Their mouths were just about hanging open. I over heard the chatter of “how was I doing this wrong the whole time!” That was the response many of the attendees of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training sessions were experiencing this past week in Australia.
What was it that they were still scratching their heads about? We were introducing some of our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Restoration concepts and were covering the infamous glute bridge. Sounds silly right? After all, the glute bridge is such a common exercise doesn’t EVERYONE know how to perform them?
After our session I can tell you from a university professor to strength coach to seasoned fitness professional, they all were so surprised at how much they DID NOT know about the glute bridge.
One of the bigger concepts I have been trying to get people to understand is that of task vs intent. When people look at the glute bridge they think of the task of lifting the hips. What they SHOULD be focusing upon is the intent of HOW the hips raise during the movement.
In order to REALLY understand this concept you need to know what we are trying to accomplish. I know, you are thinking to yourself, “stronger glutes, DUH!” While that is true, it isn’t the whole story.
If you are a believer in the concept of functional training you will realize that the goal is never to strengthen the individual muscle, but the entire chain. You see, we aren’t some Frankenstein combination of muscles. Our bodies are pretty darn well engineered for incredibly complex movements. So, much so, that robots have a hard time replicating our movement. This reminds us that our bodies aren’t machines, but SMARTER than a machine!
When we think of stronger glutes we should think about how they work in the real world. Our bodies ability to extend our hips is not a by product of us thrusting our hips forward, but actually work in reaction to how we come in contact with the ground.
Think about it, when you run, you don’t think about “throwing” your leg forward. Runners work on how their foot strikes the ground. This causes a chain reaction up the body which really influences how our hips actually work.
The Posterior Oblique System is really how our body moves and our glutes are trained!
So, a glute bridge is far less about trying to “thrust” the hips upwards, but how you push your feet into the ground. Just ask anyone who deadlifts heavy weight. Great deadifters don’t think about push their hips into the bar as much as they focus upon driving their feet into the ground.
As we push into the ground we do want to focus on squeezing our glutes, but they aren’t the driver, our feet create the motion.
If you are now a believer in the feet being important, you might really find the next part hard to believe. Your glutes have another area of the body that they are closely related to in motion, that is the lats. How in the world are they connected?
Physical Therapist, Diane Lee, calls this the Posterior Oblique Sling, others have different names. The important part is the relationship of the right lat to your left glute and left lat to your right glute. Confusing I know.
Yet, if you take away exercise and think about our most fundamental human movement, walking, it makes way more sense. When you walk or run you will find that opposing limbs move together. That isn’t just some weird action, but a very deliberate motion to help create stability.
Stability of what? Walking is actually an incredible unstable action. When we walk we have moments when we are on completely one leg and pushing ourselves with force. We have to both produce force and maintain our posture by creating stability. Since our spine would normally feel unstable while walking your opposing glute and lat connect to use your body’s natural weight belt.
The intimidating name, the thoracolumbar fascia, connects these muscles and your obliques to create basically a weight belt for your spine. Something you think probably NOTHING about when you move happens quickly and reflexively every day.
If we understand how we move in every day life it would make sense that we would try to do the same in the gym. To me, this is what functional training is REALLY trying to be different. This means when we do something like the glute bridge we have to activate the lats if we want to know “feel” our low backs and optimize those glutes.
How? Well, that is what today’s DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training video is all about!
Lastly, how about loading more and more of the glute bridge? If you are starting to believe what I am saying about proper use of the glutes (it really isn’t my opinion but the actual biomechanics of the body), then you might begin to see that how we load the glute bridge is probably wrong too!
Many people place load (even Ultimate Sandbags) or their hips when they do glute bridges. I get why, they think the motion is coming from the action of the hips. However, we have already established it is coming from the feet and the connection of the chain with the core and lats.
Imagine how odd it would be if on the leg press we put the weight on the thighs. After all, aren’t those the muscles creating the motion? However, even on a machine like the leg press we put the weight at the feet. It is the drive of the feet and up the chain the creates the motion.
So, how SHOULD we load the glute bridge? There are really two good options….
That is because our glutes work really together to not just project us forward, but to stabilize our bodies from side to side. That is why experts like Dr. Stuart McGill are such strong proponents of lateral hip strength.
“Consider a 340 pound NFL lineman, who is strength trained in the weight room on Olympic lifts and power cleans. His coaches believe he is well trained. Yet the athlete has back pain that limits training. Measuring his cutting speed – the ability to take 5 fast strides forward, plant a foot and cut to the right reveals his great weakness and strength imbalance. The pelvis drops on the swing leg side and the spine bends laterally. He reports a twinge of pain. All of his strength training has been performed with two legs on the ground. All of the pulls, lifts and presses never trained the core in 3-dimensions. The weak link is limiting his performance and causing stress and pain. Addressing this with loaded carrying exercises produced more lateral spine stiffness in his core. His pelvis and spine produce appropriate proximal stiffness (proximal to the hip joint) so that more velocity of all of the muscles that cross the hip joint works on the distal side of the joint resulting in faster leg speed. Further, the spine does not bend, the stress concentration at the joint is eliminated and the pain is gone. This example demonstrates that the hip muscles were limited by a weaker lateral core. Specifically, the gluteal muscles on the stance leg were confined by the lateral core muscles on the swing leg side of the body – in this case the lateral obliques and quadratus lumborum. Good training always addresses the elements that assist and potentiate one another throughout the body linkage. The core is home base for strength and speed.”
The most challenging is to combine these elements and that is when you get amazing drills like our MAX Glute Bridge.
Hopefully in reading this post, you don’t see just cool new DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training exercises to perform. Rather, a better way of training to be strong in the way it was actually designed to move!
Love innovative fitness information like this? Don’t miss our DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training Restoration Course at the world renown Results Fitness HERE