The glutes are arguably the most important muscle in the body. I mean sure there is the heart, but very few muscles are as critical for athletic performance, essential for preventing low back pain and demand more attention at the beach than the glutes. The butt does it all and here are three great exercises to train it.
Hill Sprints: If you’re short on time, but want the benefits that long, slow cardio provides, sprint workouts might be a perfect solution. Evidence shows that short, high intensity sprint workouts improve aerobic capacity and endurance in about half the time of traditional endurance exercise. The incline of the hill recruits more glutes, this is why sprinters tend to have toned and defined backsides.
How to: An important thing to consider with sprint training is safety. Because sprinting is a max effort dynamic exercise there is an increased risk of injury. Start slow and increase intensity over several weeks. A sample high intensity workout using sprints could look like this: after warming up for at least five minutes, sprint all out up the hill then walk down for recovery, repeat.
Deadlifts: Deadlifts are a great total body exercise, but the prime mover is the butt. Although the name may sound intimidating it is actually a movement most people do every day. The deadlift recruits many of the body’s largest muscles of the hips and legs and also challenges the core and upper body to remain stable under stress.
How to: Using a kettlebell or dumbbell stand over top of the weight. Start by bending at hips and knees to lower and grab the weight with both arms. Without allowing lower back to round, pull torso back and up, thrust hips forward, and stand up with the kettlebell or dumbbell. Squeeze glutes as you perform the movement.
Single Leg glute bridge: The single leg glute bridge can be performed almost anywhere with no equipment making it a great exercise for outside or vacation. This mostly isolation exercise allows for a strong muscle contraction; warring if done correctly expect a serious burn in your backside.
How to do it: Lie on your back with one leg bent and one leg straight. While keeping your core still press the bent leg into the ground and lift the hips and straight leg off the floor. Squeeze the glutes and avoid arching the low back. Slowly lower yourself back to the mat. Maintain control using your glutes. Repeat and switch legs.
Depending on the goal, add these exercises in addition to your workout program, or as a complete program. Generally speaking, start with the hill sprints early in the workout. Sprints require that you move fast, which is hard to do if you tired. Next, move on to the deadlift, because this exercise allows for a lot a weight to be used this should be the first strength training exercise in your program. Finally, finish off with an insolation exercise, the single leg glute bride to complete the backside improvement program. As always, consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program, and if you are unsure how to perform any exercise seek the advice of a fitness professional.
Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach who trains at Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. Crouse specializes in performance enhancement and injury prevention. Visit www.KCstrength.com for more information.