Why You Need to Get your A$$ to Work... Literally

Why You Need to Get your A$$ to Work... Literally

Okay but for real. Did you know the largest muscle group in the human body is in fact the glutes? And that they are working, basically, all the time just to keep you upright? Just because they're the biggest and incredibly important, doesn't mean that they automatically get the job done - in fact, the glutes tend to be one of the most commonly inhibited muscle groups, and because of how important they are, this can start a chain reaction of negative compensations throughout the body. So let's get down to some potential issues that could have their origin story at the rear, and talk about how to get them back to optimal function. 

How is your squat or lunge feeling? Do you tend to feel one or both knees cave in (knee valgus)? Feel like you have tight hamstrings or IT band? Is it difficult to reach that full hip extension at the top of the squat or deadlift? While there are a multitude of issues that could be occurring here, each of these problems can definitely and likely be due to weak or inhibited glutes. 

We are all very quick to assume that a lack of mobility, or sensation of tightness or shortening in a muscle, can and should be corrected with passive stretching and foam rolling. While there certainly is a time and a place for both of these correctives, one often overlooked factor is that mobility is also inhibited by a lack of stability. That is to say, the nervous system will limit our mobility as a protective mechanism when instability is detected. So in the case of tight hamstrings, which could be the result of an unstable pelvis, activating the muscles that provide stability (hint: the gluteus medius is one!) will signal the nervous system to release the excess tension at the adjacent joint, and actually increase mobility. 

Here are a few exercises to help you fire-up those glutes and then some, and keep you moving. 

Side Plank Clamshell Hold - an excellent exercise to help strengthen the obliques, QL, lats, and hip external rotators/abductors.

  1. Place a mini resistance band around the lower thighs just above the knees. Get into a side lying position propped up on the right elbow and bend the knees to 90 degrees with the feet together. Knees should be slightly in front of or in line with the trunk.
  2. Push down through the right elbow and lift the hips while maintaining contact with the floor with the right knee. The spine should be in a straight line.
  3. Lift the left knee up to stretch the band while keeping the feet together, and think about pulling the right elbow towards the hips to activate the lats. 
  4. Hold with as much muscle activation as possible for 10 seconds, then switch sides
  5. Go for 3 sets with 20 seconds rest on each side

Make sure to keep the hips held high, and don't allow the trunk or pelvis to rotate back.

Standing Fire Hydrant with Mini Band - strengthens the glutes through 3 primary functions: abduction, external rotation, and extension of the hip.

  1. Place a mini resistance band around the lower thighs just above the knees, and stand about a foot and a half away from the wall
  2. hinge at the hips and place your fingertips lightly against the wall for balance. Lift the right leg out to the side, back, and externally rotated until you reach your end range of motion in the right hip.
  3. Actively pull the left knee outwards to activate the left glutes
  4. Perform 2 sets per side, resting 30 seconds between each leg
  5. Work up to a 60 second hold per side with a medium resistance mini band, without discomfort in the low back or knee

Make sure the trunk doesn't rotate too much towards the elevated leg; all muscle activation should be felt in the glutes. Maintain complete contact with the floor on the standing foot, grounding down through the big toe. 

Monster Walk - when done properly, provides an intense glute contraction especially on the way back

  1. Place a mini resistance band around the lower thighs just above the knees and perform a hip hinge
  2. Take a small step forward with the right foot, landing with a flat foot. Make sure the left knee doesn't pull inward.
  3. Keep walking forward for 3 steps with each foot, then backward for 3 steps, forward and backward for 2, and then one step forward and backward.
  4. Perform 3 sets of the 3-1 rep sequence, with 30 seconds rest in between
  5. Work up to a 5-1 rep sequence for all 3 sets, and increase the band tension if you need it

Make sure you keep the steps small and try not to let the weight shift too far forward onto the toes.

You can incorporate any of these exercises into your training, bring them into your warm-up routine before strength training on leg days, and see how it feels as you progress! Fire up those glutes and get moving!

At TrAk, we incorporate movements like these and many more that are designed specifically to help you activate the necessary muscles to complement more complex movements, taking the guesswork out of how to get the most bang for your buck and saving you time and energy. Click the link below to stop in and try it out for yourself. 




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