Spending your nine-to-five on your backside – whether at a desk or in a driver’s seat – is a fact of life for many of us. No matter how much you break it up, this sedentary existence is a common cause of non-specific lower back pain. One study estimates this affects roughly one-third of the UK adult population each year.
You can, however, take preventive action. Strengthening your glutes with simple bodyweight exercises can help take the strain off your spine. “Your glutes are the largest muscles in the body and making them strong can help prevent back pain, a common result of our sedentary lives,” fitness influencer Krissy Cela tells Coach.
The Insta-famous PT (2.7 million followers and counting) and co-founder of workout app Tone & Sculpt swears by this bodyweight circuit to activate all the muscles of the posterior chain, from the hamstrings and glutes to the lower back. “Strong glutes help to keep the pelvis in alignment, power us forward when we walk and help us to sit, stand and move,” Cela says. “This glutes workout is perfect for any level, any goal – anyone.”
How To Do The Workout
All you need is a chair or sofa to use as a support for one of the exercises and a mini looped resistance band for the final move. This type of resistance band is as cheap as chips – here are our mini-loop resistance band recommendations, many of which cost less than a fiver.
Perform each exercise without rest between moves. Rest for 60 seconds between rounds, aiming for four rounds in total. “You can use this as a stand-alone lower-body workout or do just one or two rounds to activate your muscles before a run or lower-body weights workout,” says Cela.
1 Squat hold
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping your chest up and back straight, push your hips back and bend your knees to lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push your knees out during the movement to keep your knees over your toes. Hold this seated squat position for 30 seconds, keeping your breathing steady, then push through your heels to stand back up.
2 Frog pump
Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together. Push your knees out to the sides and lift your hips as you would for a hip thrust (see below), squeezing at the top of the movement. Bring your knees back together, lower your glutes and repeat.
Sit on the floor and lean your upper back against a sturdy chair or sofa. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Tuck your chin into your chest and drive through your feet to raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement, then slowly lower to tap your bum on the floor and repeat.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your sides with your palms down. Engage your core, then lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Hold the bridged position for a couple of seconds, then ease back down.
5 Kneeling hip thrust
Kneel with your knees shoulder-width apart (place a mat or towel under your knees if the position is uncomfortable), your feet together and your bum resting on your heels. Push your torso up and forwards, extending your hips. Squeeze your glutes together at the top and return to the starting position. This is a great beginner alternative to squats if you don’t yet have the mobility to move through the full range.
6 Crab walk
Stand with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower into a quarter squat position with your toes pointed out. Keeping your chest up, take sideways steps, maintaining the space between your feet as you step. This move can be done with just bodyweight but it’s even better if you wrap a mini resistance band around your legs, just above your knees, and keep resistance in the band with each step. You’ll know if it’s working because your glutes will be on fire.
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Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix. Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.