Fire Up Your Butt

Pic: J.Star

I like big butts. Not big flabby ones. Big, powerful, strong ones. The kind you see on 100m sprinters. A big, strong butt, generally means you can generate a lot of power. Why do we want big glutes? We jump a lot, and when you jump, your glutes play a massive role.

Why Are Your Glutes So Important?

Your hips are a key aspect to improving one of the fundamental skills of Volleyball. The Vertical Jump. Your glutes are largely responsible for hip extension. Hip extension is precisely the movement you perform when you jump. Think about a jump for a moment. You squat down, bend forward at the hips. At this point you are loading up the glutes eccentrically. As you come up, one of the main movements, is hip extension, i.e. You straighten out; This is where your glutes come in. Unfortunately, this is where a lot of people begin to malfunction. They don’t get their glutes involved enough in the jump, which means they are losing a massive amount of power and efficiency. Your hip extensors attribute about 40% of the power to the jump. This is more than any other muscle group, including your legs. A pretty good reason for you wanting to get your butt in gear.

Why Won’t They Fire?

The glutes are a hard one to learn to get going. Personally, I needed help from a Pilate’s specialist to teach me how to activate them properly after I had an injured back, and even now it’s an ongoing battle to make sure they are firing all the time.

As a general rule, if you don’t know how, it is pretty hard to learn how to fire up the glutes. This is because most exercises don’t actually teach you how to get the glute going in the exact movement we need it. The jump. If you haven’t learnt how to do this properly from a young age, or it isn’t in built, then it does become quite hard to learn. Bad motor patterns are the one major reasons of a lack of glute activity,.

A common reason for lack of glute function is tight hip flexors. Tight hip flexors are easy to get, and extremely bad for glute activation. When your hip flexors are firing, they turn off your glutes, and make it very hard to activate them, and they end up pretty weak. This is known as reciprocal inhibition. When a muscle is tight (hip flexors) and firing when it shouldn’t be, the opposite muscle, the antagonist (glutes) tends to want to turn off and not work. If you are activating your hip flexors when you shouldn’t be, this is going a long way towards your inability to get the glutes firing. Your hip flexors get really tight from sitting down for a long time, or simply from some bad exercise techniques (i.e. some crazy abs that activate more hip flexor than abdominal…).

What Else Goes Wrong?

Not only will you struggle to get as much power as you want, but you will also be pre- disposing yourself to a large variety of injuries. Wonderful.

If your glutes are sagging (haha) you are going to have to generate that power somewhere else. What occurs is known as synergistic dominance. Basically, your other muscles take up the slack and try to compensate for the fact that your glutes can’t do the job for you. Weak glutes pre disposes you to

• Low back injuries,
• Hamstring injuries,
• ITB tightness/ syndrome,
• All sorts of Knee injuries

Oh yeah, and this is just to name a few. A nice little side effect to add to the fact that you aren’t getting the most out of your jump.

Right, I Want to Jump High and Be Injury Free, Now What Do I Do?

Watch this space very closely. I will be giving you another part to this very important and enthralling series. We will look at activating the glutes in isolation, learning to get the switched on and firing again, then consequently strengthening them. Here’s to a better jump…

6 Replies to “Fire Up Your Butt”

  1. Hi Lauren,

    I really like your website! I have found all of the information very informative. I was researching hip flexors because I thought maybe they being tight is what is keeping me from achieving firm glutes and minimizing the small ripples on the back of my legs just below my butt. I workout about 5 days a week and have for almost 10 years and I cannot seem to firm the places I have always strived to shape up. As such, I am trying to come up with other solutions that may help. I do not think that my hip flexors are tight at all as my flexibility is excellent and I go to yoga a couple times a month.

    I do squats, lunges, kettle ball exercises, and many more leg exercises but it is very discouraging to not see the expected results. So, i guess my question is do you have any suggestions or thoughts about how to firm and lift my glutes in order to get rid of the ripples on my back thighs?


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