Glutes, booty, backside, gluteus maximus/medius/minimus, bum, junk in the trunk, keister... no matter what you call it, gluteal strength and activation is essential for much more than just filling out those bloomers and turning a shiver into a twerk.
Before we get into the nuts & bolts of the problem, let’s get you familiar with the wagon that you wanna be draggin’.
Your backside is made up of three main muscles:
· The big dawg, the show pony... The Gluteus Maximus. This is the biggest of the three and is the prime mover of the gluteal group, in charge of extending the hip. It is the glut max that provides the all important shape and size. Unfortunately, this is where most people lack.
· The middle-man. The Gluteus Medius. This is the middle of three, complex and important. It is largely responsible for stabilising the pelvis through movement.
· Mini-me. The Gluteus Minimus. Small but mighty when it comes to hip and pelvic stability and should definitely not be overlooked.
Look at the person to your left. Now look to the person on your right. If you’re alone then Google the word “human”. You see those people? Unless you live in a third world or developing country, you can almost guarantee they are suffering gluteal de-conditioning. Everyday conveniences such as driving, remote controls and chairs are reducing the amount we use our glutes, causing them to become weaker and less efficient when we actually do need them. Think about how it feels to squeeze something (clench your fist...) as soon as you wake up. Your arms and hands are weak, tired and shaky. Essentially, this is what happens to your glutes over a longer period of time. The less you use them, the sleepier they get and every time you try to fire them to complete a basic movement – like walking up stairs, other muscles (often lower back) have to take over and complete most of the work. This is occurring in people of all shapes and sizes, from couch potatoes to elite athletes (who don’t follow appropriate strength & conditioning programs).
So what, why does this even matter...?
The glutes are responsible for hip extension (imagine a donkey kick), sideways movements and stabilising the pelvis and lower back through all movement patterns - all important factors in daily activities… walking, getting out of the car, jumping, running, climbing, picking up items, carrying the kids, etc.
Apart from avoiding chronic MCBS (Miley Cyrus Bum Syndrome), strong and efficient glutes can also:
· Reduce and alleviate chronic back pain
· Reduce and alleviate knee and ankle pain
· Support and improve posture
· Improve efficiency and reduce impact shock when running
· Improve athletic performance (speed, agility, power, strength, etc)
· Help you look good in your Reg Grundies
“WOW!” I hear you say... “How do I build this derriere extraordinaire?!?”
...actually, it’s quite easy.
Of course, building a nice firm toosh to fill out your Calvin Kleins will only happen with CONSISTENT WEIGHT training (sorry, going for a run won’t work). However to begin with, including some activation work in your warm up is a super place to start. Whether it is before a squatting session in the gym, an upper body weights session, a run or just a stretch... 5 minutes of activation 3-4 times per week will do you the world of good. The more you get your bum firing (the muscles that is...), the faster you will progress and the less you will have to do. Bang any of these into a google search and you will get 963,000 (give or take 376,000) videos on how to complete them:
· Supine Glut Bridge
o Advanced: single leg hip raise
· Prone bird-dog/alternate arm-leg raise
· Single-leg squat to bench/single leg balance & reach
· Squat hold crab walk or X-Band Walk
NB: This is just a small selection of MANY hip activation exercises.
Without efficiently firing glutes, you will continue to have the issues outlined above, and your health and fitness program will be far less effective. You can squat, lunge, jump all you want, but without properly firing glutes you will never progress towards your goals as quickly as you should. Take the time to include some activation – it’s worth it.
The next blog installation will look at building and strengthening those really deep stabiliser muscles in your glutes, core and lower back through the tonic/phasic methods of training. “What on earth is tonic/phasic training?!?!!?” I hear you say… well, you will just have to wait for the next blog!
Until next time... Keep workin’ that booty ;)
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