I’ve been reading this great book, “The Death of Expertise”, man it is eye opening! If you haven’t read the book basically it breaks down this movement of anti-intellectualism and more interesting to me, we don’t believe there is a right or wrong view point anymore. That may sound counterintuitive considering the amount of arguing that occurs on social media, but generally you will find people say it is just a matter of perspective and both are right. This is a HUGE problem in fitness and specifically looking at how we build functional fitness. For a great example, we are going to break down some of the big misunderstanding of core and glute exercises.
Most people rely on blogs (heck, just like this one) for their information and put pure trust in what the author is writing. I’m the first to encourage questions and discussion on what we write here about DVRT. When you do so though, you need to have information not just what someone else said. My other favorite is when people say, “the science says…” You better be able to provide what science you are talking about! That is because we try very hard to distinguish what is our theory and what is true science.
Funny enough, this leads us to saying things that are different than popular thinking. There probably is no better example than glute exercises like the barbell hip thrust. If you want to accuse me of being different because we are trying to “sell you sandbags” that’s fine, but I’ll tell you I have seen plenty of people put our Ultimate Sandbags on their hips and thrust away. So, that wouldn’t make sense if that was my motivation, I’d just let people thrust on Ultimate Sandbags all day.
That isn’t our goal with DVRT though. Instead, we want you to improve how your body works by using our DVRT system. This leads us to doing something like the hip bridge (notice I try to avoid calling glute exercises like this a “glute bridge” because your glutes don’t work in isolation!) differently, because we want your body to perform as well as it looks!
If there is ONE thing I could get people to understand about glute exercises is that the namesake is misleading. You don’t use deadlifts as just glute training because so many more exercises are involved! The same for kettlebell swings, cleans, jump training, and so many of the hip hinging movements. Focusing on just one muscle causes us to miss the bigger picture of really benefiting from glute exercises.
Two things will change drastically how you view, perform, and progress your glute exercises. The first is that your feet dictate your glutes. Think about it, when was the last time you walked or ran and just randomly had your glutes squeezing? The glutes work as a byproduct of how our feet interact with the ground. Our glutes are most active during the mid-stance phase of walking, when our foot is fully engaged with the ground.
I first learned this concept when being taught the deadlift from some top Powerlifters. They were teaching how to save your back by not thinking the weight up, but pushing the feet down. I use to have so much problem with my low back because in the past I was just focused on lifting the weight than HOW I was lifting the weight. The simple act of pushing my feet into the ground alleviated so much stress in my low back and put it in my hamstrings and glutes.
Interestingly enough, this is the SAME method in which many hip hinge exercises like kettlebell swings are taught as well. Why? Because to make these glute exercises you have to engage the feet, not focus on squeezing your glutes. Your glutes squeeze because of how your feet drive into the ground.
There is a great deal of science to this too! As podiatrist, Dr. Emily Splichel, explains, “Short foot is a long flexor exercise, as it targets the Deep Front Fascial Line, which includes the long flexors.” Below shows how our feet are connected to our core in this fascial line she described.
That’s the front side of the body though right? You can see the same happens on the rear side and actually occurs during all these connected fascial lines.
So, can we stop cuing “squeeze your glutes” and get people to “push and grab with your feet”?! This goes for all glute exercises not just the hip bridge. Doing so also solves the problem that many face in feeling these glute exercises in their low back!
The idea of the feet may not be nearly as controversial as how we load the body. We don’t put the weight upon the hips! I know torches are lit and pitchforks are ready, but let me explain. Your glutes do NOT work in isolation, we just showed that with the feet, but it doesn’t stop there. The glutes actually work with the lats and core muscles to stabilize our spine during the unstable motions of walking and running.
When people say glute exercises are good for helping one’s low back, they actually don’t know WHY that is! The REAL reason that we focus on the glutes to help low backs is to help create stronger force closure of the SI joint. This is what should be a natural chain of events that helps stabilize our SI joint during walking, running, and most activities. When the glutes and more importantly this CHAIN of muscles don’t work together to create force closure, we have a SI joint that is more unstable and susceptible to injury or causing pain.
Connecting the feet, lats, and core to our glute exercises only enhances the results we get from these drills! Watch the video above to see how we create tension by “ripping” the handles apart versus getting no engagement from the barbell.
When you understand this simple concept you realize why putting the weight upon your hips for these glute exercises doesn’t make much sense. Why do people do this? I don’t know you have to ask them, I am just explaining to you how the body works and how we use glute exercises differently in DVRT.
Before you think I am too crazy though, this technique is used in ALL standing glute exercises like deadlifts, swings, cleans, etc. The first thing that lifters are taught to do is create tension against the handle to engage the lats which connect then to the core. Weird we do this on standing glute exercises, cut not only the ground?!
Offering education on how our body works is only in an effort to help people to actually benefit from the limited time they have to train. Functional fitness isn’t an abstract concept, but a very specific means in which the body works. Shouldn’t we strive to make our bodies work as good as they look? Check out the difference DVRT Master Cory Cripe shows in some of our Hip Bridge progressions.