It is your duty to work your booty

So come on, hands up who really wants to work the glutes, or feel that their bottoms could do with a bit of improvement? Just to let you know that I am writing this article with one hand in the air! Have your clients expressed concern that they are doing lots of traditional glute exercises but without success? Well current research suggests that with certain adjustments we can help our clients (and ourselves!) achieve their goals. The problem it seems does not just stem from poorly toned gluteal muscles but in tight hip flexor, or iliopsoas muscles.

The iliopsoas is one of the major muscle complexes of the body. In the diagram, the iliopsoas is striped with fine lines. It goes from the spine through the abdomen and over the brim of the pelvis to the inner part of the upper thigh. Its normal function is involved with the entire working of the back, the hips, and the pelvic area.

You can see, therefore, that it is one of the main controllers of posture in the body. The glute’s main function is hip extension, an action which is vital to activities such as running and walking. Therefore, because muscles work in opposition, a tight iliopsoas will mechanically cause a decrease in hip extension as well as neurologically cause decreased neural drive to the glutes. When the neural drive of the glutes is decreased it will no longer produce the same amount of force with the proper timing. To compensate for this the hamstring muscles contract in an attempt to do the work of the gluteals. Because the hamstrings are not as strong as the gluteals, the action of the hip extension is weaker, so the lumbar spine extends to make up for this. This concept is known as synergistic dominance. These disruptions lead to a decrease in the activity of the glutes, tight hamstrings and lower back (sound familiar?) And it is this decreased activity that can eventually lead to atrophy and/or a saggy appearance of the buttocks.

Have a look at this Glute activation circuit from IFS 2010 Personal Trainer of The Year Charlotte Ord, and see how you can incorporate these exercises in your classes/sessions

Charlotte is teaching on the Conditioning Bootcamp in July. Click here for more details

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