Does your job have you sitting on your rear most of the day? If so, chances are you have some muscle imbalances – most likely in your core and hips. I’ve addressed the core in past articles and its importance in overall wellness, but I’d like to build on that with a discussion about the glutes.
The glutes are key components in both hip stability and mobility. They work alongside many other muscles of the midsection to keep you moving efficiently. If the glutes are weak or not working at all, it could be compromising the surrounding muscles of the low back, hamstings, hip flexors, and abdominals – which can lead to systemic mobility issues.
We always preach the importance of multi-joint movements such as squats and deadlifts, but if you can’t recruit your glutes on these movements, you may end up with back issues or a strained muscle. You definitely won’t be able to progress as much as you’d like if your weak glutes are always holding you back.
Try the following exercises to build a strong glute foundation.
The Glute Bridge. Lie on your back with your knees bent about 90 degrees. Pull your toes off the floor so only your heels are touching and rotate your toes outward slightly. Raise your hips as high as you can without over-arching your back. As your hips rise, focus on squeezing your glutes together long enough for a strong contraction. If you feel your hamstrings more than your glutes, slide your heels closer to your hips and rotate your toes outward a bit more. Repeat for 10-20 reps.
Lateral Band Step. While holding a resistance band, step on it so it’s anchored down in the middle part of your foot. Cross the band over and pull up and back to create some tension on the band. Begin with feet hip width apart and strive to always keep tension on the band. While keeping your feet parallel to each other, step laterally to a shoulder width position. Keep your knees slightly bent and your hips back as you step. Maintain constant control and be sure to minimize any side to side tilting as you step. Never lead with your toes, but rather the lateral edge of your foot. Step back and forth in a controlled manner for 10-20 reps.
The Bird Dog. Begin on your hands and knees with arms straight and knees bent 90 degrees. Engage your core and stabilize your hips so your low back maintains a natural curve. Simultaneously raise your right arm and your left leg. Extend your fingertips forward as you point your toes back. Think of squeezing your glute on the elevated leg without over-arching your back. At the same time engage your shoulder blade on the elevated arm. Hold for a strong squeeze and then repeat for 10-20 reps per side.
So perform any or all of these exercises as a means to improve your glute strength and recruitment capabilities. Couple these with multi-joint movements such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges as you progress to get the greatest overall results.