How to Tell if You Have a Glute Imbalance

You suspect that you have a glute imbalance.

Maybe your right glute fires harder than the left. Maybe you can perform a perfect single-leg squat on your left side, but not on your right.

All you know is that one glute feels stronger than the other…

So how do you know for sure whether or not you have a glute imbalance?

By paying attention to how your body feels during certain movements.

Let me explain.

Your Everyday Life

What does it feel like when you walk?

When you run?

When you bend-over?

Can you only feel one glute working?

If so, what does the other glute feel like when you try to activate it? Does it feel absent, limp, and dormant? Are the surrounding muscles working hard to compensate for it?

If so, then you probably have a glute imbalance.

Before my treatment, I was dealing with a serious glute imbalance.

Whenever I was walking, running or bending over, I would only feel my right glute working, not my left.

For example, I would be walking, and my right glute would be activating with every right step. But with every left step, I could only feel my left hip working, not my left glute! This drove me crazy for the longest time. I felt like I was using my left hip and my right glute to walk, when most of the force should’ve been coming from both glutes!

So ask yourself, do you have the following symptoms?

  • One glute feels lazy and inactive
  • The surrounding muscles on that side are overactive
  • The opposite glute feels overactive

If so, then you probably have a glute imbalance.

But, if you’re still not 100% sure (or you’re currently in denial), then there are some exercises that you can perform to further test your body.

Exercises

Your glutes act as a solid base of support for your body. So with any lower-body movement, the power should be originating from your butt.

What happens when you attempt these exercises with a glute imbalance? Your weak glute doesn’t activate, and the surrounding muscles have to activate instead.

This is why most glute activation exercises are USELESS: how are you supposed to strengthen a muscle that you can hardly feel?

A topic best saved for another day. In the meantime, I will discuss the muscles that are actually incorrectly worked when someone with a glute imbalance performs glute isolation exercises on their weak side.

Butt squeezes

Muscles incorrectly worked: hips and hamstrings

Try to isolate your weak butt by squeezing it in a standing position. Do your hips and hamstrings work to help the glute squeeze? If so, this means the glute on that side is weak and tight.

Squat

Muscles incorrectly worked: the strong glute

Perform a basic squat. What do you feel?

Do you feel one glute doing the brute of the work?

Do you lean more towards one side as you go down?

Take a look at me squatting with a glute imbalance. I am leaning more towards the right as I descend, and I can only feel my right glute as I ascend, meaning that my right glute is overpowering the left:

Add weight to the exercise, and the discrepancy increases even more:

Single-leg squat

Muscles incorrectly worked: hips and hamstrings

Doing a single-leg squat on your weak side should be extremely difficult. If you are shaking on the way down, and extending through your hips on the way up, then your glutes are probably not activating much.

Single-leg glute bridge

Muscles incorrectly worked: hamstrings

Squeeze your butt and try to lift off from the ground. Hamstrings immediately start to take over? Yep. That’s not a good sign.

Side-lying abductions (wall leg raises) & clamshells

Muscles incorrectly worked: IT band

If your IT band (the outer side of your leg) is working to move your leg during these exercises, then you’ll know that it was taking over for the glute. Do too many abductions and clamshells, and you may even start to experience pain running down the side of your leg.

Conclusion

If you have a glute imbalance, and you try doing these exercises on your ‘good’ side, you’ll find that you can get pretty good glute activation. However, switch to your ‘bad’ side, and it will feel completely wrong.

Don’t worry though! Not all is lost! Take a look at my stretches to see how you can fix your glute imbalance and increase activation.

 

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