Aside from the aesthetic goal of having a well-toned booty, your glutes are an important muscle group that help support your back, hips, core, hamstrings and pelvis!
Made up of three muscles, your glutes contain:
1. Gluteus Maximus
2. Gluteus Medius
3. Gluteus Minimus
You could take a guess, and you’d most likely be correct — Your Glute Max is the biggest, most superficial muscle in the gluteal family, with Medius appearing underneath and Minimus being the little (yet very important) muscle at a deeper level.
In today’s society, many of us spend our workday in front of a computer, which unless you are lucky to have a standing desk, means you spend a great deal of time sitting down. Alongside general stiffness and the effects of poor posture, this encourages your glutes to switch off. Now, everyone deserves the chance to relax from time to time, but this constant ‘switching off’ also results in a decreased ability to ‘switch on’, which means your glute work out at the gym could be in vain.
How do I activate my glutes?
Activation occurs when you correctly warm up the muscle and allow it to ‘fire’ correctly. The best way to accomplish this is to use bodyweight or a TheraBand and focus on exercises that concentrate on the glutes, focusing on form, switching on the muscle group and feeling the muscles contract properly before moving onto more complex, or aerobic exercises.
Here are five exercises you can incorporate into your exercise regime to encourage gluteal activation and build a booty that Beyoncé would be proud of (we can dream, right?)
Your gym ‘staple’ and for good reason. Begin with your feet hip-width apart and ensure that your knees bend in the direction of your toes as you urge your booty back (as if you’re sitting onto a chair behind you). Get our therapists to check your form during your next appointment, because once you’re squatting correctly, you will gain much more out of the exercise.
Lying on your back with your knees bent (again, hip-width apart), plant your feet down on the ground, not too far from your glutes. Place your arms by your sides and as you exhale, push your feet firmly down into the floor, contract your glutes and raise your hips into the air. Make sure you are squeezing your glutes at the top (and not compressing your neck), using your arms for support if required.
3. Donkey Kicks:
Find a neutral, four-point-kneel position. Engage your core and whilst keeping the 90-degree bend in both knees, sweep one leg back and reach your heel to the ceiling. Complete a set of these on each leg. It is important during this exercise that you don’t relax into your lower back and hyperextend. You want to keep a strong, supported spine and let the movement start and finish with the strength in your glutes. If there is any confusion, chat to our therapists during your next appointment.
4. Reverse Lunges:
Start this exercise in a standing position. Instead of stepping forward into a standard lunge, place one toe behind you (a large stride-distance) and bend both knees until you achieve two 90-degree angles. Once you find this position, power down with your front foot, squeeze your supporting glute and bring the back foot back into the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
5. Hip Extensions:
Using a TheraBand, tie one end to a stationary (and stable) object and the other to your ankle. Keeping two straight legs, level hips and a tall position through your torso, sweep your TheraBand leg behind you until you feel your glute activate. Like donkey kicks, your lower back must be supported during hip extensions. If you notice your body arching the lower back or relying too much on the back during this exercise, confirm your form with our therapistsbefore continuing.
When embarking on any new exercise regime always be sure to check your form and discuss the plan with a professional. Whether it is a Personal Trainer, a Physiotherapist or a trained Pilates Instructor, their understanding of movement and the impact it can have on your body can help you achieve your goals — and lucky for you, our therapists are all three!
Contact Invictus to schedule an appointment to discuss your exercise or rehabilitation program today, on 0449 986 070