Warning! In reading this post, one may obtain strong, lifesaving glutes, and a toned tush. This post is for ALL AGES.
In this business, your phone starts blowing up during different phases of your life. In my 30s, the weekend warrior friends called frequently about sports injuries. For example, my college bestie was playing soccer and headed the ball during a weekend adult tournament. As a baby 32-year-old she was out of commission for weeks with neck dysfunction.
But this decade is different. In my 40s, I get Instagram and Facebook messages, texts, emails, and phone calls all asking the same thing: “What exercises will improve my mobility and physical/mental function?” and “What tailored exercises should I do every day to improve my overall quality of life?”
People want a preventative prescription, ensuring they can stay mobile in all the right places so they can do the activities they love. It’s as if people see their later years already, and they understand the importance of moving better before they have problems.
Enter the glutes. I have been posting a ton of videos on my IG account the last six months on the functional glute work we prescribe in in my studio, Mind the Mat.
People go crazy over the glutes because of how they make our butts look (enter Sir Mix-A-Lot), but I go crazy over the glutes because I’m convinced they will save our lives.
Seriously, the glutes will save your life.
The Role of Gluteus Maximus (glute max)
- The glute max is a powerful hip extender, and has an important role in walking and running efficiency. It is also the prime, powerful mover when going from a sitting position to standing and when negotiating stairs.
- Research shows that the glutes help stabilize and keep the trunk erect during running. (Lieberman DE, Raichlen DA, Pontzer H, Bramble DM, Cutright-Smith E. The human gluteus maximus and its role in running. J Exp Biol. 2006 Jun;209(Pt 11):2143-55.)
The Role of Gluteus Medius (glute med)
- The glute med has a huge role in standing balance since it stabilizes your pelvis while standing on one leg. Without a strong glute med, certain people are at higher risk of falls. For some people, like older adults, falls can be serious and life threatening since they lead to immobility.
- Glute med also stabilizes the pelvis during running and other athletic activities. If the glute med is weak or does not fire correctly, injuries can occur and thus lead to immobility or pain.
OK, so what should you do? Do these exercises every day or every other day if you like your current exercise routine. Supplement these in with your cycle class, running routine, and even your yoga practice. (We include these in all HAWT Pilates classes at Mind the Mat so you are good there…shameless plug, yes.)
Cross Midline High Reach
On all fours, reach your right leg high up to the left, crossing your midline (your midline is an imaginary line dividing your body into left and right halves). Then switch and reach your right leg across your midline and high to the left. Do for one minute.
Inverted Butt Lift
This one is a bit complicated. Basically you are internally rotating at the hip and doing mini lifts. Keep the motion slow. Perform for one minute each side.
Start on your elbows and knees. Bring your knees together and your feet apart (process that for a moment). Lift your leg up in the air, then bring your knee back down on the mat and put weight in it. Perform one minute each side.
Side Butt Tap and Lift
Come down on your left elbow and up on your right hand. Reach your right leg out to the side keeping your knee straight and slightly turned out. Lift and tap the floor. Please listen to this video for form tips. Do one minute on each side.
Straight Leg Lift (Posterior)
Stay down on your left elbow, but wrap your right arm around your back, keeping your chest open. Reach your right leg straight back behind you. Lift the leg up, but stabilize your spine. Slowly lift up and up for one minute. Keep your knee straight, this is super important! Repeat on the other side.
Keep your knee bent and turned out. Bring your ankles together like a curtsy, then lift the leg up to the back straightening your knee at the very end. Repeat down and up for one minute on each side.
Thigh Wrap Combo
This is a great combo. Try one minute for each move, then repeat on the other side.
Knee Side – Chest Combo
Also a great combo, try this slowly or speed up for different results. Again, one minute each leg.
Working your glutes on all fours like this has added benefits. You’ll strengthen your arms and target your deep core muscles without even knowing it, but it helps to think about pulling your abs up to stabilize your spine. If you have wrist pain, make sure your elbows are not locked out. Keep them straight but with a little “softness” to them. This will make the move more difficult because it is utilizing the scapular stabilizers and core more. Squeezing your glutes with your brain, especially at the end range, helps activate more muscle fibers than when not thinking about it. #science
Please let me know if you have any questions and of course, follow me on Instagram @drmeganbrown. You can sign up for my classes here but make sure you do so two weeks in advance as they fill up…and so do the waitlists!