So muscle activation and what exactly is it? It’s pretty simple. You’re activating muscles by doing certain, specific exercises for certain, specific muscle groups.

So now there’s things you need to know about muscle activation.

First, you want to make sure that you do them pre-workout. So that means you’re going to do a normal, dynamic warm-up and then you’re going to intentionally warm-up the muscle groups that you’re about to train.

So for instance if you’re going to do a chest workout, you want to make sure that you’re doing chest activation exercises to properly activate the chest muscles to prepare you for the movement.

So when you’re going through these activation exercises, again, so slow and controlled. Maybe do everything two times; 10 to 15 reps.

Now if you’re going for holds, five to 10 seconds per hold, really activating and concentrating on the squeezing of that muscle being used.

Now, you can also use things like resistance bands. You can use walls, you can use weights to help activate the muscles being used.

Now, before we go any further, just make sure, again, you’ve got to take your time with these and I guarantee if you do these properly you’re going to do better lifts, you’re going to be stronger and you’re going to excel a lot faster than you would if you didn’t warm-up properly.

So let’s start from the head to toe.

We’re going to work from the brain first and then work down to the lower body.

Brain Activation Exercises

There’s three things that you need to know about brain activation exercises.

One, they work your brain. But two, they actually help improve your fitness and also your wellness and also maybe your work or your attitude.

The top three brain activation exercises are simple.

One is doing word games, Sudoku, crossword puzzles, things that will challenge your mind and challenge your thought process: card games, online games that have to do with numbers and colors and things like that.

The second one is to change-up your routine, just like you would in a workout. Your body will adapt to a certain routine and plateau.

The same thing will happen outside of your workout. If you go through the same motions day in and day out, your brain is not being stimulated enough to actually start improving your mental capacity.

So change-up the way you go to work, change-up how you go to sleep at night, do something out of the ordinary, out of your comfort zone to really wake-up your brain and use your true potential.

The last one, the last of the brain activation exercises is intermittent fasting.

Take a break from a meal, skip a meal, but be intentional about it because what happens is, one, you’re going to be hungry, but two, your brain is going to associate that with starvation and a lot of cool things will start happening within the body from the effect of that fasting period.

So when you intermittent fast it could be 12 hours, it could be 16, 24 hours, you decide that and go to your level of comfort. But again, be intentional with these three exercises and your brain will start firing and you’ll be amazed at the improvements you’ll see in your mental game.

Chest and Back Activation Exercises

So we just covered the brain, now we’re going to go to the chest, and here are the top three chest activation exercises that you need to do to really hit those pec muscles, to fire those muscles properly when you’re doing your chest workout.

All right, so we just covered the chest.

Now we’re going to work on the back. So these are the top three lat activation exercises that you need to do, again, to wake-up your lat muscles before you start work.

The first one being a wall press back, the second one being an isometric straight arm resistance band pull and the last, but definitely not least, is what I call an armless superman hold.

Again, these three exercises are going to wake-up those lats and prepare them for battle.

So here’s the wall press back. It doesn’t look like I’m doing anything, but what I’m doing is pushing my hands against the wall, trying to push the wall away from my body.

Core Activation Exercises

So we just covered the chest, we just covered the back, now we’re going to go to the midsection or your core and we’re also going to be activating your TVA, your obliques, your rectus abdominis, everything in the midsection, you’re going to be activating through these three moves.

The first exercise might be a yoga move, but whatever you want to call it, it’s a cat/cow stretch. I love this exercise because it really opens up your core, your diaphragm and also your spine.

The second one being bird/dog. So this is going to be on all fours, quadruped position.

And the last, but not least, core activation exercise is a hollow rock.

These are the three exercises that you need to do to wake up the core and also wake up all the surrounding muscles within that core.

Hips and Glutes Activation Exercises

So now let’s move away from the core and the midsection.

We’re going to go into the hips and the glutes area.

These are the top five exercises, because they’re kind of intertwined, so we’re going to throw in a couple extra for you, the top five hip and glute activation exercises.

The first one, the first exercise you’re going to be using a resistance band. We’re going to be doing some band walks. That’s going to be your first exercise.

The second exercise is a glute bridge using a foam roller and we actually squeeze in, applying inward pressure on that foam roller.

The third exercise is a glute bridge to a knee pull.

So number four is going to be your donkey kick and coming in fifth is your clam shell going back to using this resistance band. So there we have it. These are the five hip and glute activation exercises. So here they are.

So there you go. You just get warmed up and activated your glutes and hips and now we’re going to be going and talking about the VMO.

So the VMO is one of those muscles that’s not normally woken-up through a normal dynamic movement. This is a very important muscle that you have to use properly in order to get the most out of your lower body work.

So if you’re not familiar with what the VMO is, it’s the vastus medialis oblique. So this is on the—think of your quad or your thigh, it’s on the inside of your leg, closest to the knee.

So if you look down it’s kind of like that teardrop shape in that lower quadricep. This is a muscle, like I said, that’s very inhibited. It’s very restricted because it’s not activated or used a lot throughout the day.

So I have two exercises to show you on how to properly activate your VMO. So the first exercise to activate your VMO is the single leg star reach or star drill. The second one is a band activated squat. So again, these two exercises are great to activate your VMO.

So I know that was a whole bunch of information on muscle activation, on how to warm-up and activate muscles ready for movement. So the main thing is you’ve got to activate your muscles if you really care about improving your performance. Also, it helps reduced the change of injury.

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Burn Fat Faster with THIS 15-Minute Muscle Activation Routine


By Brian Klepacki, MS, CSCS, FMS, CISSN