Strengthening our glutes is a pretty popular topic right now. We all would prefer to have a nice tight toned tush over a couple of pancakes right? But equally important is the role strong glutes play in maintaining our posture, eliminating back pain, and allowing us to function at our best as we age.
Our core musculature is made up of our abdominal muscles, supporting spinal erector muscles, and our glutes.
Did you know that 3 different muscles comprise the glutes, and that the gluteus maximus (primary glute muscle) is the largest muscle in the body?
But did you know that many of us who are frequently working those muscles with the best glute exercises (squats, lunges & deadlifts)are not seeing much improvement?!
I recently had a conversation with my massage therapist Stephanie Le Clair, RMT who was able to explain why this is happening to so many people- and more importantly what we can do about it!
Her biggest reason why? Glute activation. Our bodies may not understand what it is we’re trying to do when we begin these exercises. Here are a couple common reasons are glutes aren’t engaging that Stephanie Le Clair, RMT has shared with us today.
Why aren’t our glutes engaging?
- The #1 reason is that our generation has become more and more sedentary. We often sit more hours in a day than we stand. Office jobs, where we sit for long periods of time, long commutes in cars, or too much watching t.v. , even for those of us that consistently work out, all contribute to glute inactivity. It’s the “use it or lose it” concept.
- The second reason for this is linked to the first. When we “lose it” because we don’t “use it,” other nearby muscle groups tend to overcompensate for our lazy glutes. This allows the glutes to sleep peacefully, so that when we go to do an exercise that SHOULD strengthen them, the surrounding muscles jump in and take over. This often causes pain, discomfort, even injury to those muscle groups because they aren’t meant to do the work that the glutes should be doing.
So what can we do?
- It’s important to “wake up” your glutes before you actually start your workout. They need to activate by doing some simple warm-up exercises that sends a message from the brain to your glutes that says “we have some serious work ahead of us.” Practicing this targeted Pilates glute routine as a warm up will help wake them up or it is a perfect place to begin strengthening your glutes if you are just starting out!
- Mix up your training routine. Depending on the day—focus on high-volume/lower weight, or low-volume/heavier weight, add in some isometric holds, and switch up the tempos of both eccentric and concentric contractions. All of these different variations help challenge your glutes to keep growing.
- Include compound exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts and step ups. Vary the equipment by using bands, weights and balls and your muscles will be stimulated to continue growing stronger.
- Schedule an appointment with a Registered Massage Therapist who can help you with a treatment plan to both strengthen and stretch those glutes! You can contact our local RMT HERE.
Remember that the right nutrition and proper balance of your macronutrients is key in any fitness program, and applying these concepts consistently will make a difference!
If you are not sure of how you should be eating for your fitness goals, my one on one training packages include a personal meal plan and workouts to get you started in the right direction.