much lower back pain.
Sorry this went to spam! Are you foam rolling Carol? Feel free to message me more at [email protected] so I can find out more!
Are you doing activation series and foam rolling too?
Hello Cori,,i am 48,male and an avid stand up paddler,,racing,squad training,,i always have very tight glutes from paddling i think mainly from lack of activation because my hip flexors and groin muscle are just so tight all the time after paddling and i think they are doing all the work,,i am very strong on my left side and my right side is so weak like 70 to 30,,and i found out that i have a tear in my left glute medius don;t know how i did it has been like that for years,,and i think that accounts for being stronger on that side because the other glute muscles have to work extra hard to cover for the tear,,,if my glutes were stronger and hip flexors were free i would have alot more power to paddle without over taxing my other muscles,,what program do you suggest??,,thanks.
Hi Roman. Are you doing any foam rolling? Have you done physio for the tear?
Hey Cori. Just have to say, great content!
I was wondering if there are any other more “advanced” movements/stretches you would recommend specifically for someone that sits for a large portion of the day?
My squat has been stuck at 250LB for ~8 reps. I feel like I am lacking glute activation, in turn causing bad form and discomfort in the SI joint.
There’s no reason that my bench should be stronger than my squat, so any further advice would be great 🙂
Thanks Ben! So I would tell you to consider working on lat activation as well as glute for sure. And check your ankle mobility too if you haven’t. Some of these could be good for your squat:
How many repetitions of the swings do you suggest?? Thank you for your blog it helps me finding new variations for my glutes movement and for the stretches!
I usually do 10 reps each way as part of a warm up.
Respectfully, all this talk about stretching hip flexors and activating glutes….I think this would tighten my glutes and piriformis even more than they are now and significantly contribute to more SI joint pain. Isn’t all this squeezing and tightening exactly what is contraindicated to loosen up the backside and free the hips? What am I missing here? Thank you
Hi Dave. Well depending on what you have going on there are different rehab moves you want to include. But glute activation is sometimes key if you have piriformis issues as often you are externally rotating so need to learn how to activate without that external rotation. It also means glute medius work to work on your abductor strength so other muscles don’t want to compensate. And for you, with SI joint issues, you may also need to work on your lats. But too often our lower back becomes overworked because our hip flexors create lordosis of our lumbar spine and that arch puts extra strain on our backs while hindering our glutes from working effectively. And you have to remember you are trying to activate the underactive muscles that AREN’T firing correctly while lengthening shortened ones. And if you do have trigger points, you can include foam rolling to help relax them 🙂
I have had lower back pain for the last three years, with nothing showing up on an MRI etc. I seem to have really open hip flexors (I think, as I have a lot of flexibility in things like pigeon pose etc ??) as well as a lot of flexibility with my hamstrings, but I think my glutes are doing almost nothing. My main form of exercise is yoga. I have back pain during yoga with forward bends etc but I still do it anyway to stay sane and because the back pain would be there even if I didn’t do yoga. What I’m wondering is if you can give me any recommendations to try for my back, along with things that can support my yoga. Thanks
Hi Deborah. Do you have any hypermobility? It sounds like some glute activation and ab activation would be key. You didn’t happen to see my latest live did you?
Thanks for free exercises that are actually helping my lower back pain. Got physio but advice only included stretching and made things worse. I’ve done yoga for 16 years but my job became more sedentary and that’s what started my pain. Appreciate the free advice, as I’m currently a poor student ?
So glad they help 🙂
I deliver mail in my car and I know my hips are tight from sitting and have recurring low back pain that bothers me at night while sleeping.. I am going to try this and see if it helps.. I have been doing yoga stretches for hips and low back also.
I would recommend adding in some foam rolling too as well as for sure ab and glute activation.
Thank you! This is exactly what I needed
So glad it helped Mary!
Hi, i did these stretch exercises. I’m normally a fit person but I I’ve damaged my knee when doing one of them. Gutted. Can you recommend a stretch for a now painful knee.
Hi Susie. Which stretch did you do and hurt your knee on? Have you seen someone about your aches and pains? Usually when we hurt something during a move with no impact or loads like that, it is the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” So we need to address the true culprit. Feel free to message me if you need help too so I can learn more about what hurts and what you were doing when it hurt and previous injuries you’ve had.
I have issues engaging my side glute while doing Side balance leg lifts. Just one one side. Like all the other muscles trying to do the work and the side but muscle just shaking and weak. Would this mean I maybe have an alignment issue or just a weak side butt muscle ?
Regress to progress. If you can’t activate during a move, focus on modifying it or adjusting your exact posture and positioning to allow that muscle to be isolated. And then address what is trying to compensate in how you position and the other mobility work you include. But I won’t lie, getting assessed to see what is inhibiting that muscle Melissa will really help!