Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist
You got WHAT?!!! It sounds like the weirdest medical condition. Gluteal amnesia? Doc, how long do I have to live?!!! I know, I am making light of something that can be a big problem. However, far too many people talk about it without people doing the simplest things to get the glutes to work. You might be surprised that the best glute exercises aren’t what you would normally think about.
Yes, not having your glutes work can cause all sorts of issues. Bad backs, knees, shoulders, and yes, it makes you weaker in full body lifts. The good news is getting them to work typically isn’t very difficult.
Now, you may first wonder why so many people have problems using their glutes, yes even in popular glute exercises. The most obvious is that we sit too much. Our body is very smart, if it doesn’t have to work it won’t. That means when you sit the artificial support of the chair our glutes shut down, our hips can get tight, and over time we get less connected to our body. There can be other reasons as well like injury, or just unbalanced training.
The most important thing is how we can remedy such issues so here are 5 ways to get your glutes to work better!
Use Different Body Positions
It seems so simple, these kneeling and half kneeling postures. Yet, if you get into these positions and have the right intent you can teach people how to use their glutes without impeding their other fitness goals.
What is the right intent? For one, dig into those toes, just get down on one knee and try digging your back toes into the ground. Feel your glutes get tight? That means like everything else we do in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training, all strength comes from the ground up! When you are kneeling and half kneeling postures press actively into the ground with the feet and full extend the hips.
These types of Ultimate Sandbag workouts train the glutes in all three dimensions of movement!
Trying to maintain those positions perform Press Outs, Half Kneeling Arc Presses, or one of my favorites Around the Worlds.
Go More Single Leg!
While most people talk about glute exercises and refer to bridging and deadlifts, the glutes are more active when they have to stabilize and move! Most people focus upon the fact that the glutes (the several muscles not just one!) extend the hips. However, they also abduct the lower body, adduct the lower body, rotate the leg/hip, tilt the pelvis posteriorly, and laterally rotate the hip.
If this sounds somewhat confusing, it really isn’t in a broad sense. When you walk and your leg strikes the ground, the glutes are important in not just helping propelling the body forward, but also stabilizing the body from side to side. NOT having this ability is a big reason people get hip, back, and knee pain.
Getting the benefit of single leg exercises doesn’t mean you have to be completely single leg. These Ultimate Sandbag glute exercises are great progressions to more challenging single leg movements.
It makes sense then why we progress many movements in DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training by working on varying progressions of single leg exercises. Whether that is in the Sprinter Stance, a variety of patterns stepping, or being true single leg. You can get the glutes working A LOT better by just prioritizing such movements.
FINISH The Movement!
One of the big concepts we keep reinforcing in our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training educational programs is being deliberate in “finishing” the lift. What do we mean? Many people can lunge, step-up, deadlift, and squat without fully extending their hips. They rise up, they lift the weight up, but there is still movement to be had!
What we want to do in all such movements in press down into the ground to lock out the leg. You can feel this by not lifting anything. Stand up, grab the ground with your feet as hard as you can and press down into your feet. Don’t try to snap your legs, but rather keep pushing into your feet and your legs will naturally lockout. What do you feel? Did your glutes clench? I bet they did;)
Use Your Lats
I spoke about the fact that one of the BIGGEST things people miss in glute training is the naturally connection to the lats. You can read the whole article HERE. Whether you want to call it the “posterior oblique system” or the “holy crap the body is connected” system, you want to try to activate the lats in movements that also try to use the glutes.
That is one of the overlooked benefits of our many DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Front Loaded Good Morning drills. By actively pulling the weight to the body and hip hinging you get more out of the core muscles and lats. Ironically, the natural chain that teaches the glutes to work better!
Teach the Body to Resist!
This relates to a few of our other points here, but teaching the body to resist excessive motion is so important. Most people don’t get injured or plateau because their big muscles aren’t working, but more because stabilizers and smaller muscles aren’t doing their job.
Of course doing so means we need to teach these skills at really fundamental levels. Being on the ground is a good starting point, but our goal is to always move to standing postures. Yet, from building good habits, using the ground can be helpful especially in drills like our MAX Glute Bridge
Sadly we can pretty much bet on people having glute issues. However, they may not all be the same! The best plan of “attack” is to have a well rounded approach of improving glute function. I should say, overall body function!
Find out more how DVRT is changing how we see functional training and bringing strength to life. Check out our upcoming DVRT educational programs HERE and save 25% on our DVRT online educational programs HERE with coupon code “spring2018. Of course all Ultimate Sandbags are on sale for 25% as well HERE