Written By Dave
Its been a while since part 1 of this series, but part 2 is finally here.
The first part of this series looked at why the glutes are important, and why they don’t fire in a lot of people. Bad motor patterns and tight hip flexors are two of the biggest culprits. Now that we know they are important its time to look at how to get them firing.
Activating the glutes
Before you worry about strengthening your glutes with traditional compound exercises such as the squat, lunge and step ups, you need to be able to activate them in isolation. There is no point squatting if your glutes are not active, as you will be training your body to compensate, which is just reinforcing bad motor patterns. Also it is likely you will be predisposing yourself to injury.
Some dynamic warm up drills are a good way to get your hips loosened up for exercise, as well get your glutes firing. Incorporating some motor control drills for the glutes into your warm up for either weights or volleyball training is a good way to ensure they are switched on and ready for the session. You are killing two birds with one stone here as you are warming up, and also correcting or preventing a common imbalance.
Motor Control Exercises for the Glutes
Glute Lifts– squeeze your glute to lift your heel straight up in the air.
Arabesque on Wobble Board– balance and hold this position. Your glute will be active to hold you steady.
Scorpions– keep your shoulders flat on the floor and initiate the movement by squeezing your glute and lifting the leg over to the opposite side. The focus here is activating the glute, not range of motion.
[QUICKTIME http://www.performanceworkouts.com/exercise/reversestraightlegcrossovers.mov 320 257]
Bridges– lying on your back with knees bent up at 90 degrees. Squeeze through your glutes and lift yourself up as high as they will take you. Only go as high as you can using your glutes, trying to force the range of motion will take the focus off the glutes and onto the back extensors.
Once you have mastered the double leg bridge you can progress to the single leg bridge. The setup is the same as a double leg bridge, but you leave one leg digging into the ground and the other tuck up towards your chest. You can rest a tennis ball on your abdomen and pin it there with your flexed up leg. Perform the bridge as per normal, squeezing through your glute to lift your hips off the floor. Pinning the tennis ball to your chest ensures that you cannot use your lumbar extensor, isolating the glute further.
Birdogs– starting on all fours, brace your stomach and squeeze the glute on the leg you are going to move. Focus on pushing your heel straight back, and then returning letting your knee hover just above the ground. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
The next progression of this is to take the opposite arm off the ground also. This adds a bit more of a balance component. Perform the reps in the same way, focusing on keeping your hips still and controlling the movement.
Incorporate some motor control exercises for the glutes into your warm up for either weights or volleyball, and you’ll be on your way to achieving a bigger and better butt. This will ensure your glutes will fired up the session to follow. These exercises will get your butt active and you will also get some carry over into strength gains. However to really get your glutes nice and strong you need some new exercises. The next part of the series will look at these strengthening exercises.