1- Too many people have put their butt on a permanent vacation. Our sedentary lifestyle has wreaked havoc on our bottoms and now our glutes don’t contract as they should when we walk, stand up, get up off the toilet, or play sports.
2- The glutes are often overshadowed by other muscles, meaning stronger muscles take over if your butt isn’t doing its share and may lead to injuries and pain in the long haul.
The butt is essentially made up of one large muscle, the gluteus maximus, which people often refer to as your glutes. Technically there are 3 different gluteus muscles (maximus, medius, and minumus), and the gluteus medius and minimus are actually hip muscles and not butt muscles. To keep things simple, when I use the term glutes, I will only be referring to the gluteus maximus, since the term glutes is familiar to most people.
A few disclaimers before we start:
1. Be careful doing exercises if you have a pre-existing back injury. Also, make sure you do not have chronic or acute knee problems. It is recommended that you see your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Your lower back is highly involved when working your glutes especially if you are using weights. If this is a concern, don’t use weights until you are comfortable with the movements. All of these movements stimulate the hamstrings and the glutes while simultaneously strengthening the muscles of the lower back. The same goes for the knees.
2. Do some basic warm-ups to stimulate blood flow to the muscles. 5 minutes of walking, jump roping, stair stepping, jumping jacks, etc. will get your heart pumping. Always practice the movement before you add weights.
Tips for Getting the Most from your Happy New Rear Workout:
Squeeze your glutes throughout the exercise – Since your goal is to work your glutes (butt) you should consciously try to contract the glutes throughout the exercise. Normally you will feel your glutes working most towards the end of the range of motion, but you should still try to contract the glutes throughout the entire motion. This will help strengthen your brain’s connection to your muscles and allow you to develop even stronger and more focused contractions over time. Slow down and really think about what you are doing. Consciously keep your butt squeezed!
Be aware of your hip position during butt exercises – It is important to keep your hips as level and still as possible during the exercises, because many hip movements are unwanted cheats that will actually disengage your glutes and prevent you from maintaining a consistent contraction throughout the exercise. Your body is looking for the easy way out and will adjust accordingly. You need to think about keeping yourself in position. The most common problem involves raising the hip of the leg you are working. Your hips should stay parallel to the floor. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
Maintain a neutral back position – When your back is in a neutral position (maintaining the natural curve in the spine) the abdominals and back muscles work together to give support for your spine. It’s common for your pelvis to tilt forward when doing glute exercises which causes a curve in your lower back which prevents your glutes from contracting as they should and can lead to lower back pain. Maintain a neutral back position will improve the effectiveness of butt exercises and greatly reduce your chance of experiencing back pain or injury during your workouts.
Maintain a slow and controlled pace throughout the exercises. I see it over and over at the gym- people want to race through each movement. I’m sure the people in my classes get tired of hearing me say “SLOW DOWN!” In order to be effective, you need to isolate the muscle and focus on what you are doing. I like listening to music with a slower beat to keep me from rushing through the reps. If you move too quickly, you tend to use momentum and other muscle groups and not the muscle you are trying to work. Maintaining a slow and controlled speed will decrease the possibility of cheating and maximize your results.
Take slow deep breaths during the exercises – I know it sounds ridiculous to be reminded to breathe but I often catch myself holding my breath when doing an intense movement. In addition to saying “SLOW DOWN,” I am often saying “BREATHE!” Deep breathing is especially important when performing exercises where you need to contract specific muscles while relaxing other muscles.
Uh-oh. The disclaimers and tips seem to have taken over this first post but knowing what you are doing before you do it is really important when exercising so let’s stop here and get ready to have the best butt ever….starting tomorrow!