It’s All In the Glutes | Training Tip for Mountaineers

It’s All In the Glutes

This training tip takes us back to basic glute function. All mountaineering-related activities, whether climbing or skiing, require strong and active glute muscles.

Why do so many of my athletes have issues with glute activation or function?

In today’s culture, most of us spend too much time sitting. From the time we are young we sit in desks, cars, and couches.

Even if we move regularly, the act of sitting and slouching turns muscles off. This is especially true for the Gluteus Maximus because you sit on it directly. As the point of contact between the chair and your body, your glute max is pressed upon and stretched, which causes it to lose its normal tension—it turns off.

If we don’t check in and turn our glutes back on, they aren’t going to work properly. This is a problem because our glues are core instigators of power.

The following training tips are designed to get you thinking and focusing on glute function. This awareness will help you properly activate your glutes while training which in turn will help you gain strength.

Once you have the hang of it, pay attention when skiing and climbing. Use your glutes as the primary movers and stabilizers along with your hamstrings and core and suddenly your quads won’t be on fire and your knees won’t hurt as much.

Beginning to strengthen and gain awareness in the gym is a stepping-stone to applying a fully-functional body to any mountaineering-related activity—where the body is challenged even more by the application of skiing or climbing in the variable environment.

Here’s a little something more on this subject (and other alignment issues):

Activate Your Glutes

  1. While standing, squeeze your glutes. This is easy for most.
  2. In a plank, try squeezing your glutes. This can be harder for some, but is a basic piece of a solid plank.
  3. Sitting on a bench or chair, with your feet flat on the ground and slight pressure on the heel of the foot, sit upright with good posture and squeeze your glutes. Your body should actually raise up an inch or two from the mass of the flexed glute and hamstring.
  4. While seated as above, squeeze your right glute and release, then squeeze your left glute and release. Doing this drill gives you proprioceptive feedback—feeling the contraction to make sure its happening. It’s easiest to do when seated so you don’t have to worry about balance and other muscles, for now.
  5. Next, try to stand from the bench with no additional weight, focusing on using your glutes to create the upward movement. See: Glute Stand Exercise | Training Tips for Mountaineers | Chicks
  6. Don’t allow your knees to angle in. See: Glute Stand with Poor Form | Training Tips for Mountaineers | Chicks. If your knees angle in you may have glute med/min weakness. Try doing the standing movement with a band around your legs to correct and strengthen. See: Glute Stand with Band | Training Tips for Mountaineers | Chicks.

Other Movements to Activate Your Glutes

  1. Step Up – try this focusing on using the glute with just a single leg working, pressure on the heel of the foot on the box, good posture, stand using the glute. Once again don’t let that knee angle inward. See: Step Up Exercise (good form, poor form, good form) | Training Tips for Mountaineers | Chicks.
  2. Lunge – front leg glute is lifting the body, pressure on the heel, back leg glute is squeezing, isometric contraction for balance, watch knee alignment as mentioned above.
  3. Spilt Squat – same, front leg glute is lifting the body, pressure on the heel, back leg glute is squeezing, isometric contraction for balance, watch knee alignment as mentioned above.
  4. Squat with Weight – lift by activating your glutes versus pulling up with your quads.

Take this focus and awareness into all your movements, even walking ( :

Enjoy the practice!

If you need information for training for a specific climb or trip of any nature you can contact me at:


Carolyn Parker

Founder Ripple Effect Training

Gym Jones, Fully Certified Instructor

AMGA Certified Rock Guide