GLUTES

By | November 24, 2019


The gluteal region of the body is made up of several muscles that help stabilize and move the pelvis around. A few standout muscles are the glute medius and the glute minimus. These muscles have an important role in stabilizing the pelvis during movement as well as during single leg exercise. If you are standing and raise your leg, the opposite glute medius and minimus will contract to prevent the pelvis from dropping on that side. The primary actions of these two muscles is to assist in hip abduction and medial rotation of the lower limb. During movement, it prevents pelvic drop of the opposite limb.
Often times we overlook these muscles in our training programs, and over time, this can lead to pelvic instability and even low back and knee pain. A 2016 study tested the tensor fascia lata, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus of over 150 subjects with chronic low back pain. They found that the gluteus medius was weaker in people that had chronic low back pain. Another study, which looked at over 800 novice runners, concluded that runners who lack hip abduction strength were at a higher risk for knee pain. Aside from low back and knee pain, there are some other signs that the glutes may be weak or “turned off”. Poor mechanics in squat, hinge and lunges patterns, more specifically knees caving in, may indicate weak glutes. Some other signs may include a lack of soreness in the glutes when the aforementioned movements are trained.
As you can see from the research, strengthening your glute muscles, particularly your gluteus medius, is very important as a preventative measure for possible chronic issues down the road. As an athlete, having weak glutes can be detrimental to stability, mobility, power and strength.
Here are a few glute activation and strengthening exercises you can do on your own.
  1. Supine Glute Bridge with Band Resistance
  2. Sidelying Clamshell with Band Resistance (External Rotation)
  3. Sidelying Clamshell with Band Resistance (Internal Rotation)
  4. Single Leg RDL with Contralateral Reach
  5. Pull-Through
*Depending on your fitness level, you can use this as its own workout. I would work through each exercise performing 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions of each. If you are a little more advanced with your fitness, I would include these exercises into your warm up prior to any lower body work days. Perform 1 set of each exercise for 10 repetitions each as an activation drill prior to your lower body work (specifically squatting or deadlifting). 


1.      Supine Glute Bridge with Band Resistance

  • Begin by placing a band around your legs (just above the knee) and lay on your back with bent knees and your feet pressed firmly into the floor.
  • To begin, start with a deep inhale through your nose (a deep belly breathe is ideal).
  • While exhaling slowly yet forcefully, squeeze your glutes and extend your hips upward.
  • Hold at the top position for 2-3 seconds before relaxing and returning to the start position.

Tip: Proper breathing is a key component on this exercise, especially for those with excessive low back curvature. The forceful exhale will help to brace the core muscles which in turn will prevent excessive extension of the lower back.

2.      Sidelying Clam Shell with Band Resistance (External Rotation)

  

  • Begin by placing a band around your legs (just above the knee) and lying on your side with your legs/feet stacked on top of each other and your knees and hips slightly flexed (You are looking to achieve a neutral flat back).
  • Keeping your feet together, externally rotate your hip while turning your torso down slightly.
  • Squeeze at the top and return to the start position is a controlled fashion.

Tip: You really want to focus on isolating the glute in this exercise. Try only to rotate at your hip and not at your lower back as well.

3.      Sidelying Clam Shell with Band Resistance (Internal Rotation)

  • Begin by placing a band around your ankles and lying on your side with your legs/feet stacked on top of each other and your knees and hips slightly flexed (You are looking to achieve a neutral flat back).
  • Keeping your knees together, internally rotate your hip by lifting your foot upward.
  • Squeeze at the top and return to the start position is a controlled fashion.

Tip: Work hard to lower back to the starting position with as much control as possible.

4.      Single Leg RDL with Contralateral Arm Reach

  • Begin by standing next to a wall in a normal upright standing position.
  • With a soft bend in the knee, slowly begin to reach your hip back (hip hinge) on the leg closest to the wall while simultaneously reaching the opposite arm forward and opposite leg straight back.
  • Once you have achieved an optimal hinge, engage your glutes and return to the start position.

Tip: Do your best to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. Be mindful to push your leg straight back. You do not want to rotate at the hip during the movement.
5.      Pull-Through

  • Attach a rope to a cable machine.
  • Begin by stepping over the cable (back to the weight stacks) while grasping the rope with both hands resting on your groin. Feet should be between hip and shoulder width apart. Soft bend in your knees.
  • While inhaling, allow the weight to pull you into a hip hinge. Maintain a neutral spine.
  • Once you have reached your optimal hinge position, squeeze your glutes and extend your hips forward back to the start while forcefully exhaling.

Tip: Do your best to hinge and not squat during this exercise. Your shins should remain as vertical as possible during the movement. Keep your weight centered through your whole foot rather than shifting from heel to toe during the movement.
Blog post by Greg Wilson.

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