Despite what some trainers say, glutes are never really "turned off," especially in really strong people. Still, many struggle to fully utilize their glutes when training.

If these same lifters could feel those glutes turning on, they could start to see some significant development in the size and strength of those formerly sleepy muscles.

With that in mind, here's a "glute activation series," followed by some very effective glute exercises, each incorporating bands.

1. The Glute Activation Series

Before we do any glute-specific exercises, we need to wake the glutes up – give them a sort of exercise-version of a cattle prod. Do this series first before starting leg training or moving on to the other two glute-specific exercises.

What to Do

  1. Internal and external rotations, 12 reps each side.
  2. Standing lateral leg raises, 12 reps each side.
  3. Bent-over kickbacks, 12 reps each side.
  4. 6-point (hands and knees) lateral leg raises (no band and work fast), 30 each side.
  5. Repeat for 2-3 rounds.

2. Banded Glute Lifts

Next is an exercise we can do between leg-training sets. For example, we can superset eccentric barbell RDLs with this glute exercise to better utilize our backside and add more volume.

What to Do

  1. Set up a band stretched across the pegs on the bottom of the rack. If your style of rack doesn't allow this, use dumbbells to anchor the bands.
  2. Start with your hands, knees, and feet in contact with the ground. The band should sit right in the crease behind your knee.
  3. Keeping a 90-degree bend at the knee, raise a single leg to where your quad is parallel to the ground.
  4. At this point, on the first rep, hold and squeeze at the top for 10 seconds. Follow this by doing 10 reps immediately after the hold.
  5. Switch legs.
  6. Repeat these for 3-4 sets if used prior to training or use them in a superset with another leg exercise.

3. Banded Kettlebell RDLs

Adding banded resistance to kettlebell Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) will add some unusual extra resistance at the top of your RDL. You'll definitely feel these in the glutes.

What to Do

  1. Use either a rack or dumbbells to anchor the band. Hook the band on one side, pull it through the kettlebell, then hook it on the opposite side.
  2. The kettlebell should be between your legs, directly in the center of the band.
  3. Hinge down and grab the weight.
  4. While maintaining tension and a flat back, drive through your backside and hinge back up to the top.
  5. Squeeze your butt at the top and don't over extend your hips. Go slow on the way down.
  6. Do 3 to 4 sets of 10 reps if done prior to your leg training or do them as part of a superset.

Related: 5 Heavy Band Exercises for Legs & Glutes

Related: 3 Ways to Activate Your Glutes