Glute exercises are what everyone is crying out for. The gluteus maximus or glutes for short is the bum muscle. It is also the biggest muscle in the body. Everyone wants a ‘toned’ bum but not many people know really how to work the glues.
For most people the glutes are quite an inactive muscle that doesn’t contract and do its job as it should. This is explained below…
We spend so long sat down that our hip flexors (front of hips) become tight and facilitated. Due to reciprocal inhibition, our glutes lose power because of the tight hip flexors. Also because of the amount of time sat down our glutes become long and inhibited. When this happens other muscles (hamstrings, lower back) become synergistic dominant and take over movements like that squat and lunge. So now your glutes are not getting the exercise they need. This can lead to:
– An anterior tilt of the pelvis (and pelvis instability) and bad posture.
_ A soft, ‘saggy’ bum.
– Injury to the back.
– Injury to hamstrings.
– Knee problems especially for runners.
One very simple way to work the glutes and bring them back into the shape and strength that they should be is to:
1. Stretch the hip flexors to inhibit them and send more power to the glutes.
2. Choose an isolation exercise from the list below.
3. Choose a functional glute exercise from the list below to integrate the glutes into a functional movement.
Glute Isolation Exercises
Side lying leg lift (froggies or clams).
For this exercise you must lie on your side with your back flat against the wall. Have you knees bent at 90 degrees and the souls of your feet flat against the wall. Make sure your shoulders and hips are completely flat against the wall.
Keeping your feet together, raise your top leg so that the knee comes as close to the wall as possible (like a clam opening).
Perform 5 sets of 10 seconds holding it at the highest point. Then without any rest perform 20 single full range reps.
To progress this exercise have someone add small amounts of resistance against your knee.
Single leg bridge.
Lie on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. Then push your lower back into the floor and raise your bum off the ground as high as you can. Make sure you are always pushing your lower back towards the floor by contracting your abs.
Then when you are at the top position, straighten one leg out and hold it there for 10 seconds. Build up to 5 sets of 10 seconds.
When you have completed the static 10 second holds move on to full range reps with your non working leg straight throughout the set. Make sure you are always squeezing your abs and pulling your lower back down towards the floor.
For this exercise position yourself lying over a Swiss ball with your elbows on the floor.
Then by contracting your glutes, raise your legs up so that they make a straight line with your body.
Build up to 3 sets of 20 reps and then start to add tiny amounts of weight to your feet.
Functional Glute Exercises
This exercise is one of the very best glute exercises. And you will know about it for days!
This can be performed with just body weight, dumbbells in hands or a barbell on your back.
Take a large step and sink down so that you back knee almost touches the floor. Then put the weight on your front leg and step through for the next lunge.
Perform 3 sets of 20 reps.
To perform this take a really large step backwards and bring your upper body down so your hands touch the floor. Then leading with your chest up, stand upright and squeeze your hips forward.
Either alternate legs and perform 3 sets of 20 repetitions. Or do each leg individually and do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg. Progress by holding dumbbells in your hands.
Squats are a great exercise for the lower half of your body but if you are doing half squats you are not going to be recruiting your glutes effectively. To really make this one of those glute exercises that gives them an intense workout you need to squat deep. Even past parallel almost like you are sitting on a really low stall.
A good way to train yourself to squat deep is to set up a aerobics step behind you and squat down to it so that your bum just touches it and then squat back up. For someone who is a little less steady or confident on their feet i would say this is a good place to start the glute exercises section on squats and then move on.
At the top of the movement punch your hips through by squeezing your glutes. Add resistance so that you are challenged to perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
For more ‘problem area’ exercises have a look at my stomach exercise series which can be found on my website with picture illustrations, or by clicking on my profile and viewing them from there.