One thing that always gets my attention when I’m training at gyms around the country is when I hear trainers unnecessarily screaming at their clients “switch on that core!” or “fire up those glutes!”. If I had to guess, I would suggest most of them don’t even know what they are talking about.
So, let’s start with the glutes. We as a society spend so much time sitting and as a result, most of us have an inability to activate our glutes properly. Therefore, when we jump into a workout of squats, lunges and other exercises designed to strengthen our glutes we, unfortunately, are not getting a proper or full contraction in this area. This leads to muscle imbalance, overall weakness, back pain and more. With this in mind, here are four exercises to activate your glutes before a proper workout:
- Single leg glute bridge (20 each side)
- Fire hydrants (20 each side)
- Resistance band lateral crab walk (20 each side)
- Side plank (30 seconds each side)
I am not talking about those six-pack muscles so many of us first think of. It is the underlying abdominal muscles, the transverse abdominis (or TA) that is the muscle you really need to focus on. This will help with posture, pain relief, injury prevention and more efficient movement. Here are some simple moves to activate your deep core muscles:
- Cat-Cow pose (slow and controlled for 60 seconds)
- Slow and controlled toe taps (keep your lower back flat into the floor – 30 reps)
- Strict plank with glutes squeezed and belly button drawn in (hold for as long as you can)
These exercises are not sexy. Often because the activation is in a smaller muscle group and very deep, it doesn’t feel the same as a lunge or a squat. However, I can’t stress enough how important these muscle groups and these exercises are. As I say to my clients, there is no point doing a wonderful renovation on a weak foundation. Our glutes and our deep core muscles are the foundation of what we should build upon.
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