Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Max(imus) Strengthening

So many reasons to strengthen and firm the glutes...they are a large, hard working muscle group helping you get up from your chair, walk, go up stairs or climb mountains. Strong glutes and hips can help in the prevention of back pain with good balanced muscular structure helping with core stability. And so many people aspire to firm their butt simply to look good in a pair of jeans! And remember building lean muscle tissue in large muscle groups such as the glutes equals more calories burned even while you sit on them!
The glutes include the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus; the maximus usually the main focus of an exercise program as this is the most visible and largest but all 3 should be included for good function and shape.

Your Glutes exercise program: (  Exercise Log )
  • Squats, leg press:  Higher foot position on the plate of the leg press focuses efforts more on the glutes. Wider and externally rotated stance will place more efforts on the hip rotators and inner thighs (bonus!)
  • Lunges: usually a love/hate relationship...Focus on long step into lunge postion to again focus more efforts on the glutes vs. quads.
  • Step ups : higher step activates more glutes, be sure to use a slow and controlled movement on the way up and down.
  • Bridges: so many variations including use of a therapy ball under back or legs, my favorite way to ramp up the burn is to add a elastic band around my knees to add an isometric hip abduction throughout the reps to include more glute medius activity.
  • Don't underestimate the benefits of some of the basics...include sidelying hip abduction leg raises, sidelying "clam shell" to target glute medius, minimus and deeper piriformis, and quadruped hip extension for some maximus.
  • Deadlift variations are also a good component to include for glutes but may not be best for a beginner without proper one-on-one instruction for proper form to avoid injury.
  • For even more exercises, Oxygen Magazine publishes a collector's issue dedicated to glute training with some great exercises and information. Check Glutes Summer 2010.

Other points not to be forgotten in our attempts to burn calories and firm figures...stretching needs to be a part of any exercise program to ensure good flexibility and mobility for proper mechanics of joint structures. Some key stretches for the glute/hip area include a hamstring stretch, piriformis (figure 4) stretch and ITBand stretch.  All stretches should be performed in a slow and controlled manner with steady stretch held for at least 30 seconds per stretch.

And remember to continue to follow a heathly eating plan with clean foods to make faster progress towards your goals. You can't expect all your hard work exercising to make up for a bad diet!

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