I have a few male one-on-one clients and men who take class (yup, it’s true!). Not one has strong glute muscles. Why? I can only suspect men ignore their glutes because only women want toned and lifted buns, right? False! Strong glutes are cute, sure, but they help protect the lower back and help distribute the work the leg muscles have to do to keep you upright. Weak glutes are why I see a lot of men with tight hamstrings, tight hips and lower back pain. And it’s not because these muscles are strong (common misconception), but because they are overworking them. It is important to do focused resistance training and stretching to balance the work in the glutes, and take the strain off of the overworking hips, hamstrings and knees.
Basic Breakdown of the Glutes
Gluteus Maximus: Extends and rotates the hips and legs.
Gluteus Medius: Stabilizes the pelvis and core.
Gluteus Minimus: Helps to support the hip area.
The list of dysfunctions weak glutes cause in the body are many, but lets just say, they create a domino effect that is far more detrimental to your health and well being than just a saggy bottom. Below are some exercises to help establish a strong glute connection. Done regularly, you might be surprised that some of the aches and pains you have in your back, hips and knees go away. So men, don’t be embarrassed to work that booty!
Quad Hip Extension- Start on your hands and knees with wrists directly under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Pull the core up to come into a neutral spine. Lift the right leg, keeping it bent so that the thigh is in line with the hips and the bottom of the foot is pointed toward the ceiling. Keeping the hips parallel to the floor and still, do small pulses from the glutes towards the ceiling. The shin and foot should remain still. Do three sets of 10 on each leg.
Prone Leg Lifts- Lay on your stomach with your hands placed under your forehead and legs extended behind you. Separate the legs hip distance apart and toes pointed. Keeping the hip bones pressing into the floor and abdominals pulled up to the spine, lift just the right leg about 3-5 inches off the floor without shifting the pelvis or lifting the opposite hip off the floor. The leg must remain straight and focus on lifting the leg from your where your glute and hamstring meet, and not your foot or calf. Hold for 5 seconds and switch legs. Do three sets of 10 on each leg.
Front Standing Lunge- Stand tall with your feet parallel and hip distance apart. Light weights are held for resistance. Lunge forward with your right foot as you bend the right knee. The knee should land directly over the ankle and second toe and torso is upright. The core must be pulled in to protect the back. Slowly bend the left knee and lower towards the floor without touching the floor. The knee should be in line with the second toe of the left foot. Hold for a breath and then extend the left leg and step the right foot back to meet the left. Switch legs. Repeat 5 times each leg. The added bonus to this exercise is that it reinforces proper foot and knee alignment. A twofer!
Remember after doing these exercises to stretch your hamstrings and glutes!–Jessica Kuiken