06-27-2016

Glute Strengthening Exercises Pt. 2

Now that marathon training has started, I really need to make sure to work on my glutes, especially my glute medius. I wrote a previous post (that somehow blew up on Pinterest) on strengthening your glute medius (and why it’s important).

Today I wanted to talk about some of my favorite glute exercises. I haven’t been strength training much, mainly because I have been balancing running, cycling and yoga. But I need to get back into the gym this week.

Your glutes are your powerhouse. When you’re running, you need strong glutes to push off the ground and give you, well, power. It’s not uncommon at all for runners, and most people in general, to have weak glutes from sitting all day and not really activating them. So here are a few exercises you can start incorporating into your routine. Plus, you can do them anywhere, either bodyweight or with dumbbells. So add a few reps and sets in after your runs and you’ll be on your way to buns of steel.

Here are my top 5 exercises to strengthen and grow your glutes! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Step-Ups

These are so easy to do anywhere! If you’re out for a run, you can find a park bench or table to use. If you’re at home, you can use a chair or your stairs. You want to make sure your form is right with these, and that you’re not using your back leg to bounce you up onto the step. Your back leg should stay completely straight, and you should focus on using your front let (the one on the box) to push you up. Here’s an example of someone using that back leg to power them up (which means your front leg and glute are working less):

It might take a little practice, which is why it’s good to start off with your bodyweight only, and then progress to adding dumbells. Here’s an excellent tutorial video:

Walking Lunges

Another one that can be done anywhere, with or without weights. If you have knee issues or knee pain, you may want to stay away from walking lunges. You can do do split squats (stationary lunge) or reverse lunges instead. You can also switch those up by elevating your front foot. Lots of options here.

With walking lunges, take a step forward and really focus on keeping your chest up and shoulders back. Lower your knee as low as it can go, and then switch. Do not force yourself to go lower than what is comfortable. You also want to make sure that your heel on the foot that is stepping forward is planted on the ground. If you step forward and your heel is up or you’re on the balls of your feet, it means you’re not taking big enough steps.

Hip Raises

Hip raises are probably my favorite exercise, mainly because I can lie down while doing it :-P

Did you know hip raises are more effective at growing your glutes than squats are? Start off with just body weight hip raises. Lay on your back with bent knees. Plant your feet and lift your hips up as high as you can. Squeeze your glutes as you lift and really focus on utilizing those muscles. You may feel this in your hamstrings and calves too. Hold at the top for about 2-3 seconds, lower and repeat. In order to see if you’re using your glutes and not your hip flexors, try doing a single leg hip raise with one knee bent. What I mean is, take one knee to your chest and hold it there with your arms. THEN, do a hip raise. You should really feel that in your glute. Once you get the hang of it, you can add a weighted plate or barbell on top of your hips in order to make the move more challenging. 

Bulgarian Split Squats

This is a more advanced exercise, and a variation on lunges. You can work up to this by doing reverse lunges with your back foot elevated on a small box or step. Eventually, you’ll be able to do it with your back foot on a bench. Here’s what it looks like (including good cues and common mistakes):

Remember to always keep your chest up and shoulders back. You don’t need to lower yourself all the way down if you can’t. Go until you can, and then come back up. Work your way lower and lower over time.

Back extensions

You will need a back extension machine for this one, or you can get creative and use the end of your couch or bed. I’ll show an example after I explain.

Doing back extensions on an incline back extension machine will target your hamstrings and glutes, maybe your calves too if they’re a little weak. If your lower back is weak, you’ll feel it in those muscles as well. Lower down all the way, then squeeze your glutes to lift yourself up. Be careful not to hyper-extend. See how he is in a straight line?

Photo source

If you want to add weight, hold a weighted plate to your chest to make it more challenging.

Start incorporating these exercises into your routine and not only will you have stronger glutes, you’ll be helping your body stay injury free. Writing this just motivated me to get my butt to the gym this week. Another thing I need to work on ASAP is my core strength. Please leave me your favorite core workouts below because core is my least favorite thing to do haha.

What is your favorite glute exercise? How often do you train your legs/glutes?

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10-28-2015

5 Glute Exercises To Add To Your Workout

My glute strengthening workout post is one of my most popular posts on my blog and Pinterest, so I figured I would do a follow up and talk more about my favorite glute exercises.

While squats DO target your glute muscles, there are many other exercises that work them as much, if not more. Also, doing a proper barbell squat is challenging, and if you do not have correct form you are risking injury. I’ve seen many people load up the bar with a ton of weight, yet do not have the right form for it. Here are some of my tips for working on your squat form.

Anyway, let’s go through 5 exercises where you will definitely feel the burn!

Add these glute exercises into your workout routine to work that booty!

Hip Raises

There are so many ways to do these, that I guess this list actually won’t be 5 exercises ;)

If you’re just starting out, I suggest doing bodyweight hip raises. Lay on your back, lift your butt and hips up, squeeze your glutes and pause for a second, then lower. To make it more challenging, put your feeet on a bosu ball. To make it even MORE challenging, place your feet on a Swiss ball. I’ll show you that variation here:

swiss-ball-leg-curl

When doing the exercise, really focus on squeezing your glutes and raising your hips as high as you can. You should feel this in your hamstrings and glutes.

Once you feel like you’re ready to add weight, you can do weighted hip raises with a barbell across your lap. I do these laying on the floor, but you can also do them with your shoulders on a bench (shown below):

barbell_hip_thrust-the-30-best-legs-exercises-of-all-timeSource

I’m telling you, you will feel this in your hammies and glutes!

TRX Single Leg Squat

I am not yet able to do a single leg squat/pistol squat on my own, so I use a TRX. Trust me, you will still feel it the next day. The TRX stabilizes you until you’re able to do a single leg squat on your own. By using it, you’ll also get the added bonus of a little arm workout ;) Here’s how to do it:

TRX_SingleLegSquat_734x1000Source

As always, make sure to keep your chest up and shoulders back throughout the exericse. If you need one cue that is good for any exercise, it’s that one. Chest up, shoulders back.

Banded Walks

I talked about this in my previous glute strength post, but banded walks are a great way to target your sometimes neglected Glute Medius. It looks easy but it is not. I remember my personal training clients hating this exercise. I should actually do it more often because it is really important for runners to have a strong, stable Glute Medius, which helps with hip strength.

Front Foot Elevated Split Squat

This exercise will target more of your quad than glute, but you’ll still activate glutes as well. It’s a great way to make the normal split squat more challenging, and works on your stabilizer muscles as well.

Keeping your chest up and shoulders back, you’ll lower yourself down as low as you can, then come up. Your front foot wil be up on a step or small box.

Dumbbell_Box_Split_SquatSource

Bulgarian Split Squats

These are my nemesis. I have a love/hate relationship with them. They are so challenging and I get so sore the next day…yet you know that means you’re getting stronger.

This exercise is the opposite of the front foot elevated. In this one, your back foot is elevated on a bench. If you don’t think you’re ready for this yet, you can do a rear foot elevated split squat first, where your rear foot is elevated on a small step or box (like the image above).

With Bulgarians, you have to make sure your knees are tracking in the right direction, and that your knee doesn’t go over your toes. You should be lowering yourself straigth down. It might take a few tries and adjustments to figure out the right position for you. Once you do figure it out, place a towel or water bottle where your foot was so you can easily get back into position after your rest.

I recommend starting off with just bodyweight, and working up to adding weights. This one really targets those glutes and is also another great exericse for runners!

Split-SquatSource

The photo source for the image above is actually a link for “7 benefits of the Bulgarian split squat,” so you should check it out! Here’s one of their 7 reasons:

If you want to end up having a booty like the famous J.Lo, you better stop neglecting the Bulgarian split squat right away. It’s the best exercise to lift your butt.

Want to make these into a workout? I recommend splitting it up into separate days. Also, make sure you pair glute/hamstring dominant exericses with quad dominant exercises. For example, here’s a workout with some of the above exercises:

  • A1: Hip raises on Swiss Ball
  • A2: Front foot elevated split squat
  • B1: Banded walks
  • B2: TRX singl leg squat
  • Continue with other exercises (arms, abs, etc.)

Which of these do you regularly include into your routine?

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