You know that song, “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor? That keeps running through my head as I write this. That’s because your glutes are seriously one of the most important muscle groups in your body. Hey….if J.Lo can insure her gluteus maximus, it must be worth your while to understand why strengthening your glutes never fails.
We have 3 gluteal muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. As you can guess by their names, they range in size. The gluteus medius and minimus are deeper than the maximus and more on the side of your hip.
You probably don’t think about the glutes as muscles involved in posture. However, they play a huge role in pelvis alignment. When your pelvis is tipped forward in anterior pelvic tilt, your gluteus maximus gets stretched. Any muscle resting in an over-lengthened position is going to be weak. Everyone wants a nice, shapely butt, BUT we sit so much that the gluteus maximus is often underactive. When you combine poor alignment with sitting, it’s really important to wake up your glutes.
Here are some exercises to activate them!
Scorpions pull double duty: they activate your glutes and mobilize your thoracic spine. Although they look easy, it’s incredibly important to focus on using your glutes to lift your leg. It’s all too easy to cheat and use your lower back. So dial up some brain power and pick up your entire leg using your gluteus maximus. It does not matter how high you lift your leg. Keep your shoulders on the ground as you rotate your spine.
Leg Extension with Tubing
You could consider this exercise a Bird Dog with Resistance. It also requires an engaged core while you do it. Concentrate on pressing out through your heel using your glutes.
I talked about the bridge exercise in this post about why your jeans don’t fit right. It’s one of my favorite exercises to give clients. It’s appropriate for everyone and a great starting point for learning how to switch on your butt. I also advocate bridges for post partum moms. Here’s the link to that article. Bridges are often done incorrectly by using the lower back to force your hips up. Like the scorpions, height does not matter with this exercise.
Hip Thrusts are a progression from the bridge since it takes away the stability of lying on the floor and adds more body weight to move. The key with hip thrusts is to squeeze your glutes tight throughout the movement. And make sure your neck stays in alignment with the rest of your spine. So you’ll look forward as your hips drop and look up as your hips raise. There should always be space between your chin and chest.
RDL stands for Romanian Deadlifts. RDLs are an advanced exercise and take some time to master due to the movement. Your butt travels backward and forward rather than up and down like in a squat. And you really have to use your glutes to pull your hips forward.
You can stress out your lower back by trying to use it to lift your body instead of your glutes. If you’re ready for this progression, a good way to learn the movement is to go very light on the weight and stand close to a wall with your back facing the wall. Push your butt back until it touches the wall, then squeeze your glutes and bring your hips forward. It may help to think of that toy stork that dips it’s beak in water and pops back up.
I like to include the scorpions in my clients warmups. Then they usually get around 3 sets of one of the above exercises. Yes, squats and lunges will work your glutes too. And I include those as well. But because squats and lunges also recruit the quadriceps, I like to dedicate some exercises to training the glutes. I said they were important, right? 🙂