Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist
When in doubt, blame the glutes, right?! Seems like the glutes pick up where “core training” left off as far as being the trendy new muscle to blame for all our fitness and movement woes.
I make the comparison of glutes to the core because they have a lot in common. Both are named as a group of muscles, but when discussed, usually have the focus of only one. For example, most people say glutes and they think of glute maximus. Only one of three glute muscles that make up the complex! Not only that, it is often hard to discuss glutes without also mentioning the role of the TFL, hamstrings, hip flexors, and much more!
My point? People often forget that the real point of functional fitness is to acknowledge and understand how our body works together, not in separate independent parts.
If we dig a little deeper, we quickly realize that the glutes are more interesting that most talk about because like many big muscles groups of the body, they do more than one thing. Not only do they do more than one thing, they do so at once.
Just look at the glute maximus and you will see it is a muscle that runs along our body unlike the biceps for example. It fans out and gives us the ability to do a lot of various motions, which makes sense when it is part of the hip joint which possesses so much movement to it (well, at least SHOULD).
Muscles like the biceps run more “up and down” which reflects the fact they pretty much ONE thing (flex the arm).
While there are ways to isolate the glutes and see how “strong” they are, I was always more of a fan in clinical situations to look at more functional tests like the single leg stance test. As the name implies we would have people stand on one leg for a given amount of time.
Most people believed we were testing their “balance”, but really we were looking a postural stability and how the glutes work in not just extending the hip, but resisting side to side motion as well as how well do they integrate with the rest of the muscles of the hip, core, and lower leg.
The glutes are a complex area and should be trained as truly a tri-planar group of muscles. What do I mean by tri-planar? Your body moves through three planes of motion when we walk, run, or do most daily and sporting actions. This is for efficiency of movement and allows us to do things like create great power.
While it is great to start people in learning how to use the glutes with drills like glute bridges, deadlifts, and so on, the reality is you need to move the glutes through more planes and sometimes ALL planes of motion at once!
Rotational based DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training exercises like the Cyclone actually take the glutes through all three planes of motion!
All your training should be progressing to teach the glutes both to produce and resist forces, ideally at the same time.
Working your hip hinges in different patterns and starting to add motion in all directions is key in real world glute training.
What I love about using DVRT Ultimate Sandbag Training is that it gives us so many options in how to train the body from very fundamental levels to establish good movement habits, all the way to real world demands. Sadly, most people get stuck with what is good in the gym, and miss what is actually needed in real life. Once you understand some fundamental concepts of how the body actually moves, you are one step closer to using and appreciating functional fitness to a higher level!
Check out the REAL science of functional fitness at some of our upcoming DVRT educational events HERE or save 25% on our Online DVRT Level 1 Ultimate Sandbag Training certification with coupon code “SPRING2016” and gain the real fitness edge HERE
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