It’s no surprise to our members that we talk about glutes (butt muscles) a lot. “Send your hips back!” “Squeeze your bum!” “Let your glutes catch you!”
Why All This Focus On The Toosh?
Your glutes are comprised of three main muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Each has a purpose for stabilizing and moving your body and weak glutes are an issue for many. Glutes affect not only your physique but also your posture, your mobility, your strength, your power, your balance, and more.
How Do I Know If I Have Wimpy Glutes?
Here are a few signs that indicate weak or dormant glutes.*
- Knee Pain: We are often much stronger in the front of our thighs (quads) than back (hamstrings and glutes). The result of this imbalance usually is discomfort like knee pain. Keeping a balance of strength front-to-back means that purposefully focusing on that backside is critical.
- Faulty Mechanics: We’re sticklers about form while exercising for a reason. Knees shifting forward or collapsing inward, curving the spine as you lower, and not being able to ‘screw your feet into the floor’ when doing an exercise like a squat are signals your glutes are probably not receiving the message from your brain and therefore, aren’t firing properly.
- Lack of Soreness: When you train your legs with squats, lunges, deadlifts, and hinge variations, the glutes should get just as sore as the rest of your lower body, if not more so.
- Weak Ankles and Feet: Do you pronate your feet (roll them inward), or are your feet and ankles weak in general? This is a warning sign that your glutes are weak and disengaged.
- Tight Hip Flexors: Much of this is due to how often and how long we sit down during the day, which tightens the muscles in the front of our hips, in turn, tipping the hip bones forward and turning off the nerve signals to the butt. This is no bueno! Imagine your brain unable to talk to the largest muscle group on your body. When the glutes don’t get the message, the tiny low back muscles start to take over…hence, low back discomfort, a hunched uppper back, and a whole slew of resulting issues.
- Flat Bottom: No butts about it (!), when muscles aren’t used, they shrink. Flat bottoms indicate glutes that haven’t been activated properly and it’s likely that low back or knee pain accompany it. A meaty, round backside is a good thing.
How Do I Get My Glutes More Glute-ier?
Here are a few examples of exercises that will help wake up those posterior muscles and develop strong glutes that work as they should.
1. Hip Hinging: Any motion where you bend at the hips and then stand back up forces the glutes to work. This includes squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, etc.See our previous article on how to squat properly, but in all these movements, keeping the chest high and sending the hips as far back as possible, shifting your weight to your heels (not your knees or toes) helps you get in proper alignment to force the glutes to fire.
2. Single Leg Work: You’ll see many of our clients hanging out on one leg at a time, either just by itself or with some added movement. This forces the feet and ankles at the bottom of the kinetic chain to strengthen, and since everything is connected, also forces the glutes to stabilize and strengthen.
3. Goblet Squats or Plate Squats: Squatting while holding a kettlebell, dumbbell, or plate between your legs keeps the knees from collapsing inward, helping recruit the larger glutes and smaller hip muscles. When doing this, think about screwing your feet into the floor and pushing your knees outward so that the ankles and knees are stacked. Also think about spreading the floor with your feet, especially during lower body movements and standing exercises.4. Squeezing ‘Em: When you stand during an exercise, squeeze your buns. When you are doing a bridge: lay on your back, feet elevated on bench or knees bent with feet on ground, lift your hips and squeeze your glutes (not your low back). When doing a lunge, squeeze your back cheek. All these exercises should incorporate glute work when you consciously think about the glutes working and contracting them by squeezing.
|To strong and functional derrieres!
*Source reference: T-nation.com