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5 Exercises to Build Strong Glutes for Speed

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

Before each training session, and indeed any game, you need to be making sure your glutes are ready to work. If not, you are setting yourself up for potential injury, and limiting your on-field performance.


To build explosive speed on the rugby field, we first look at the sprint mechanics of the athlete.  This normally starts off with the foot technique and perhaps the stance, amongst other things.

It’s easy to forget that real power comes from father up the kinetic chain with the really essential muscles for speed strength.  Do you know what they are?

Yes, you've got it - the Glutes.... and...

The real powerhouse of your body when it comes to sprinting is your glutes, along with their neighbours -  the hamstrings and your hips.

So it makes sense, that when any or all of those muscles lack strength, other areas will be forced to compensate, which can lead to injuries.

In fact, extensive research has proven that injuries like ‘runners knee’ or ‘shin splints’, even common lower back pain can be traced back to deficiencies in the hips and glutes.   As a speed coach, I try to focus on these muscles a lot to ensure my rugby players are at peak performance, and at less risk of injury.

So, in all my speed training sessions, I make sure to teach the following, and encourage you to take action on the following as well:

1. Activate glutes, hamstrings and hips before each and every training session

2. Activate glutes, hamstrings and hips before each game (during your warm up phase)

3. Take time to work on strengthening these muscles as part of normal rugby training

Here are 5 exercises you can easily incorporate into your training sessions, 2-3 times per week to help strengthen your glutes.  Let me know how you go by sending me an Email.


Complete 10–15 reps of each exercise for 2–3 total sets, 2-3 times per week.

1.  BODY WEIGHT SQUATS Stand with your arms extended in front of your body and your feet a little wider than shoulder width with your toes angled somewhat outward. Lower your backside down toward the ground as if you were going to sit. Lower until your quads are parallel with the ground, then stand back up and repeat.


2.  DONKEY KICKS Get on the ground on all fours with your hands and knees shoulder-width apart.  Lift your right knee off the ground as you kick your foot upward so your thigh is in line with your back and the bottom of your foot is facing skyward. You should feel your core, especially your glutes, engaging during this motion. Bring your leg back down, repeat and switch legs.

3.  PISTOL SQUATS Stand with your arms extended in front of your body and your feet a little wider than shoulder width. Pick your right foot up off the ground, and extend that leg straight out in front of your body. Squat down as far as you can while balancing on the left leg, keeping that knee and foot aligned. Bring your body back up, repeat and switch legs.

4.  SIDE PLANK LEG LIFT Lie on your right side with your legs straight and stacked on top of each other. You can rest your head on top of your right arm, and put your left hand on your hip or on the ground to help balance your body. Lift the top leg straight up as far as is comfortable, then lower back down. Repeat and switch sides.


5.  GLUTE BRIDGES Lie on your back on the ground with your arms at your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your backside off the ground until you form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Push your heels into the ground, and feel your glutes stabilising your body. Hold for two seconds, lower your body back down and repeat. VARIATION – try Single Leg Bridge Lift with Tennis Ball


So there you go, incorporate these 5 exercises into your training sessions, even if you are in a different sport to rugby and you are sure to help minimise the risk of injury, and for my rugby players out there, ensure you are working to improve your on-field performance.

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