Butts are often a big problem for your overall health and fitness, and we are not talking about the size of your cheeks. With over 20 years in the fitness industry, I have never had a client go to Physio for one reason or another and come back saying, “the physio told me my glutes are firing awesome!!” Most of time (and by most, I mean all), they are told that their glutes are not firing correctly and that’s leading to whatever pain they may be experiencing.
Feeling the Pain of Inactive Glutes
Unlike the piriformis, which can literally be a pain in the ass, inactive or under active glutes can be felt in a variety of other areas in our body such as:
· lower back pain
· knee pain
· decreased hip mobility
· chronic ankle sprains or locked ankles
· groin strains
· hamstring strains
· decreased ROM or pain in the shoulders
· tight psoas
· plantar fasciitis
Crazy, eh? Under active or inactive glutes can lead to a whole host of problems that you wouldn’t even think had anything to do with your glutes. Plus, glutes that fire correctly will lead to increased performance including running faster, ability to lift more weight and create more power!
How to Strengthen Your Glutes
If you were to google butt exercises, the first ones to come up are traditional squats, lunges, deadlifts, hip thrusts, etc. These are great exercises if your glutes fire properly. If they don’t, then they are great exercises for all your other muscles, like quads and psoas that will have you power through the exercise at potentially the expense of all the problems listed above.
Also, in my experience, clients often come to aesthetically enhance their booty but not their thighs. If glutes aren’t firing correctly there is a great chance that all those squats, lunges and deadlifts are going to go straight to their thighs instead of their bootys.
Instead of focusing on strengthening the glutes, let’s focus on getting them to fire correctly, with just a few simple exercises that you can do almost anywhere you’ll have your glutes reactivated and may start to feel less aches and pains.
Where to Start - Getting the Glutes to Fire
1. Ab Engagement
You are going to want to make sure that through all these exercises you are keeping good ab engagement to help control the movement and help to decrease the work of the psoas and quads, keeping your pelvis in proper alignment. Click here to review proper ab engagement.
2. Mind-Body Connection
To get the glutes to start to fire, we need to feel connected to them. Lie on your belly and squeeze your bum together. Wait, did the front of your thighs tense up too? Really focus. Only your cheeks are going to squeeze, keep the rest of your leg as relaxed as possible.
When that seems to make sense and you’re able to squeeze and hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Try to just squeeze one cheek at a time, then alternate between the two (dancing butt cheeks, your next great party trick, lol).
This connection is imperative as we move forward into more glute exercises. You want to be able to feel as though you can control what is happening in your body. It may make the movement slower to begin with but as your connection increases, your natural ability to fire your glutes and therefore speed, will increase.
3. Practice Walking
Your glutes should fire when you walk, therefore every step can be counted as a rep to a better booty :)
Tap into the connection you have created from above and squeeze your cheeks as you strike your heel with each step.
Full disclosure, it’s going to feel odd. Almost like you have something shoved up there. Because of that, you’ll probably want to save this one for when you’re at home or at the gym for your warmup.
Take it to the next level: Walk on your tiptoes and roll of the big toe focusing on the firing of the glutes. This is a great exercise pre-workout and can be done for about 20-40 metres.
4. Take it to the Next Level
Now that you’ve got the glutes firing again, it’s time to start isolating the glutes with exercises you can do at home, the gym or even on your lunch break. Download the fitilates guide to great glutes here – pictures and description included.
fitilates And Great Glutes
The fitilates repertoire is a great way to ensure that your glutes are active and firing. Specific exercises such as Shoulder Bridge, Side Leg Series, Swimming, Heel Beats, Double Leg Kick (just to name a few) are dependent on proper firing of the glutes for proper execution of the exercise. Specific cuing tuning you in to the Mind-Body connection further helps you to get the most out of them.
Don't forget to get your copy of your guide to great glutes to try them out for yourself! Let us know in the comments below; what's your favourite glute exercise?