Glutes - the powerhouse for the lower body. They provide stability, better posture, enhance performance and prevent injuries when they are functioning properly and doing the job they are supposed to be doing. Here's a brief explanation of why having strong glutes is important and 5 exercises that will build glute strength.
In terms of stability - your glutes keep the pelvis (hip) in its proper position and alignment. Think of your glutes as an important part of a foundation. If a piece of a foundation is loose or weak the walls around it will tilt or sway. It's the same thing in the body.
For many of us this "foundation" is weak due to lots of sitting and/or driving. Or maybe the gluteal muscles are underactive due to tight hip flexors. Either way, we need to purposely train them and "build" them up to be strong to do the work they should be doing. If the glutes aren't doing their job then it could lead to low back pain and/or lower extremity issues (hip, knee, ankle, etc.). On top of this, your body will find another way to get the job done to compensate, which leads to improper movement patterns. Improper movement patterns leads to further problems/injuries... so you can see the vicious cycle, right?
Performance - glutes play an important role for functionality and performance - in training, sports and daily life. Greater gluteal strength leads to better running, landing, squat mechanics, improved movement quality, just to name a few.
So now you see the importance of building our strength in these gluteal muscles so they are able to do the work they should. This in turn will lead to relieving any pain from compensating movements and improving performance - allowing you to reach your goals faster, move better and avoid injury.
They key is to not skip any steps in building this strong, stable foundation. There are many steps to do this, including relaxing overactive muscles, lengthening tight muscles and activating the weaker muscles (in this case, the glutes.)
For now, we will just focus on 5 simple exercises to strengthen the glute muscles. If you'd like more in depth training and corrective exercises, please feel free to reach out at www.yogawithmissy.com/personal-sessions.
Here are my 5 favorite glute strengthening exercises:
The first 3 exercises focus on the lateral part of the hip and the last 2 are to strengthen the posterior hip. Videos of these exercises can be found in my Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/yogawithmissy
Side to Side Band Walks:
With a band (around your thighs, just above the knees or around your shins), take a squat position and take steps from one side of your mat to the other. Keep the band tight and your steps slow and controlled. Hips should be level and should not teeter as you walk. Start with 2 passes and see how that feels and then slowly add on as you build strength.
Clam Shells with Band Resistance:
Keeping the hips pointing straight ahead as you lift the top knee up feeling the glute muscles squeeze to do the work. Feet stay together and on floor. 10x each side.
Side Plank Series:
Leg Lifts: From this variation of side plank, lower to tap the foot to the floor and raise the leg up just in line with your torso. Repeat 10x.
Pulses: Keep the leg raised and do little pulses up for a count of 10
Circles forward: Keep the leg raised at hip height and imagine drawing little circles forward for a count of 10
Circles back: Keep the leg raised at hip height and draw little circles backwards for a count of 10
Repeat the whole series on the other side.
1 Leg Bridge: From 2 legged bridge pose, raise one leg up and straighten it towards the ceiling. Keep pressing into the standing foot using the glute and hamstring and keep the hips level. Lower the lifted/straight leg with control, until it is in line with the other thigh and then raise the leg back up towards the ceiling. Repeat 10x.
Same thing, other side.
Glute Presses: press into both feet evenly, keep the knees driving forward. Lower the hips about half way and press them back up - only lifting them up until the shoulders hips and knees are in one long diagonal line.
As always, this is just my own opinion based off of my experience and knowledge at this time. There's always more to learn and consider - not all exercises work for everyone so please honor and respect YOUR body and your level of training and do what is best for you.
Which one of these is your favorite?