Charlie Weingroff, one of my favorite resources for information, has made popular the idea of "getting into the toes" for enhanced glute activation. Here is a great article by Charlie explaining this idea: "Getting Into Your Toes." I have found implementing this idea into my coaching has improved my clients' exercise performance and technique.
Many of the exercises I coach at IFAST involve improving lumbo-pelvic alignment and stability. As many of you have heard, control of the pelvis in the sagittal plane is a tug-of-war between the muscles that pull us into an anterior pelvic tilt and the muscles that pull us into a posterior pelvic tilt. In many people, the muscles that cause anterior pelvic tilt are winning the tug-of-war resulting in a forwardly tipped pelvis. For these people, it is important to cue "glutes tight" because the glutes are one of the strongest muscles that aid in posterior tilt. Therefore, a good glute contraction will help improve the lumbo-pelvic positioning.
As explained in Charlie's article, extending the toes and digging them into the ground (I like to use the cue "tuck the toes under") facilitates better hip extension and, therefore, less anterior tilt. To improve a person's ability to do this try using the cue, "tuck your toes under."
Below, I demonstrate a few of the positions/exercises that this cue has worked greatly with (split stance, half kneeling, and push-ups). Sometimes, the change is subtle (going from the balls of the feet all the way onto the toes) but can make a big difference. There are many other positions/exercises that can benefit from this cue, but I believe these will give you the idea.
Over time, tucking the toes will also help improve big toe mobility, which is another benefit of implementing this strategy. Big toe extension has been shown to be very important for proper glute function.
Go give this a shot, and let me know if you see an improvement in lumbo-pelvic control and alignment.
Have a great week everyone!!