On The Bubble with the Buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles.
The ‘bubble’ is how football draft pundits and coaches describe the backside or the Gluteal muscles of their recruits. They like all of us want a high bubble. The gluteal muscles are composed of three layers of muscle and are the largest muscles of our bodies. They support us when walking, allow us to stand up from a chair and are central (or should be) to almost every movement we make. Further, they provide the force for most athletic movements such as jumps and sprints. However, many people do not train them properly or at all. Most of us have ‘gluteal amnesia’, even active people and use them for sitting. Most people know that you can develop the glutes with exercises such as the squat, lunge, step ups, to name just a few. The problem with these exercises is that they can (at times) aggravate existing knee conditions or require more strength and balance than people want to attempt.
Here are just a few exercises and a machine that will build the glutes and can eliminate or reduce knee pain during exercise.
Glute Bridge: Lay on a mat on your back. Move your heels further from your body and place the heels on the mat, point the toes up. The move is 2 parted. First, tilt your pelvis and contract your abs then lift your hips using your glutes. You know you are doing it right if you poke your abs and glutes and find them hard or contracted (or at least harder).
Reverse leg extensions or Scorpions: Put yourself on all fours and bend your leg in about a 90 degree angle. Now lift your heel to the sky. Another variation that also engages the lower back is the same move but with the leg straight. Do enough so they are hard to do (e.g. 15-20 reps per leg). For more challenge add ankle weights, do more reps or be more ballistic with the kick up.
Stand ups: Stand with your back to a chair. Then sit back until you touch the chair. Keep your head up engage your abs and consciously use you glutes for the lift. Add light weights and/or raise your arms over your head for more resistance.
Deadlift: Sound scary? They can be if not done with proper form but they are great to build the glute and lower back and are not as painful to the knee as squats. They can be done with free weights, but most gyms have a deadlift machine with two sets of handles. Though better demonstrated than described, stand in front of the deadlift machine (machine behind you), bend over and grab the handles. Then before you lift let your buttocks descend towards the floor, lift your head, pull your shoulders together slightly, and straighten your back. Now stand up by bringing your hips forward, keeping your arms hanging straight down. At the top of the lift you should be standing straight and your abs should be engaged as if you were in a standing plank position. Then sit back and let the weight come down. It’s OK to let the weight rest before you attempt another repetition. Knees hurt? Use the upper handles. If you have back issues, this is safe if done properly and with a gradual progression to increased resistance. If not done properly or at higher weights (without practice) they can aggravate back conditions. Start light, if the back hurts don’t do them without some additional guidance.
There are literally dozens more exercises like these many of which do not require knee flexion or machines. So remember your glutes and maybe next time you’re standing at the mirror looking over your shoulder you will see a bubble and not a pillow.
By: Patrick Cassidy, Personal Trainer at Towson
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