Our glutes (aka booty)- they are so important for a variety of reasons.
Not to mention we all want good ones, right???
However our booty is so much more important to our daily lives than just how it looks in jeans. The muscles that make it up play an important role in movement every day.
Our booty is made up of 3 essential muscles that are known as the glutes. We have the gluteus maximus which is the primary mover, the glute medius and glute minimus. Together they all help to extend and rotate the hip in and out.
Our glute max helps extend your leg back and outward as well as help with rotation of the leg outward.
The medius helps with in and out rotation of the leg and the minimus basically aids with that too (to keep the explanation short 🙂 ). They also work together to protect the lower back, spine and pelvis (when they are strong).
Oftentimes pain in the lower back, neck, and knees can all indicate weak glutes. Muscle imbalances are common in many adults, especially if you tend to sit alot or do not do much if any strength training.
Overcompensation in other areas is a result. Simply put this means you put pressure on the wrong muscles when the primary muscle that should be doing the work (in this case the glutes) is not working properly.
So What Do We Want To Work On To Help?
First you want to be sure you can get an eccentric glute load, meaning being able to feel the glutes lengthen when squatting or hinging. If they cannot lengthen then they will never be able to relax and contract in a way where you can load them and strengthen them correctly.
When you Squat you are allowing your hips to go back and down while letting your glutes lengthen and support the hip. Then you let them contract on the way up.
(think dead lift or bending over)
You want to allow your hips to go back without allowing them to go down as much (depending on the type of deadlift you are doing). With this move you need full lengthening again or you will take some of the blunt in your back. This happens because your pelvis will begin taking over due to possible imbalances in your deep hip rotators or simply tightness (both of which can be fixed with practice and work!).
A great way to try this is to stand in front of a wall and allow hips to hinge back until your butt hits the wall. Keep your weight in your heels and big toe. As you are bending over your glutes go back then your upper body (maintaining a neutral spine). You can bend your knees a little bit once you feel those hamstrings stretching too.
Things to look out for –
If you have lower back pain:
It could be because you tend to clench your glutes when standing this can cause an issue with learning how to load in extension. Simply pay attention to how you stand throughout the day, and try to relax!
You could be dealing with tightness in your hips. This can cause your hips to not be able to push back as far as they can or should. Simple hip stretching exercises can help and working on true glute activation can help strengthen your hips.
Your core may be weak – if this is the case starting with something like learning to breathe properly can go a long way. Just keep practicing. It takes time! This blog can help if ya need it!
If you have knee pain:
You may be leading with your knees! Ensure that you are sitting back when you squat.
Pay attention to your feet, are you going more onto your toes or heels? Heels are key!
Do some glute activation work before you start to do full movements. Turn those suckers on first!
Now lets talk about Activation:
It is essentially a form of hinging but easier to isolate glutes and get them to fire.
Perform the movement by – laying on your back you will place hands by your sides slowly lift hips up keeping spine neutral and working to squeeze glutes at the top of movement, Drive through heels and keep big toe down. Hinge hips back down and repeat.
Banded lateral walks:
Place a band slightly above the knees. Stand hip width apart and keep feet facing forward. Leave a soft bend in the knee and slightly hinge hips back (key word slightly). Step to the right side and keep tension in the band, return back to start leading with the left foot. Repeat for a few rounds until you feel the burn in the side of that booty! (here are my favorite bands – glute bands)
You can use a band over your knees if you wish or practice without. Hold onto something to be able to keep neutral spine and focus first on breathing. Sit back into the squat keep your spine neutral without looking down. Aim to keep weight in heels and core engaged by keeping big toes down. Go slow and slightly press out on band with knees. Feel the stretch in glutes then stand up and squeeze to the top. Repeat.
To learn – stand slightly in front of a wall and plant feet. Breathe deep first and focus on letting hips hinge back then follow with lowering of the upper body while keeping a neutral spine. Once you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings you can bend knees slightly to go a little deeper. Slowly start to contract glutes as you stand back up. Repeat.
All of these movements should always start with bodyweight then move into adding more external resistance. Build up and progress and do not compare yourself to others.
If you want a whole video on just squatting and how it can help – check this out –
Achieving optimal glute strength will not only help prevent lower back pain, hip pain and knee pain but it will also help us really ensure we are protecting ourselves when we move during every day life.
All of these exercises can be incorporated to different parts of your cycle and workout routine/plan. For example during your menstrual phase it would be ideal to do more activation and stretching where as during your follicular you would and could focus on lifting heavier and doing more explosive movements to help really build the muscle up.
Bottom line is our glutes are important. We need them to work properly to help us live pain free and get more results in our workouts and in daily life.
What do you think of when thinking of ways to lower inflammation? Getting a massage? Eating less processed foods? Taking supplements? What about working out? Does working out help? The answer is yes. Many types of work outs are proven to lower the bodies overall stress response and in turn can lower inflammation levels. However not all workouts are created equal.
When we think workouts that can help us lower inflammation we want to think more moderate exercise. Like a long walk, or something to get you moving for 20- 30 minutes.
In fact one studyshowed that just 20 minutes a day of exercise can prove to be beneficial in lowering inflammation in the body (again this is moderate exercise not super high intense stuff). The reason being is it promotes our sympathetic nervous system, doing so can help fight off the overwhelming amount of TNF cells our body has. These guys aren’t necessarily bad, they help with our natural immune response when we are sick or get cut, etc. However due to chronic inflammation and us being exposed to so much they can be in overdrive and causing harm to us.
Why wouldn’t you want to do something more challenging??
The answer is because if you are already inflamed, if you already have too much stress in your life and in your body whether it is physical or mental, the last thing you want to do is add more stress to that. Intense workouts like crossfit, HIIT classes, really long runs, are just a few that can do more harm than good for some people. This is NOT to say no one should ever do them, but if you are working to lose weight and have not been able to for a while regardless of the work you are putting in, if you are stressed, not sleeping, etc, then you need to take a step back for a few and then you can rebuild yourself to be able to enjoy those more intense workouts again if that is your thing. You don’t want to add more stress to an already stressed out body!
So what types of workouts are recommended??
Walking – outside if you can – taking a decent pace can not only help those who are getting into working out moving but also those who work out hard can use a long walk as a reset to their taxed muscles. Walking promotes the lymphatic system to move and drain to help get rid of toxins and inflammation as well as blood circulation, and heart rate goes up!
Body weight or lighter resistance workouts – once you have a foundation built doing lighter weights or moderate resistance workouts can be great for helping the joints get more mobility and the muscles to get active and working properly. Always start slow and progress your way up. This is why I always start clients with a foundation building phase. It is something I learned over the years from some of the great people I work with at CYB Atlanta but it really does help in the long run to ensure you are moving and doing right for your body.
Yoga and/or mediation with deep breathing – deep breathing is my go to for everyone. Be it fitness professionals, every generation, pre and post natal women, I could go on. It promotes relaxation in the body by really turning on the right responses, It therefore decreases stress all over – hence inflammation decreases. Yoga incorporates this so you can do two things at once. If you are not into yoga then just simply practicing deep breathing 5-10 minutes a day can make a big difference, add in mediation if you can to get even more bang for you buck. See more on that here
Foam rolling and stretching may not be a “workout” for most but it should definitely be part of your workout program. Your muscles need to be loved and worked on. Foam rolling is great way to do just that and to not have to spend tons of money on massages every week.
Not sure what this is? I got you-
Overall working out is a benefit to us. No matter what our fitness level or goals. Moving a little bit each day can really go a long way. Putting ourselves as a priority and taking care of ourselves through working out, rest, and movement will pay off for not only ourselves but others around us too.
You can get a four week workout program and save $10 with code CHANGEUP by going here. – WORKOUT PROGRAM
Want a FREE mobility exercise guide along with tips and tricks to help get you feeling and moving better? Sign up below! [mc4wp_form id=”458″]
Our hips….. Lawd if I had a dollar for everytime someone told me they have tight hips. It is funny though because I feel like alot of us relate everything tight in the front of our legs as our hips even the inner thigh area. Not that it is necessarily wrong but most of us do not even know what are hips are, what they do, and why they are important. If I asked you would you know?
Here is an example of how our hips get slightly flexed when walking.
Well lets go a little deeper into it then. Our hips are really a MAJOR player in our mobility, our comfort and ability to workout properly, move properly and do everyday things. So to give you a clear understanding, our hips are not just one muscle, we tend to think of “hip flexors” which are but essentially there are 11 of those bad boys responsible for “flexing our hip”. To clarify, to “flex” our hip means to basically swing or raise our leg. Think of when you are stepping up (the knee is bent and leg is 90 degrees aka flexing the hip), when you are walking and swinging your leg forward or when running that is also a degree of hip flexion, when you sit at a desk (like I am right now)…. My hips are flexed. So they get into this position alot, more than they probably get extended…. So they can get tightened and shortened from being this way. That is why we want to not only work to get them less tight, but do so my strengthening the muscles that also work to extend the hip… ya follow??
For example – if we strengthen our glutes and hamstrings more and they can bear more of a load as they are intended then we can take some of the pressure off of our hip flexors. Our glutes and hamstrings are meant to be primary movers as they help extend the hip (think kick back when we walk or run or push off rather) and internally and externally rotate our legs. They also help balance everything out. When we sit alot and our hips shorten then naturally the bigger muscles on the front of our legs take over when we move (think quadriceps) this automatically causes weakness in our glutes and hamstrings because they dont get to do any work. This also can cause too much pressure on our knees and can lead to our pelvis tilting forward because the hips are pulling it down. Then lower back pain starts, we get overstretched and underworked hamstrings and a weak core. If we strengthen the core, hamstrings and glutes it can pull our pelvis into alignment so our posture improves and back pain can diminish.
I know that is alot of information but can you see why keeping our hips mobile and training from a total body approach is important?? If we can get everything balanced out in the front and the back so to speak then we can move and feel better. It is something that is often so overlooked. Do me a favor try stretching your hips out right now, or foam rolling them. If you are confused how then check out the video below.
Also if you are not staying up to date on everything I am releasing and all the free info I send out weekly, then what are you waiting for?? Sign up for my newsletter below I will even send you an exclusive video on foam rolling just for joining :).