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New Era of Glute Exercises

glute exercises

Cory Cripe, DVRT Master, (Creator DVRT Movement Strength)

We have blown through the first month of 2019 all ready! It’s no surprise how gyms notice an increase of members during the first few months of the year with everyone set on their New Year’s resolution of losing weight or getting “fit,” or something along the lines of a new year, a new you.

How about we call it new year, new hip hinges … better yet: new year, BETTER hip hinge! I cannot begin telling you how so many come to us at Fitness Lying Down at the beginning of each year with this list of “resolutions” they want to achieve, when they lack the ability to perform one of the most basic movement patterns of the human race! How can we give people better low backs and better looking back sides if we don’t have smarter glute exercises?

Now don’t get me wrong, if someone wants to lose 10 pounds or fit into a pair of jeans – and that is their New Year’s resolution, that’s great – I’m all for it! BUT – what good is it to fit into those jeans again when you hurt your back because you were unable to pick up something off the ground properly?!?! Those butt burning glute exercises don’t matter much if they don’t actually make you better.

And those smarter and better glute exercises are all about understanding what we really look for in great hip hinging. Finding out these newbies aren’t able to hip hinge is the first step in getting them to perform smarter glute exercises, however, finding out the scary stories they’ve been told about how dangerous hip hinge exercises are can be a huge obstacle!

#TRUE STORY: We had a 16 year-old female client whose doctor told her to never do deadlift exercises anymore because of the possible injury to her low back! I simply told this client how we’ll teach her how to never deadlift wrong again 😉 After all, understanding foundational glute exercises like a deadlift are actually important in building resiliency IF we realize what we are focusing upon. 

I’ll share with you what I share with our new clients that come through the door – especially the ones who constantly hear how we should lift with our legs and not our backs:

When my little Ruthie was just learning how to walk she found a small, oval trash can lying on its side. She went and stood over it and performed that perfect baby squat – you know what I’m talking about! At the bottom of her squat, she put her hands underneath the cylinder to lift, but then an amazing thing happened! She lifted her butt up moving from a squat position to a hip hinge position and successfully lifted the object off the ground!

Hip hinging is in our DNA, even the smallest human beings can do it without being coached into it! However, through a lack of moving, injuries, compensations, etc as we get older – we lose touch with our hip hinge and begin doing some funky things to lift stuff off the ground. It doesn’t make sense to teach glute exercises to work mostly on the ground when we don’t live on the ground. Our glute exercises should teach us to move better in real life situations.

The great news is we can rediscover and reclaim our hip hinge to create a stronger, more resilient movement pattern! I’m going to take you through a 3-part series of hip hinging to give you the tools for understanding better NOT the task of doing these exercises, but the intent of how to perform the misunderstood hip hinge movement. You won’t see us isolating in these glute exercises, but you WILL find us making you way better by connecting through these DVRT drills.

Hip Bridges

This is where we begin all of our FLD clients on their path to hip hinge rediscovery. Being on the ground is the most stable environment for them to learn and be successful. What I really enjoy as a coach is how the cues I use with the hip bridges on the floor will be the same cues for the deadlifts standing on both feet!

I used to believe that hip bridges was one of the most useless exercises because

– it was just a body weight exercise

– I usually ended up with a sore low back

This was, of course, before I saw the light through the DVRT lens! Like most of you, I used to coach the hip bridge as ‘just lift your butt up as high as you can, touch your belt buckle to the ceiling while squeezing your glutes,’ and then walk away because I had more important exercises to coach! The problem with only thinking about the task of performing the hip bridge exercise is we lose focus on the intent of the movement. Many try to lift their hips so high off the ground that they wind up compromising their pelvic position and overextend causing soreness in the low back from arching. 

glute exercises

Plus, when only focused on lifting your hips as high as you can and squeezing your butt, we forget where this movement should begin from – your feet!

Cueing the feet during the hip bridge and learning how to push down into the floor with your feet to start the bridging process is going to save you a lot of time and energy when progressing the hip hinge movements!

So, let’s begin with those feet! We want the set up to begin with feet shoulder width apart and bringing your feet close enough to your hips that your shins are vertical. Why? Because when we progress to the deadlift exercise this is the exact spot you will be in, but standing. 

Grabbing the floor with the feet (like you would grab with your hands) is quite unfamiliar to most of our clients, but when they grasp this concept, it ends up saving lots of lives (and low backs)! For those who continue to struggle with the whole feet grabbing the floor idea, we’ll throw a Mini-Band around their feet for some additional feedback and that usually does the trick!

When you successfully begin the hip bridge by pushing the feet into the ground, your hips automatically, some FLD clients say, “magically,” rise … it’s like a David Copperfield show for them! It’s such a cause and effect movement because when you’re taxed out from pushing your feet through the floor and can’t push no more, your hips are at the highest point they NEED to be at – an honest hip extension without hyperextension! You will be able to notice a straight line can be drawn on the side of the body from the shoulders to the knees.

If you’re anything like me, you never knew how important feet were to such an afterthought of an exercise like the hip bridge, but DVRT has changed the meaning to make it a better solution, not just another exercise! But that is only half the equation, what do we do with our hands?

When you perform traditional deadlifts, you’re holding onto a barbell, so how does a bodyweight hip bridge prepare you for that? We use the Ultimate Sandbag during the hip bridge not only to provide a load, but to teach the upper body how to connect to the lower body through those precious anatomical slings you see all the time.

Using the outside handles offers a neutral grip, unlike the conventional pronated grip with the barbell, setting the stage for a more complete core experience! With the neutral grip, tearing the USB apart will automatically elicit a huge lat response and if there’s anything I’ve learned through DVRT is how important including the lats are in every exercise!

Now when we combine the feet pressing into the floor with pulling the USB apart we have provided more depth into this otherwise shallow exercise. There are connections made between the upper body and lower body that weren’t possible before when it was only a bodyweight exercise. Plus, anyone performing the DVRT hip bridge will realize how this just isn’t some warm-up, activation, corrective – whatever you call it – but a strength exercise!

As I mentioned at Fitness Lying Down we consider this the gateway to future hip hinge exercises and we begin all our clients here to allow them the opportunity to feel those connections and build their hip hinge movement. We love to add layers on top of the hip bridge to continue challenging our clients with various body and holding positions. We also look at the hip bridge in many different ways for our clients during their training sessions:

For our beginning clients, the DVRT hip bridge serves as their hip hinge exercise until they show proficiency in the movement to progress to the next level. For our intermediate and advanced clients we’ll use one of the many layers of the hip bridge as a form of restoration to prepare them for their upcoming training experience. Also, we find opportunities to sprinkle the hip bridges in training sessions as a means of teaching how to resist rotation – anyone ever see a MAX hip bridge? Hook up a Core Strap to the USB from the side and watch how people’s eyes will light up 😉

To wrap up, we use DVRT to first educate people how to move, teach them how to navigate gravity (thanks Gary Gray) and then build strength in those movements after we establish a solid foundation. I’m excited to take you through the way we do this with the hip hinge movement beginning with the bridge and moving on to other progressions – fasten your seatbelt and get ready for the ride!

You can learn about Myofascial Integrated Movement program HERE. This and ALL our DVRT programs are 20% off with code “save20” this week along with other great DVRT programs & our Ultimate Sandbags