Glute Strengthening Tips for Endurance Runners

Today I will be writing about my bum.

My physiotherapist says I suffer from a condition that is common to most runners: lazy glutes. I have, apparently, fairly strong glutes. It just so happens that they would rather sit around and let my legs do all the work to support their weight.

By learning to incorporate my glute muscles into my runs, it’s like running with an extra leg’s worth of power. For longer distances, it takes a significant strain off your exhausted legs, allowing you to run longer and faster without getting as tired. Plus it’s an amazing glute workout in itself. Every runner deserves a good bum!


Extend one leg directly behind you without bending your knee. Like this:

Now place your hand on the top half of your bum and have a feel. Is the muscle soft? Hard? Then feel your hamstring. What muscle are you using to pull your leg back? If you’re not sure, ask someone else to feel it. (Preferably not a stranger.) If your glute doesn’t stiffen, you’re only using your hamstring: ineffective for running.

Now lie on the ground, tuck in your bum so your back is straight and not curved. Bend your knees to place your heels as close to your bum as possible. Lift your bum off the ground while keeping your hips straight. Hold your arms in front of you or rest them on your chest so you don’t use them for support. It will look like this:

If that’s too easy, extend one leg in the air like this:

My hips could actually be higher here. You can see how I’m already starting to drop them. You should be feeling this in your glute.

In a perfect world, a marathoner or ultra runner should be able to hold this pose for hours. Realistically, most people can’t hold that pose for a minute.

My physio recommended building up a little every day until you can hold it for at least a minute in good form. As soon as your form starts to slip and your hips start to drop, you’re done. Stop and try again another time. It’s important to always push up on the right muscles or your legs will take over.


I have found that there is only one really effective way for me to activate my glutes: Do it consciously. I have to literally think about it and make sure I’m tightening my glutes and making them pull their weight.

This can apply to walking as well. For the past week I have been walking and running around using the muscles in my bum. It’s tough.

Consciously incorporating glutes into your movements will immediately increase your running power. However, if you’d like to build your glute muscles, there are tons of exercises out there that can help you do that.

Bums! They’re more than just eye candy my friends.

4 responses

  1. Great article, having to do the very same workout from PT for a right hip tendonitis issue…..thought the running would get it all done. Also doing a clam exercise with the bridges you pictured about, thanks for the reminder to do my “homework” tonight. Good luck in your studies!

  2. My physical therapist told me the same thing – weak hips & lazy butt muscles are causing most of the injuries or muscles stresses I’ve had in the past year I’ve been running. Appreciate all the information above – now i just have to force myself to do the exercises and change!

  3. That’s a great write up. Weak glutes are implicated in IT Band Syndrome, Lower Cross Syndrome and many other muscle imbalance conditions that can plague us. Muscle imbalances can rear up in times of a long run on the same kind of surface (like a 24-hour race) where the terrain may not vary. That’s why your legs feel perhaps more tired during the latter hours of a 24-hour race rather than during the later miles of a 50- or 100-miler. You’ve been using the same part of the same muscles over and over again without variation. Painful!

    A strong butt will keep us running hard!

  4. I’ve been wondering why I have so much glute pain after long runs and finding they are the weakest link (along with some core issues). Now that I’m aware I also have been trying to engage them more and strengthen with exercises from my PT. However working at a desk all day doesn’t help, it help make the glutes stretched out and lazy. So on goes the perpetual progress of balancing the body! I know your post is from years ago but it applies all the time. Hope things got much better!

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