Problems Associated with Weak Glutes

Everyone wants a nice looking backside, right?  …Especially us ladies.  We all want our butt to look “tight”, “firm” (insert whatever other adjective you use to describe a nice looking butt here).  If we all want this, we need to make sure that our glute muscles are firing correctly in each exercise that we do that involves them.  If they aren’t, we’re pretty much just wasting our time with the movement.

Your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body.  Being the largest muscle, you would think it should have a pretty serious role in movement, correct?  Correct.

The gluteus maxiums can be referred to as a powerhouse.  Everytime you take a step, your glute muscles contract…or at least they should be contracting.  If you’ve ever taken a step and slightly fallen off balance, it’s likely that this could be attributed to poor glute contraction.  Your glute muscles play a huge role in balance.  Therefore, the stronger your glutes are, typically the better balanced you’ll be. Along with poor balance, some other problems caused by weak glute activation are as follows…

  • weak core
  • poor posture
  • poor lateral movement
  • poor vertical
  • aches & pains (low back, hips, knees)

As you can see, various issues are likely to arise if your glutes are not firing properly. These all are unnecessary problems that can be corrected when you learn to properly fire your glutes.  In order to do this, like any other muscle in your body, they need to be warmed up before you use them.  Try leg swings, lateral resistance band walks, and glute bridges as your dynamic warm-up.

Once you’ve warmed up the glutes, the following are great exercises that target them…

  • Deadlifts
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Stair Climbs
  • Lunges
  • Lateral Lunges
  • Glute bridges (single leg, for more of a challenge)

NOTE: When doing lunges, squats, etc.  make sure that you are pushing up through your heels rather than your toes.  Pushing up through the heel allows the glutes to activate, whereas, pushing up on a lunge or squat through the toe, takes much of that glute activation away (gastrocnemius & soleus are getting more of a contraction in this case).  Also, it’s very important to be sure that the glutes are firing during bodyweight exercises before loading a particular pattern or movement. 

Just to stress the importance of glutes firing properly, I will say it again.  Your glueus maximus is a powerhouse.  So many people think that the legs hold all the power in running and walking, when in fact, it’s actually the gluteus maximus.  Weak glutes have been linked to knee, foot, and back pain.  Having strong glutes will propel you forward (in running & walking) without putting that extra strain on the knees, feet, lower back, & legs.  Therefore, you’ll be able to move much more efficiently and much more pain free.

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Quote of the Month

 

 GOALS ARE THE FUEL IN THE FURNACE OF ACHIEVEMENT.

Every major accomplishment in life starts with some sort of goal.  

Put time aside in your busy schedule to do some goal setting.  I’m not talking 20 minutes.   I’m talking about sitting down for an hour, or even longer to really do some deep thinking about what you want to achieve.  This could be what you want to achieve by the end of the year, in 5 years, and even 10 years down the road.  These could be self-improvement goals, financial goals, and/or career-related goals.  They’re YOUR goals for YOUR future so they can be whatever you want them to be.  There’s no such thing as aiming too high. 

Don’t just keep these goals in your head.  WRITE THEM DOWN.  Write them down on a piece of paper & laminate it, write them down in your moleskin, write them down and post it on your bathroom mirror. Carry them with you.  Do whatever is necessary to keep these goals fresh on your mind all the time.   If you have a self-improvement goal of dropping 20 pounds by the end of the year, that constant reminder that you see on your bathroom mirror should motivate you & get you going in the morning. Be sure you set smaller goals along with the big ones too though.   It’s nice & reassuring to feel that sense of accomlishment every so often.  It makes it hard to stay focused on a goal you set for 5 years down the road when well, you have to wait 5 years to see that achievement.  This is why those smaller goals are SO important.  Small steps (small goals), lead to big leaps (those larger goals)

So take the time to sit down and really contemplate what you want out of your life.  Doing this will only fuel your furnace to achievement.

Standing Cable Woodchops

Standing cable woodchops are easily one of my favorite exercises for building good core strength & stability.  It’s an excellent rotational exercise for the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, & obliques, as well as a very functional movement to perform.

If you play golf, tennis, baseball, softball etc., and don’t include woodchops into your routine, I’d suggest incorpoating them.  The rotational movement with added resistance will help improve your swing if done properly.  Even if you don’t play sports, adding woodchops and other rotational patterns into your routine will benefit you greatly.  Many of us spend so much time moving forwards and backwards in what is known as the sagittal plane. Incorporating exercises that are in the tranverse plane, consisting of  rotational movements (as well as the frontal plane which I’ll discuss in a later post), will help to prevent possible injuries down the road, as well as allow for more muscular balance.

To Perform:

  • Stand with feet about shoulder width apart
  • Grip the cable with whichever hand is closest to the cable (or the inside arm); the other hand will grip over that hand
  • Begin the movement then by tightening your core and rotating your trunk as you pull the cable away from the machine starting high & then pulling down low
  • Pivot the inside foot as you rotate your torso then return back to start position

Notes:

  • Be sure to exhale as you chop downward and inhale on the release
  • Use your core strength to control the weight on the release as well
  • Be sure to pivot the inside foot to allow for full hip & torso rotation

A Reason To Ramp Up Your Workouts

Our bodies are specifically designed to expend as little energy as possible.  Obviously, if your ultimate goal is fat loss, this results in a problem because in this case, you want to be expending as much energy as possible.  When the goal is body fat reduction, the key is to focus on burning more calories, not necessarily burning fat.  It’s also important to understand that one must expend more calories than consumed in order to lower body fat.

So in order to avoid the body expending minimal energy, you need to focus on expending maximal energy.  How do you do this?

Focus on maximizing caloric expenditure in each training session, & thus the excess post oxygen consumption.

EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption) refers to the state in which the body’s metabolism is elevated following a workout.  This simply means that the body is burning more calories following exercise than it was before taking part in exercise.  A good analogy to compare is to is how the engine of a car stays warm for a period of time after is has been driven.   Following a workout, your  body is using more oxygen than normal in order to replenish energy supplies, lower temperatures, and return the body to a resting state, resulting in more calorie burn.

Research has shown that the higher the intensity of the training session (the higher the HRmax or VO2 percentage), the greater the magnitude of EPOC.  It has also been shown that splitting the training session into multiple sessions (2) of equal time may have the greatest effect on EPOC. This would seen to make sense since the body’s metabolism would be elevated on 2 different counts throughout the day.

I suggest focusing on pushing yourself and increasing the intensity of your workouts a little more than you have been lately. If you do, this will maximize the amount of oxygen consumption needed for the duration of (as well as the recovery from) your workout, as well as result in burning more calories overall!

Reference: NASM: Essentials of Personal Fitness Training

Static vs. Dynamic Stretching

Static Stretching involves passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for a minimum of 20 seconds.  Dynamic Stretching uses force production of a muscle and the body’s momentum to take a joint through the full available range of motion.

While both should be incorporated during every workout, there is a correct time to do static stretching & a correct time for dynamic stretching.

Your workout should BEGIN with dynamic stretching (dynamic warm up) and END with static stretching.

If you think about it, it should make sense.  Before you workout, you need to warm your body up.  Standing and reaching down to touch your toes doesn’t necessarily get the blood flowing, therefore you should be partaking in activity that will.

The goals of a dynamic warm up are to:

  • Increase blood flow to muscles
  • Increase body’s core temperature
  • Open up/loosen joints
  • Increase nervous system awareness
  • Actively stretch muscles to prepare them for the activity that will come

Some examples of what to do for a dynamic warm up include:

  • Walking Lunges
  • Prisoner Squats
  • Lateral Resistance Band Walks
  • Toy Soldiers
  • Butt Kicks
  • High Knees
  • Leg Swings

The purpose of the dynamic warm up is to prepare your body for the workout to come.  It should last at least 10 minutes.  Following your workout, you should end with STATIC STRETCHING. 

Static stretching needs to be done when muscles are warm.  This is another reason why it’s completely ineffective to static stretch before a workout.

Holding a static stretch (remember for at least 20 seconds!) for every muscle that was worked during your workout will help prevent stiffness and soreness the next day or two, as well as improve flexibility and overall range of motion.

So now that you know, be sure you BEGIN your workout with DYNAMIC STRETCHING & END with STATIC STRETCHING.