Any guesses what it is?!
Your GLUTES, baby.
I feel like it’s easy for us to think that we train our glutes a lot, especially if we’re into the fitness game and like to squat and deadlift.
But here’s the thing: squatting is not enough.
Strong glutes are insanely important for function: they help to support our hips, knees, back, and pelvic floor, and are responsible for abduction, rotation and hip extension. They’re also notoriously weak. Whenever I do fitness assessments, I can almost immediately guess that a client is going to have weak glutes. They’re a larger muscle group, but it’s easy for us to depend on supporting structures and let these guys get away with a bit of slacking.
Some benefits from training your glutes (besides that fact that your booty will look pretty fab):
– It can help to improve posture and alignment. When our glutes are weak, this can tilt our hips (tight hip flexors, weak glutes and lower back). It creates a domino effect throughout the entire body, and can lead to a belly that pushes out, an an unnatural arch in our back. (If you need help with posture and alignment, I highly recommend Katy Bowman’s work and this book.)
– It can help with fitness performance. Glutes that properly activate can help us to work harder, faster, and longer. Think faster run times, stronger endurance performance, higher jumps, etc.
– It can help with injury prevention. If you’re active, getting injured is one of the worst things that can happen. Strong glutes can help to support our knees, hips, back, and pelvic floor, which means that we’re less likely to depend on supporting muscle groups to lead the way. Muscle compensation can lead to altered movement patterns, overuse injuries, and pain.
If you turn the focus to isolating your glutes on a regular basis, you may be surprised to see that knees, back, or hips might not hurt as much. (Worth mentioning here that if you’re experiencing an injury or any type of muscular pain, get thee to a Physical Therapist ASAP, mmm k?)
Here are some of my favorite exercises to target and strengthen your glutes. The best part is that you can do these ANYWHERE, and if they get to the point where they start to feel easy, you can add some resistance through a loop. I got this cute one at Target (the Tone It Up girls are rocking the branding and product line). The resistance band loops also make excellent travel companions. Toss one in your suitcase and you can do some glute strengthening and barre exercises on the go. All of the exercises below can be made more challenging with a loop.
1) Standing hip extension: From standing, step one foot back and gently tap it on the floor. Keep both hips facing forward, and bring your hands to your hips or to a wall or chair for extra balance. Engage your glutes to lift your leg off the floor, as high as it will go. Gently tap back down, and lift. You’ll do 20 of these before holding the highest point and completing 20 pulses at the top.
2) Clamshells: Start on your side and rest on your elbow, or all the way onto the floor. Keep your knees bent, and squeeze your glutes to open your knees. Lower down with control, then exhale to open as far as you possibly can.
3) Side to side squat walks: Come into a squat position with your booty back, chest lifted and core tight. Keep your hips low as you step out to the side, and then step back together into your squat. Continue to squat walk 5 to the right, 5 to the left, for 1 minute total.
4) Side lying leg raises: Start on your side and rest on your elbow, or all the way onto the floor. Extend your legs, keeping the top foot flexed and the toes pointed forward. Raise your top leg, pressing out through your heel and making sure that your hips don’t rock from side to side. Lower down with control and repeat. Try for 40 on each side, or keep going until you feel a nice burn.
5) Hip thrust: Start on your back, with knees bent and feet pressing into the floor. Press your hips up towards the ceiling (stop when your hips are in line with your torso), and lower down with control. For these ones, it feels easy to load on weight at the gym but sometimes lose the connection with our glutes. Instead, try these with bodyweight or a band loop first and exhale at the top, really squeezing your glutes and engaging your core.
So real talk: how often do you strength train your glutes? Are these any muscle groups you feel are neglected?
Hope you have a wonderful day and I’ll see ya later!