Wake up your bum!
Wake up your bum!
(or you could do squats all day and end up with nothing but sore thighs!)
Bottom, buns, peach, boootaaaay!! Whatever you want to call it, we all have one and most of us consider how it looks to be of huge importance nowadays. But have you ever thought about your glutes properly? How they work? What they are for? They’re not just for looking good in jeans and sitting on! The glutes are a huge muscle group made up of three muscles; gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, gluteus maximus. The glute max is the biggest muscle in your body and amongst many other roles and responsibilities one of its jobs is to keep you upright and with a good posture. All 3 glute muscles are located at the back of each hip and stabilise the pelvis and lower back. Many back, hip and even shoulder problems can be caused by a sequence of stress travelling up to surrounding muscles because your glutes aren’t working as they should be. Desk and driving jobs are big culprits in allowing your bottom to become lazy and sure enough these are the types of jobs that often see back problems occurring too.
When the body wants to move, be it either a simple movement like getting up out of your chair or something that requires a little more effort like a squat or a lunge, there is a specific ‘firing up’ sequence that should be happening. Even if it’s a movement which the glutes should perform, inactive or ‘asleep’ glutes will happily allow the quads (the big group of muscles at the front of your thigh) to do the job for them. The quads won’t wait around and say, ‘hey man, do it yourself!’ they will be happy to oblige and eventually think that what is actually the responsibility of the glutes is their responsibility and so the correct ‘firing up’ sequence is disturbed. This is how glutes become inactive and Quads become dominant.
So say you’re trying to achieve a nice rounded bottom shape and so you head straight for ye old faithful squats for example (there are many other, better exercises for building a shapely bottom but that’s a story for another day)… you can do them all day long and the only thing you will achieve doing these with lazy glutes is sore thighs – because your thighs (or quads to be specific) are the ones doing all the work! Who wants a flat bum and massive thighs? Nope.
So how can I wake up my glutes?
Mind to muscle connection is the first thing you need to establish when trying to wake up your glutes. As silly as it sounds you have to really listen to your body and think about the muscle you are trying to engage – not the one that seems the most capable. There are many ‘glute activation’ exercises that you can do, initially, every day but importantly just before heading out to bootcamp. (link to book here?)
Here are some examples;
Punch, prod and squeeze the muscle in your bottom, find the muscles with your fingers and build up that mind to muscle connection.
Sitting on your bottom with feet on the floor, engaging your core and sitting upright squeeze your bottom and feel your self lift slightly. Do this for a minute or so and use a mixture of pulse type contractions and also holding the squeeze for a few seconds at a time.
On hands and knees on the floor, again with an engaged core so not to have arched or rounded your spine. Ensuring there are 90degree angles at your hip and arm pit. Lift your heel upwards towards the ceiling, this is known as a donkey kick. The higher the lift of your heel the more you will feel the glute on that side engage. Remember to keep your spine neutral, don’t bend to try and lift your heel higher.
Lying on your side with legs bent and knees and feet together, slowly lift one knee whilst keeping your toes together, this is known as a ‘clam shell’. Open your hips as wide as possible without tilting your pelvis backwards. This movement will be felt more at the side of your hip – gluteus medius
I would recommend doing each of these (on both sides obviously) until you can feel them starting to work. Bear in mind one side is often weaker than the other so may not take as long as the other.
Why should I work my bum?
As I said, the glutes are responsible for a lot more than people realise. Keeping a strong healthy posture can avoid painful back problems throughout life and it also looks after us when we reach a ripe old age and the risk of serious injury from falling is increased. Once our glutes stop working properly our hip flexors tighten at the top of the front of our legs which can also lead to an array of annoying injuries.
Of course not forgetting that working such a big muscle group like your glutes burns serious calories in itself and as a result you are increasing the mass. The more muscle mass we have the more calories we burn whilst at rest. Yes, you heard me, burn calories using your butts so you can burn calories while you’re sat on your butt! You’re welcome!
Want a good butt workout? Head to one of our bootcamps – yes you’ll work your butt off but you’ll also have fun and make friends too. Take a look here and find one near you.
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