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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11-18-2014

How To Perfect Your Squat and Deadlift

Squats and deadlifts are two big exercises and are almost always featured in any good training plan. They work big muscle groups and recruit smaller muscle groups (like your core) as well. Today I wanted to talk about training cues for both of these exercises.

Training cues are what I used as a personal trainer to get my clients to do an exercise correctly. Sometimes you just need to hear someone say “chest up” to straighten out a bit. I use my own cues in my head while I’m lifting weights, just as a reminder to maintain correct form.

Correct form is so important with these two exercises. Which is why I’m going to give you a few cues for each one that you will hopefully repeat to yourself the next time you’re are the gym!

How To Squat And Deadlift With Correct Form

SQUATS

So we’re mainly going to discuss barbell squats here but some of these are applicable to any sort of squat (I’ll use an * for those that are). 

Here are the steps and cues from the moment you step up to the squat rack:

  1. Step under the barbell. Make sure it’s not too high or too low. You shouldn’t be getting onto your toes to unrack the bar.
  2. Get strong as soon as you step under the bar. Flex your core and legs, and really grip the bar hard. A cue I like from trainer Tony Gentilcore is “melt the bar with your hands.”
  3. Unrack, step back and get set. Stay flexed.
  4. Pop your hips back as if you’re sitting back into a chair*, this is the first move. You do not want to just squat down. First, move your hips back and hinge forward a bit.
  5. As you squat down, keep your shoulder blades tucked (think down and back).
  6. Also, think chest up, shoulders back*. This will help you maintain good posture and not have a rounded lower back. Really focus on keeping your lower back straight. If you feel it rounding, you have gone too low.
  7. From the bottom, think of exploding up. Chest up, shoulders back! Come up and focus on keeping your knees out*. Do not let them sag inwards. If they do, you need to decrease the weight.
  8. Pop your hips forward at the top*. Just a little bit. Almost like a hip thrust. 
  9. Repeat.

Another key thing to keep in mind is to try to keep a neutral spine throughout. You already know to keep a flat back, but don’t look up when you’re coming up from a squat. This puts a lot of strain on your neck. Try to keep your gaze forwards at all time.

If you feel like you can’t get your legs parallel to the floor, try putting small plates under your heels to elevate them. You should be able to get lower this way, and work your way up to removing the plates.

DEADLIFTS

If you’ve never done deadlifts, I highly suggest you ask a trainer at your gym to go over proper form. They’ll gladly help.

Let’s go over some cues for deadlifts. I’m going to be talking about Romanian deadlifts, but most of these work for other variations as well.

  1. Set the bar up right in front of your feet. Your feet should actually be under the bar, with the bar grazing your shins.
  2. Same as the squat, as you grab the bar, get strong! Before you even lift the bar, flex your back and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  3. Keep a neutral spine. Do not look up as you pull the bar up. Look down and keep your neck neutral throughout.
  4. Pull up with force. Remember to keep a flat back the entire time. Sometimes I’d tell clients to imagine almost arching their back (like a U shape), which would get them to flatten it. Obviously you don’t want a U shape, but thinking of that arch helps some people get their back to be flat as opposed to rounded. You should not have a rounded back.
  5. Once you get to the top, pop your hips forward and squeeze your glutes. Then slowly lower the bar, grazing your shins, and keeping your shoulders and back tight the whole time. The bar should be very close to your shins because if you have it out in front of you, that’s a lot of stress on your lower back.
  6. Lower the bar fully and repeat.

This is as much a back exercise as it is a hamstring and glute exercise. The pulling motion engages your lats, which is why it’s important to squeeze your shoulder blades and keep your back muscles tight throughout, as opposed to just letting your arms hang. This same cue actually goes for dumbbell or barbell rows too. Next time you do them, flex your back/shoulder blades first and keep them flexed throughout, as opposed to just letting your arms hang and then rowing. You’ll notice a difference.

And as always, as with any exercise, use your core! Both of these will work your core. I’ve had sore abs before from squats and deadlifts. Make sure to brace your core as you go through each exercise.

I feel like I’m forgetting some stuff but hopefully this is a good starting point. If you only remember one cue make it this one: chest up shoulders back! This pretty much goes for any exercise and will help you use your core, keep a straight back, and flex your shoulders.

Do you like doing squats and deadlifts? Do you prefer barbells or dumbbells?

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02-17-2014

Top Glute Exercises

Ever look at a word for too long and then it just looks weird? That’s how I feel about “Glute” right now :-P

I posted a new video to my YouTube channel today! How To: Weighted Hip Raises.

Hip raises/hip thrusts are a great way to target your glutes and hamstrings. You can do them bodyweight or with weights. I usually do bodyweight hip raises as a warm-up before lifting. I do 10 hip raises, then 5 single leg hip raises on each side.

If you want more of a challenge, that’s where this video comes in. Adding weight will help you feel the burn, and tone your butt and hamstrings ;)

Here are a few of my other favorite butt toning exercises – you will definitely feel it the day after doing these!

Dumbbell Deadlift

Walking Lunges

Kettlebell Squats

Leg Press

If I were to combine these into a workout, I’d suggest the following:

3-4 sets, 12-15 reps of each exercise

Kettlebell squat

Dumbbell deadlift

Leg press

Weighted hip-raise

Walking lunges

Let me know if you try out the hip raises or this lower body workout!

Which of these do you regularly incorporate into your routine?

Which do you want to try?

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11-18-2013

Motivational Monday!

Can you believe next Thursday is Thanksgiving? Who else loves Thanksgiving??

So today instead of a motivational quote, I thought I’d start Monday off with some humor. A few of my guy friends and I were talking this weekend and they told me how when they go to the gym they mainly do chest, back and arms. I was like whaaaaat?! So that’s what inspired this:

1473009_756479717701898_217128374_n

I saw this on Instagram and immediately sent it to them. The caption was, “Don’t skip leg day!” I love it. :)

1) Do you ever skip leg day, or do you love leg day?

2) Favorite Thanksgiving dish? I need some ideas for this year!

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