Butt Stuff! Engaging your Glutes!
Holy cow that is so inappropriate…. right!
If you are not using your glutes well, you’re leaving a lot of weight on the table. I.e.; If your glutes are not strong, you’re limiting yourself. You’re going to use your glutes in all your lifts. All of them.
Even bench. Yes, bench!!!
If you don’t have leg drive in the bench you won’t be able to lift that weight you want to lift off your chest.
Glutes are a piece to the puzzle that is generally left out.
Strong engaged glutes are just as much important in real life as they are in the gym. They might be even more important in real life, because if you are using your glutes well, determines how your lower back is going to feel.
I heard this quote the other day on a podcast I listen to called “Bare Naked Health” and its truth hit me hard:
“3 things we are designed to do; stand, walk, squat.“
Standing Glute Function
A proper way to stand would be with glutes engaged. This is not something most of us think about because we think of standing as passive. If your glutes don’t properly support you when you stand, you will have poor posture and weak abs, which leads to back pain, knee pain, even shoulder pain.
Walking Glute Function
Glutes stabilize how you walk and play a huge role in propelling us forward if we engage them properly. When you walk, how you use your glutes even determines your foot placement and stride. Considering how much we walk per day, this is important!
If you aren’t using your glutes well when you walk, you use quads, low back and calves more. This compensatory pattern leads to poor posture, back pain, and fatigue.
Squatting Glute Function
Squatting in this situation refers to our everyday squat movements, such as sitting on the couch, getting out of your car, picking up dog toys off the floor, and walking up stairs. If you don’t engage your glutes during these squat movements and their real-life variations, you will again compensate by using your low back and other muscles that don’t function as well in that capacity, and you are more likely to injure yourself.
Combine these poor movements with many of our sedentary lifestyles, and we have a recipe for exhaustion, fatigue, and pain.
Now let’s apply this framework to the things that matter: your lifts!
Glutes in the Squat
When glutes properly function in a squat, you’ll move through the lift stable, smoother, and faster.
Your glutes will help you move out of the hole faster.
If you aren’t using your glutes when you squat, you’ll end up relying on your low back and quads (mainly) to lift yourself up. This will cause you to fall forward on your toes, risking injury and missing the lift.
Glutes pull this together for strength and stability needed to lift the weight.
Glutes in the Deadlift
Like the squat, if you aren’t deliberately using your glutes, you will most likely use your lower back. Your hips will shoot up in the air and you tend to be front loaded. Now, your lower back does function to help you during the deadlift; however, your low back is not intended to function as your prime mover. You’ll feel stable and more powerful during the bottom of the lift, all the way through completion. In the entirety of the lift you’ll lift more weight if you incorporate your glutes.
Glutes in the Bench Press
This one is a thinker. You might wonder how your
Glutes bring the lower half of your body into the lift. If you don’t use your glutes during the bench, your leg drive will not be as efficient through the press.
If you do use your glutes,
-more leg drive
In turn, your total goes up.
How to Make Your Glutes Stronger
Here are some exercises to strengthen your glutes- I’m including videos with them as well;
Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms hanging at your sides. Lower your butt down to your deepest depth that you can keep your chest up/lower back engaged, and knees driving out over your heels, (depending on your flexibility your knees will either be over your heels, mid-foot or toes. But never past your toes). When you hit your deepest depth, drive through your heels, squeeze your butt cheeks together like your trying to hold a penny between them and drive the hip over your knees while squeezing those quads to keep you from hyper extending. You should stay firm from shoulders to toes from the minute you start your squat until you reach the top again.
Lay flat on the floor, bend your knees to about 90 degrees, and make sure your feet are flat on the floor. You can also elevate your upper-back up on a bench, and to help your balance you can stretch your arms out to each side. Squeeze your glutes (butt muscles), drive your hips to the ceiling, and hold for 1 to 2 seconds. It’s very important that you don’t hyper-extend your lower back at the top, so make sure you keep those abdominal's engaged.
Banded Hip Thrusters
These are pretty much the same thing as regular hip thrusters, but now you are adding resistance bands to the exercise. You can put a dumbbell on each side of your hips on the floor, then connect a band that will sit on your hips, if you don't have pins to hold the bands. Bend your knees to about 90 degrees, and make sure your feet are flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes (butt muscles), drive your hips to the ceiling, and hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
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