How should I do the gluteal pumps exercise?

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To perform gluteal pumps, start in a quadruped position. Your hands should be parallel to your thighs, and underneath your shoulders. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor. From this position, draw in your belly button to your spine, by tightening your stomach, and then extend one hip, keeping the knee flexed to 90 degrees – as if you’re bringing your heel towards the ceiling. Perform the desired amount of repetitions, and repeat on the other side. Be careful not to let your back arch or tilt while performing this movement.

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy

Gluteal pumps restore strength to the gluteus maximus (which extends and externally rotates the hip joint as well as guides the femoral head in the hip socket). Gluteal strength is critical for proper hip and knee mechanics.

It's best for everyone to begin at level 1 gluteal pumps because you can more easily isolate the gluteal muscles without compensating through other parts of the body. Lie on your stomach. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees while stabilizing the lumbar spine by drawing in the belly button; if you can't do this, then try Windshield Wipers, Level 1. Now lift your right leg with the knee bent, focusing on squeezing the gluteus muscles to lift your leg rather than pulling it up with the hamstring muscles or arching the spine. Hold for 2 breaths, then slowly lower your leg with the gluteals in control. Repeat 5-10 repetitions or until fatigued. If this is difficult, try squeezing both gluteal cheeks together then lifting your leg.

You can practice Level 2 once you've achieved 10 repetitions of Level 1 without compensating through the spine or using the hamstrings to lift your leg. Assume a position on your elbows and knees with your spine in a flattened (neutral) position. Hold your spine in place by drawing your belly button in toward your spine. Squeeze your gluteals to raise one leg up in the air with knee bent at 90 degrees. Stop at the point where you feel the maximal contraction of these muscles. Your thigh should roughly be in line with your trunk at this point. Slowly lower your leg until you feel the gluteals are not contracting any longer; this will be the lowest point of the range of motion you will work in. Usually this is a small range of motion initially, say, 1/4-1/2 inch. Pump your leg up and down in a small, controlled motion while maintaining the gluteal contraction. Do not lower your leg to the point the gluteals turn off. Make the gluteals fatigue. Perform 10-30 repetitions until fatigue, failure, or compensations occur (such as the spine arching or the hamstrings becoming fatigued instead of the gluteals). Switch sides.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.