After 15 years of doing the same thing it is easy to get burned out and frustrated by how slow change happens. While that is definitely possible and at times I’ve been a bit prone to those challenges, I try to focus on the fact that things are changing in the fitness industry, even if it is VERY slow. A great example is how we are getting people to understand the training of the glutes in better ways.
Glutes are such a big part on the discussion of fitness because there are so many reasons we should want strong glutes. Helping our knees, low backs, even shoulders are reasons that building up functional strength of the glutes should be a priority. However, not shocking, when one coach asked his online group why they train their glutes the overwhelming answer was to look better.
I don’t think that is a bad goal, heck, most of us train to look better as well as feel and perform better. The issue arises when we focus on just cosmetics due to how we then approach the training of the glutes. Instantly people want to abandon functional training concepts because the idea is that isolating a muscle is still the best way to get it to look better.
Listen, I’m not going to tell you that such a strategy doesn’t work, the REAL question to me is can we achieve both?! Training isolation implies that training in a more integrated manner will get you moving and performing better, but not looking better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve head coaches say things to me like, “Oh today is my functional workout day and tomorrow will be my strength, and then I’ll some isolated training.”
Throwing everything into a pot and hoping it tastes good usually doesn’t work. That is because we want our training to create synergy, not contradict itself. So, the MOST important answer is “does functional training actually make me look better?” That’s a tough one!
Why? Well, no research study exists to compare functional training to other forms of exercise in fat loss, muscle gain, etc. Therefore, we are left to make educated guesses and look to the past to give us some answers.
Real Bodybuilding Was Functional Training
Most people don’t realize that originally bodybuilding was far more holistic. It was originally called physical culture because people in the 1800’s realized that building the physical was part of building the whole person (this was actually an ancient Greek idea). Physical education was once seen as important as any other discipline.
The first bodybuilders performed a wide array of training (way before Crossfit was a thing) from gymnastics, wrestling, and strength training that would look “silly” too many. That is because they weren’t looking to isolate the body for most of their training as they realized that the body was a whole, not a bunch of parts thrown together.
As you can see from hundreds of pictures online, the physiques of many these individuals are results the great majority of us would love to have to this day! So, while I can’t say that functional training is better at producing muscle gain than bodybuilding, I can say that it does a pretty darn good job!
A More Educated Approach
While the research is lacking, let me pose a question….
If I said I was going to build a fast car, what I was going to do is construct it to optimally function, do you think that would be a powerful, effective, fast car? I use that to parallel the body a bit.
Making an educated guess here from basic logic, if I train the body as it is designed to function, won’t it get better in all sorts of ways versus going against how the body would prefer to work?
With that in mind let’s look at some keys in getting those glutes to work and look their best!
Feet and Lats
When it comes to building better glutes and even core strength, we have to start at places most never think about. That is the feet and the lats! I know, weird right? I mean if we want better glutes don’t we just focus on those glutes? Makes sense until we realize an important factor….the glutes aren’t designed to work by themselves.
The glutes work as a function of what other areas of our body do and the connections they make with other muscles. It all starts with the feet because force comes from the ground up. While most people don’t think about it, the glutes are also strong postural muscles and that is the reason our glutes are proportionally bigger than apes. Being upright requires muscles to hold us upright and glutes play a big role in that ability.
However, the glutes are responding to what is happening below, so we need drills that teach us to use our feet first and foremost!
The feet are important from the bottom up, but the lats are equally important from the top down. While most never see the lats in this way, but they are VERY essential core stability muscles. If we look at better anatomy pictures we see how the lats are huge, connected to the pelvis, and connect to the opposite glute by what is known as the thoracolumbar fascia.
That means if we want the glutes to be strong and be trained smarter, we have to get the lats working too. How do we do that? The tension we create against the Ultimate Sandbag is ALL about that! Jessica and Megan Berner show you how we use these ideas in two different key environments for the glutes….
Once we establish these connections, where do we go with them? Sure, adding more weight can work, but we have more and even better strategies to get your glutes to work better. That is because your glutes are designed to both produce AND resist force at the same time. This explains their diagonal design versus being more up and down.
Jessica shows through manipulating our direction during our Front Loaded Goodmornings how we apply these concepts and DVRT UK Master, Greg Perlaki demonstrates advanced hip bridge progressions that blend connection and training of the glutes that will make you see functional training VERY differently!
These aren’t “tricks” and if you ask why don’t MORE people train the glutes this way the answer lies in the fact most don’t look at how our body was designed to work, they just look through very small lenses. When you look at the structure and design of our body you see smarter training becomes so much more clear!
That is the reason we created our L.I.F.T. program. Right now you can pick up individual modules of L.I.F.T. for 30% off like our Hip Hinge module where we go through these concepts and progressions in detail. Use code “lift1” HERE
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