Move of the Week: Standing Glute Stretch

February 8, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Breathe deeply as you open your hips while focusing on staying steady on your foot. (Jocelyn Bong)

There are usually a few different ways to achieve the same outcome, and it’s up to each individual to find which way works best. This principle is paramount in health and fitness, and as one develops a heightened sense of body awareness, it will get easier to make the best choices for one’s body.

To make the movement more about balance, practice this stretch without touching the floor or ledge.

• Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
• Cross your right foot over your left knee. 
• Slowly bend down toward the floor until your fingertips are touching the ground. If your flexibility is limited, lean on something higher than the floor—a box, bench, or counter.
• You should feel a deep stretch in the right leg. 
• Keep your supporting leg (the left leg) relaxed, with the knee bent. 
• Allow your hips to sink down toward the ground to enhance the stretch.
• Hold the position for a minimum of 30 seconds on each side while breathing deeply. 
• Repeat at least twice.

I always find it interesting that when showing a group of people the same stretch, some people will be in agony from the stretch, while others will wonder what they are meant to be feeling. Due to each person’s body awareness, tightness, and weakness, it will usually take different methods to achieve a similar outcome.

This stretch is a variation on some basic glute stretches. They are usually done sitting or standing and involve crossing one ankle over the opposite knee to open up the glute and external hip complex.

The standing glute stretch is great for opening the glute and hip area and has the added bonus of incorporating balance into the stretch. Balance is an important element that gets left out of many general fitness routines.

To make the movement more about balance, practice this stretch without touching the floor or ledge.

If you keep your breath flowing, it will help your tendons and muscles relax into the stretch and open up more deeply. When exercising more vigorously, breathing will help support your body. While stretching, the breath plays the role of relaxing the body.

This is a brilliant stretch if you suffer from tight glutes and hips, and in my experience, that is true for a lot of us. Incorporate this into your routine by performing it during your rest periods between sets.

Emma-Kate Stampton is a personal trainer and Pilates teacher. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.

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