What's your glutes some may ask??
It's the shortened 'cool' word for gluteal muscles which is the group of muscles in and around your bum and outside hips.
Why are these so important you may ask?
For one, they look good, or help make us look good. But they also play a hugely important role in stabilizing the pelvis from all angles, are an important muscle used in supporting the 'core' and we use them to squat, stand, rotate the truck, sit on, change direction, sprint, run and to bend forward from the hips (hip hinge). They're also a great calorie burner because of all these things and because of the share muscle mass or size.
However, because our lifestyles involve us sitting a lot and being less active in work and play these days, they have become increasingly lazy, whilst our opposing muscles, the hip flexors become tighter and/or shorter further inhibiting out Glute function.
There is more and more literature coming out indicating their importance in ALL things physical and functional and our required attention or focus to turn them on and use them more.
Through personal experience and observation of the many people I have coached or trained for running or running related sports, it is hugely apparent the role the glutes play in minimizing the risk of injuries or the high number of injuries due to lazy glutes or because they have become lazy and weak themselves through other injuried sites or weaknesses.
Below is a series of little exercises we can all do to activate and eventually add strength and tone to our glutes. By activation, I mean a concentrated effort to make the mind to Glute muscle connection stronger and 'turn them on' through your awareness and repeated practice concentrating on using them. Sometimes it helps to place a hand on the muscle/s you are trying to activate so feel free to do this whilst practicing these exercises. Over time themselves the glutes should fire quicker and easier, and/or you start to notice them working harder during other exercise movements such as squats or lunges or running.
They will take you approximately 8-10minutes to do these and due to the low loading and stress, they can be done daily.
Repeat on each leg 1-2 sets of 15-30 reps of each exercise. Begin at the low end of the rep range on day 1 and add a few reps each day or time you do them until you get to around 30.
See pictures for start and end positions of the exercises.
Side lying leg raises. Maintain the leg and torso alignment whilst raising the leg vertically straight up and down using the outside hip muscles, (aka-gluteus medius).
Bird-Dog (kneeling alternating superman). With a bent knee at 90deg raise one foot towards the ceiling, whilst tightening the abdominals to prevent arching the lower back excessively. Concentrate on only using the big main Glute.
Side lying Clams. Note that the pelvis does not move, only the leg moves from the stabilized hips.
Glute bridge, start using two legs. Over time as it gets easier you can progress this exercise very easily. Progression 1 from this position, is holding this hip position and alternating lifting each foot off the ground without losing hip height and stability. Progression 2 is completing the entire exercise on one leg only.
Some toning and muscular change can be expected from these over a period of weeks if you have never done them before or you do a few sets of each regularly enough. However, after a period of time as your body learns to use your glutes more naturally, you'll need to progress to more challenging exercises to further develop your glutes in size (up or down), shape, strength and function. Then these exercises can become simple warm up activation exercises.
So I dare you to begin doing them today, as change tomorrow begins with effort today.
Happy bridging, coach Nige