The Glutes Will Save Your Life

Warning! In reading this post, one may obtain strong, lifesaving glutes, and a toned tush. This post is for ALL AGES.

In this business, your phone starts blowing up during different phases of your life. In my 30s, the weekend warrior friends called frequently about sports injuries. For example, my college bestie was playing soccer and headed the ball during a weekend adult tournament. As a baby 32-year-old she was out of commission for weeks with neck dysfunction.

But this decade is different. In my 40s, I get Instagram and Facebook messages, texts, emails, and phone calls all asking the same thing: “What exercises will improve my mobility and physical/mental function?” and “What tailored exercises should I do every day to improve my overall quality of life?”

People want a preventative prescription, ensuring they can stay mobile in all the right places so they can do the activities they love. It’s as if people see their later years already, and they understand the importance of moving better before they have problems.

Enter the glutes. I have been posting a ton of videos on my IG account the last six months on the functional glute work we prescribe in in my studio, Mind the Mat.

People go crazy over the glutes because of how they make our butts look (enter Sir Mix-A-Lot), but I go crazy over the glutes because I’m convinced they will save our lives.

Seriously, the glutes will save your life.


The Role of Gluteus Maximus (glute max)

  • The glute max is a powerful hip extender, and has an important role in walking and running efficiency. It is also the prime, powerful mover when going from a sitting position to standing and when negotiating stairs.
  • Research shows that the glutes help stabilize and keep the trunk erect during running. (Lieberman DE, Raichlen DA, Pontzer H, Bramble DM, Cutright-Smith E. The human gluteus maximus and its role in running. J Exp Biol. 2006 Jun;209(Pt 11):2143-55.)


The Role of Gluteus Medius (glute med)

  • The glute med has a huge role in standing balance since it stabilizes your pelvis while standing on one leg. Without a strong glute med, certain people are at higher risk of falls. For some people, like older adults, falls can be serious and life threatening since they lead to immobility.
  • Glute med also stabilizes the pelvis during running and other athletic activities. If the glute med is weak or does not fire correctly, injuries can occur and thus lead to immobility or pain.


OK, so what should you do? Do these exercises every day or every other day if you like your current exercise routine. Supplement these in with your cycle class, running routine, and even your yoga practice. (We include these in all HAWT Pilates classes at Mind the Mat so you are good there…shameless plug, yes.)


Cross Midline High Reach

On all fours, reach your right leg high up to the left, crossing your midline (your midline is an imaginary line dividing your body into left and right halves). Then switch and reach your right leg across your midline and high to the left. Do for one minute.


Inverted Butt Lift

This one is a bit complicated. Basically you are internally rotating at the hip and doing mini lifts. Keep the motion slow. Perform for one minute each side.

I think I’ve waited long enough to post a new butt video, right? This is a tough motion to perfect. Internally rotate the hip then add terminal hip extension. You’ll hear me say “it gets a part of the butt that’s never been gotten” – true. You’ll also hear me say “be careful” to someone who has a hip labral tear. I have one too. It’s aggravated by internal rotation and flexion, but I like adding the extension to counter that. Please watch the pelvis here, make sure it’s square and the lumbar spine is stable (it’ll want to rotate right). More on hip labral tears later…a lot of active people have them. We named this move the Humpty Dance. 🍑 #glutes #glutiful #motorcontrol #neuro #corestability #glutework #core work #hawtpilates #pilatesbootcamp #humptydance #extraordinaryalx #visitdelray #wellray

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Inverted Diagonal

Start on your elbows and knees. Bring your knees together and your feet apart (process that for a moment). Lift your leg up in the air, then bring your knee back down on the mat and put weight in it. Perform one minute each side.

Did you know the gluteals are more of an ENDURANCE muscle group than a POWER group? This is why we do over 1000 terminal extension/glute lifts at all angles during one class. I am meeting skilled clinicians at #aptacsm especially my favorite presenter, Dr. BJ Lehecka who blew my mind with his literature review on the glutes and the female #runner and his own research! I will be tagging you now @bjl 🍑watch out—a ton of butt videos are coming your way. Disclaimer: I added a bit of #physicaltherapist humor here—no, I do not pop dislocated hips back into the socket. But, PTs have that clinical reasoning to coach people on what TO DO and what NOT to do. #hawtpilates #hawtpilatesteachertraining #extraordinaryalx #mindthemat #visitdelray

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Side Butt Tap and Lift

Come down on your left elbow and up on your right hand. Reach your right leg out to the side keeping your knee straight and slightly turned out. Lift and tap the floor. Please listen to this video for form tips. Do one minute on each side.

🔈on. “Skilled instruction”—What is that? It’s the difference between following a list of exercises and tapping into the correct and most ideal muscle groups to perform a particular movement in order to gain a change in function. In #HAWTpilates training, we talk about The How vs. The What (that’s trademarked btw. Just kidding, it’s not but it’s copyrighted. Just kidding. But I think so). You can tell someone to “lift their leg out to the side 30 times” or…you can tell them HOW to lift their leg out to the side 30 times. Which way do you think is better? One way avoids compensatory movement patterns (which can lead to break down and eventually injury) and the other leaves it up to chance. #physicaltherapy #physicaltherapist #biomechanics #glutemed #gluteusmedius #runnertherapy #ptforrunners #DPT #skilledinstruction #pilatesbootcamp #glutes #glutiful #thighwrapawareness #motorcontrol #quadruped

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Straight Leg Lift (Posterior)

Stay down on your left elbow, but wrap your right arm around your back, keeping your chest open. Reach your right leg straight back behind you. Lift the leg up, but stabilize your spine. Slowly lift up and up for one minute. Keep your knee straight, this is super important! Repeat on the other side.

“This is our year.” #Biomechanics are important any time we do spinal stabilization with glute work. We emphasize a straight knee here because even a slight bend can activate the hamstring. Why is that a bad thing? All of a sudden the pelvis is torqued and now we have to work harder to keep the spine in neutral shifting the focus. ✨One arm behind the back (chest open please) for an extra balance challenge and to force the weight bearing hip to work harder🐬. All of this ⬆ builds strength and stability without weights. Oh, and also lifts your butt 🍑🧐 (poor vid quality due to all the steam!) #hawtpilates #mindthemat #physicaltherapist #upcloseandpersonalpilates #naturalmovement #functionalpatterns #openchainclosedchain #openchain #closedchain #hipstability #gluteusmaximus #gluteusmedius #pushit #dptstudent #bizPT #csm2018 #PTfirst #pilateslovers #pilatesbody #bodyweighttraining #motorcontrol #biomechanics

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Curtsy Reach

Keep your knee bent and turned out. Bring your ankles together like a curtsy, then lift the leg up to the back straightening your knee at the very end. Repeat down and up for one minute on each side.

“I hate working out” said two good friends this week. (To see more from “A Very Merry Beyoncé” check stories👆🏼). If this is you too, find something fun and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it does have to bring you joy. If we make exercise fun, it will become part of our lives, an essential part of our day, like brushing teeth or going to work. Become addicted to it (in a healthy way) and you’ll live longer. You’ll be happier. You’ll make deeper connections not only within your own body but with the people around you who are also in it to win it. Or in it just because it’s fun. #beyonce #seniormoment #glutedayeveryday #mtmchallenge #extraordinaryalx #visitdelray @visitdelray #pilatesteacher #pilatesbootcamp #pilatesstudio #yogastudio #happiness #joy #exerciseisfun #tribe #mtmtribe #tribevibe #workouttogether #physicaltherapy #physicaltherapist #ptfirst #getptfirst #fitspo #fitnessisfun #fitness #wellness #yogaeverydamnday #delrayVA #hawtpilates

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Thigh Wrap Combo

This is a great combo. Try one minute for each move, then repeat on the other side.

It’s Thigh Wrap Awareness Month (shout out to expert comedienne @hey_yo_nora of @mindthemat for that one) Try these three moves at home every day for one week. We will be doing them in class. 1) Leg Lift with terminal turn out: Knee to chest then reach your leg straight up behind you turning your pelvis out and straightening your knee at the very end. Keep your spine stable. Do for one minute. 2) Thigh Wrap: Circle your knee down out and around straightening your leg up at the very end…knee down out and around. One minute. Your knee will want to drop towards the floor before your straighten it, fight that! 3) Lateral Shelf: Knee out to the side, lift the knee up first to send it back (no diagonal). Replace the knee up on the fake shelf. One minute. Why the blocks? #thighwrap #thighwrapawareness #extraordinaryalx #motorcontrol #getpt1st #physicatherapist #pilates #hawtpilates #pilatesbootcamp #glutes

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Knee Side – Chest Combo

Also a great combo, try this slowly or speed up for different results. Again, one minute each leg.

Failure. Sound on: “I’m so out of shape.” “No, this is just hard.” ⬆ I hear that all the time. People are leaving class thinking they’ve failed…but they’re actually getting stronger. We have to fail in order to succeed. No, really, I’m not just making a Hallmark quote here, our muscles have to work to failure in order to physiologically strengthen. We “fail” by TRULY connecting with the movement, the form and the speed (i.e. not half-assing it) P. S. We don’t need to use heavy weight to get to failure. We just have to “get to failure”. But that’s a post for a later date. #cometoclass #connection #motorcontrol #physicaltherapy #corework #glutedayeveryday #workyourglutes #rom #extraordinaryalx #physicaltherapist #pilatesmat #pilatesteacher #naturalmovement #transistion #balance #bodyweight #bodyweighttrainning #musclefailure #animalmovement #mindthemat #mtmtribe #tribvibe #musclefailure #ndt #neurodevelopment @visitdelray #visitdelray @wellraydelray @wellandgoodforyou #lululemonlegacyambassador @lululemon #hawtpilates #pilatesbootcamp

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Extra tips

Working your glutes on all fours like this has added benefits. You’ll strengthen your arms and target your deep core muscles without even knowing it, but it helps to think about pulling your abs up to stabilize your spine. If you have wrist pain, make sure your elbows are not locked out. Keep them straight but with a little “softness” to them. This will make the move more difficult because it is utilizing the scapular stabilizers and core more. Squeezing your glutes with your brain, especially at the end range, helps activate more muscle fibers than when not thinking about it. #science

Please let me know if you have any questions and of course, follow me on Instagram @drmeganbrown. You can sign up for my classes here but make sure you do so two weeks in advance as they fill up…and so do the waitlists!

See our full schedule here.


  • The latest from Megan
Megan Brown, physical therapist, Pilates instructor, mother and co-founder of Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga in Alexandria, VA, likes to goof around. Yet her commitment to her students and her skill set in the field is no joke. After graduating from University of Virginia with a degree in Sports Medicine, Megan went on to receive her Masters in Physical Therapy and eventually her Doctorate in the profession. Although Pilates was never part of the plan, the method changed the way she treated patients, positively re-directed her career path and enhanced her own active lifestyle. Customized Pilates instruction is her specialty–she designs classes based on clients needs: athletes, new moms, rehabilitation or just for fun (why be serious all the time?). Pilates + Yoga is the best of both worlds, hence the creation of Mind the Mat studios providing classes for all—in every walk of life.

Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.

Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.     

2214 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301



  1. Avatar Katie Coslov says:

    This is a great article! Question- are all of these safe while pregnant? XO

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