REBOOT YOUR GLUTES
Modern life is sending your butt muscles to sleep!Here’s how to wake them up for better body results.
You may not know it, but we Brits are in the midst of a weak butt epidemic. Modern living- sitting at a desk, sitting on a train, sitting on the couch – is leaving us with inactive glute muscles that are literally a pain in the backside. ‘Modern lifestyles are very sedentary – sitting at a desk, driving instead of walking, and sitting in front of the TV,’ says Jim Crossley, co-founder of F45 Kingston (f45 training.co.uk). ‘Sitting for long periods of time like this sends your glutes to sleep and over stretches the muscles, and this leads to adjacent muscles becoming active to compensate.’ It’s such a widespread problem, in fact, that experts have even coined it the ‘Sleepy Butt Syndrome’.Why should you be concerned?
Because the glute muscles are the largest muscle group in the body. Made up of the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus, the trio of muscles work together to aid a plethora of movement. The gluteus maximus, which makes up the bulk of the buttocks, controls your hips. You need it to kick your leg out to the side or to extend it behind you, for instance. The gluteus medius and minimus, located under the gluteus maximus, aid this movement and help keep your pelvis in line. And if they’re not firing correctly, other muscles will overcompensate. ‘If a group of muscles is “under firing” and weak, there’s usually another set of muscles that are picking up the slack,’ says Gideon Remfry, KX health and fitness manager (kxlife.co. uk). ‘In the case of underactive glutes, it tends to be the quads that compensate.
5 Best Butt Exercises You Can Do Right Before Bed Photo Gallery
X PAIN CONTROL
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you’ll simply end up with shapely thighs – it’s far more likely that your body will be left feeling sore. ‘A lot of back pain is actually caused by having a sleepy backside,’ reveals Dr Rangan Chatterjee in his new book The 4 Pillars Plan (Penguin Life Thanks, £12.99), ‘Our buttock muscles not only help hold our skeleton up, they also play a critical role in the functioning of our biomechanics.’ In fact, Dr Chatterjee is quick to point out that our glutes are connected to a whole chain of other muscles, from the shoulders to the feet. ‘If they’re not firing appropriately, that puts stress on other parts of the body.’It’s not just sedentary folk that should be worried, either. Fitness fanatics are among those with underdeveloped glutes. Sure, you might squat every week – but how do you know you’re doing the move correctly? ‘I see a lot of clients who have weak glutes and sub-optimal technique when doing moves such as squats and lunges,’ says Remfry. ‘These are excellent [and butt- toning] moves but, when dynamic moves are performed under load with inactive glute muscles, it’s a recipe for creating muscular imbalance. Instead of engaging the glutes, these moves are then managed by the front of the thighs (quads) and the lower back.’
X REWIRE TO FIRE
So, how can you switch on your derriere? Firstly, the muscle control must begin with brain-to-muscle fibre communication (also known as ‘neuromuscular adaptation’). ‘All movement starts in the brain,’ says Nahid De Belgeonne, founder of Good Vibes yoga (good vibes fitness.co.uk). ‘If you can’t sense a muscle fully, we call it “sensory motor amnesia” and, to gain control, you need to reboot the brain-to- body communication.’ In other words, you must consciously think about engaging the glutes when performing exercises that require them. Read on to discover a few nifty ways to wake up your sleepy behind.
It’s not all about how much you exercise. What you do when you don’t work out counts, too – and data shows that most people spend an average of eight to 10 hours parked on their backside each day. ‘The postural impact of sitting directly impacts our buttsl’ says Remfry. ‘It can shorten our hip flexors and stretch the glute muscles, which, in turn, switches off the all-important core muscles.’ Aim to spend less time sitting each day – stand up on the train, walk to work, bypass that Netflix marathon – you won’t regret it
One of the purposes of a warm-up is to enhance muscle engagement by boosting brain-to-muscle communication, readying the body for the workout that’s ahead. Before doing any sort of glute exercises, get your glutes firing with some activation moves (see box below). ‘Glute activation modes are specific warm-up movements that aim to wake up the glute muscles and invite them to engage,’ explains Remfry. This makes for a far more efficient workout.
Glute training is pointless if you can’t perform the moves properly. Poor hip mobility can prevent you from being able to achieve optimal squat technique, for example. Do mobility moves such as hip openers, and foam-roll the entire glute area, to increase your range of movement before doing a booty-boosting workout.
Our panel of experts swears by doing the following moves to wake up the glutes. Try to spend a few minutes doing these moves before your next full- or lower-body workout. Do 15-20 reps for each.
Monster walk: Strap a resistance band around your thighs and lower into a half squat, then walk side to side with little steps. You should feel your glutes burning, which will prime them for exercise.
Glute bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and your arms by your sides, palms facing down.Squeeze your bottom and raise your hips. Pause for two seconds before lowering.
Kickback: Start on all fours with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Kick back and up with your left leg, until you feel a squeeze in your glutes. Lower and repeat, then swap legs.
Drop lunge: Start in a lunge with your right leg fully extended backwards, hips low and fingers on the floor. Push up to standing on your left foot. Drop back into the lunge. Swap sides.