If you’re someone who likes to hit the gym regularly or is into running, chances are you’ve experienced glute imbalance at some point. This is a common problem among athletes, wherein some muscles in one glute are stronger than the other, leading to a lopsided appearance.
To fix glute imbalance, you need to work out intentionally and ensure that your muscles are developing equally. In this guide, we’ll be taking a closer look at the key factors that contribute to glute imbalance and how to fix the problem.
What is Glute Imbalance?
Glute imbalance occurs when there is a strength imbalance between the glutes. One glute is stronger, more developed, or more active than the other glute. The muscles in the under-utilized glute will be weaker and smaller, leading to a lopsided appearance.
The Causes of Glute Imbalance
Several factors contribute to glute imbalance, including:
- Unilateral Movement Patterns: Some unilateral movement patterns, such as one-legged squats or lunges, activate one side of the glutes more than the other, leading to imbalance.
- Weak Glutes: Weak glutes restrict the ability of the muscle to activate during exercise, leading to imbalances.
- Injury: Injuries to the lower back or glutes can lead to muscle inhibition, causing an imbalance.
- Sedentary Lifestyle: Sitting for long periods of time can cause glutes to become inactive and weaker.
How to Identify Glute Imbalance
Before you can fix glute imbalance, you need to identify it. The most obvious sign is a lopsided appearance of the glutes. However, several other indicators can help you identify glute imbalance, including:
- Lower back pain
- Tight hip flexors
- Knee pain in one leg
- Poor posture
- Uneven leg lengths
What You Need to Fix Glute Imbalance
Fixing glute imbalance requires a few basic tools:
- A foam roller
- An exercise mat
- Dumbbells or resistance bands
- Access to an exercise facility
How to Fix Glute Imbalance: Exercises and Workouts
Warm-up and Mobility Exercises
Before you start any workout, it’s important to warm up and perform mobility exercises to activate your glutes and prepare your body for exercise.
Here are some warm-up and mobility exercises:
- Clamshells: Lie on one side with both legs bent at the knees. Keeping your feet together, lift the top knee up towards the ceiling while keeping your heels together.
- Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet and shoulder-width apart. Slowly lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
- Monster Walks: Put a resistance band around both ankles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Take a step to the right with your right foot, then follow with your left foot.
Exercises to Fix Glute Imbalance
Once you’ve completed your warm-up, you can start with exercises that focus on evening out your glutes.
Some of the best exercises to fix glute imbalance include:
- Split Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a large step forward with one foot, and lower your rear knee to the ground, keeping your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Single-Leg Deadlifts: Holding a dumbbell in one hand or a resistance band in both hands, stand on one leg with your knee slightly bent. Lean forward, extending your free leg behind you while lowering the dumbbell towards the floor.
- Side-Lying Leg Lifts: Lie down on one side with your bottom leg bent and your top leg straight. Lift your top leg up towards the ceiling, hold for one second, then bring it back down.
Strength Training and Resistance Exercise
Adding strength training and resistance exercise to your routine is an effective way to fix glute imbalance. These exercises help to increase muscle mass and strength.
Some of the best strength training and resistance exercises for fixing glute imbalance include:
- Barbell Squats: Begin with a barbell resting on your shoulders, step back from the squat rack, feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down, keeping your knees and shoulders aligned.
- Deadlifts: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward. Keep your back straight and your legs moving as close to your body as possible as you lift the bar with either a double-overhand grip (recommended for beginners) or mixed grip (one hand facing the body, and one facing away).
- Hip Thrusts: Lie down with your back on the ground, knees up and feet flat on the ground. Put a resistance band around both knees. From this position, lift your hips up as high as you can.
How to Fix Glute Imbalance: Lifestyle Changes
Stretching is an essential part of any exercise routine, and it helps to maintain muscle balance while improving flexibility. By stretching the muscles around the glutes, you can improve their ability to activate.
Some great stretches for fixing glute imbalance include:
- Wall Pigeon Stretch: Begin standing in front of a wall, facing away from it, with your hands on the wall. Lift your left ankle up and rest it on your right knee. Sink into the stretch, trying to get your left knee closer to the wall.
- Figure Four Stretch: Start lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Cross your left ankle over your right knee, grabbing the back of your right thigh with both hands. Pull your legs in towards your chest.
- Standing Hamstring Stretch: Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Extend your left leg in front of you, keeping your heel on the ground, then hinge forward from your hips, reaching for your toes with both hands.
Avoiding Sitting for Long Periods
As we mentioned earlier, a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to glute imbalance. Therefore, it’s essential to avoid sitting for long periods. Set up a timer on your phone or take a break after every 30 minutes to stand up and stretch.
Hydration and Nutrition
Hydration and nutrition play a vital role in muscle recovery and growth. Ensure that you drink an adequate amount of water and eat a balanced diet rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats to aid in muscle repair and prevent imbalances.
Whether you’re an athlete or someone who stays active, glute imbalance is a common problem. By following the tips and exercises discussed in this guide, you can fix glute imbalance and achieve an aesthetically pleasing and functional posterior.
Questions and Answers:
- What causes glute imbalance? Several factors contribute to glute imbalance, including unilateral movement patterns, weak glutes, injury, and a sedentary lifestyle.
- What are the common signs of glute imbalance? Lower back pain, tight hip flexors, knee pain in one leg, poor posture, and uneven leg lengths can indicate glute imbalance.
- How to fix glute imbalance? Exercises like split squats, single-leg deadlifts, and side-lying leg lifts, strength training, and stretching, as well as some lifestyle changes like avoiding long periods of sitting and maintaining good nutrition, can help fix glute imbalance.
- The Glute Guy. (2019). Exercise selection for glute hypertrophy. Accessed at https://bretcontreras.com/exercise-selection-for-glute-hypertrophy/.
- Muscle and Motion. (2022). Gluteal Muscle Anatomy. Accessed at https://www.muscleandmotion.com/gluteal-muscle-anatomy/.
- NHS. (2021). Why is sitting bad for you? Accessed at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/why-sitting-too-much-is-bad-for-us/.