Sir Mix A Lot had it right when he sang about liking big butts. There is so much more to your behind than just being part of your physical shape and some cushion for sitting. Here the top 4 reasons to work on those glutes every chance you get.
#1- Prevent/help knee pain
One of the biggest reasons for knee pain of all sorts is weak hips. Too often our posterior chains (the entire backside of your body) is under utilized and weak compared to your anterior chain. Sitting most of the day shuts off the glutes and they can fail to reengage when they are needed in activities like climbing stairs, running, and squatting. If your derriere isn't doing its half of the work to move your body, then the extra work falls to your quadriceps and puts excess pressure on your knees. This problem is especially common for women who tend to be more quad-dominant.
Strengthen those glutes, have less knee pain.
#2- Prevent/Help low back pain
Our joints are designed to alternate in stability and mobility. Your thoracic (upper) spine should be a mobile joint system, your lumbar (lower) spine should be a stable joint system, and your hips should be a mobile joint system. If your glutes are weak or underactive, all that movement they are supposed to be controlling while standing, walking, and running is potentially being transferred into your lower back. Suddenly you're asking small muscles meant to stabilize to take over the movement of the much bigger gluteal muscles which, not surprisingly, creates strain and fatigue. More strength and control of your glutes will mean your hip movement really comes from the hips and not the lower back.
Strengthen those glutes, have less lower back pain.
#3- Increase your power
Want to be able to bound upstairs with ease? Pick heavy things up off the floor like it's nothing? Jump higher or further? Sprint faster? You need strong glutes! These powerhouse muscles offer some incredible power from the bottom of a jump, through a lift from the floor, and through the hip extension of a sprint. You'll be surprised to see how much easier even walking feels when you've got more power coming from behind!
Strengthen those glutes, have more power.
#4- Improve your balance
Every single one of my clients works on balance with me because most of life really happens on one foot. You walk, climb stairs, and run one foot at a time. When it comes to icy sidewalks, unsteady trains, and any other obstacle of daily life that threatens to throw you off balance, the glutes are critical for staying upright. As the primary hip supporter, your gluteal muscles (especially the gluteus medius) offer stability and control when things get unsteady. Don't believe me? Try any single leg exercise and you should feel your glutes immediately start working to keep you upright (assuming they are turned on and working - see bonus comment for more info on this).
Strengthen those glutes, have better balance.
Bonus- how to turn on your glutes
Now that you're all excited and revved up to get to work on that booty, you should know that some people have a harder time than others getting their glutes to start working efficiently, especially if you sit most of the day and haven't been active in a while. If you perform a standard glute bridge and you don't feel your bum working, try some clam shells. Pictured below is without a band, but I recommend putting a mini/circle band on up above your knees to make the exercise more effective. Still not feeling it? Put your hips against a wall so your lower back can't try and help your glutes out when it comes to moving your top leg.
Happy booty building!
It is so easy to be turned off by and want to avoid difficult challenges. It’s even easier to steer clear of challenges you choose for yourself like running that longer distance or lifting that heavier weight or getting that extra education. But doing hard things is essential to becoming the best you you can possibly be.
I encounter a lot of women who want to be active and fit but are hesitant to set a real goal for themselves when it comes to their fitness. They don’t want to set their personal expectations too high or work on something too challenging like being able to do a pull-up for the first time ever. This mentality can be seen in other life areas, too. We all know people (or are people) who don’t love their jobs but don’t want to put the time and energy into looking for something else, stay in relationships they find uninspiring because dating is hard, or stay in cities they hate because moving is a scary prospect and requires so much work. Just imagine how much you can miss out on in life by avoiding the hard things. Going through a challenge is what helps us grow, brings us a sense of accomplishment, and ultimately helps us live our best lives.
The thing is, challenge and difficult situations are a part of life. So at some point you will HAVE to go through something. Wouldn’t you rather have practiced and developed confidence in your ability to face a challenge head on, tackle it, and come out victorious when it’s under your control, rather than just wait for disaster to strike? Developing the discipline needed to train for and then run a marathon was hard, but it made scheduling, committing to weekend work, and staying focused in graduate school so much easier. Pushing myself to lift heavier and heavier weights has provided me with a lot of sore muscles and an understanding that change takes time; it also taught me that I can handle a lot, even the physical and emotional pain of losing a loved one, and that I can persevere long enough to get to a point where the pain is less and time has helped to heal the hurt.
This is a short post because this concept isn’t a complicated one to explain, but I felt it was really important to offer the reminder of why choosing to do hard things is so important for your personal growth. So I encourage you to pick one hard thing to focus on this year, fitness related or otherwise. And tell me what you’ve decided to do! I’d love to hear about it, so post it in the comments.
Can we be real for a moment? Whoever the people are who perpetuate the notion that once you take the big brave step to follow your dreams everything will fall into place are big fat liars! Getting where you want to go, especially with something totally new and scary to you, is inevitably going to come with a whole host of doubts. I know, I've been there!
If you don't have doubts, you're doing it wrong
Have you ever heard the saying "your dreams should be so big they scare you"? It is so freaking true! Big dreams that come from the heart and would propel you forward into unknown territory. No one's big dream in life is to get a mediocre job and live in a home they can barely afford with a significant other they simply tolerate while sitting on the couch all weekend. Your dream life is about following that one burning passion inside of you so you wake up every day excited to work. Your dream life is about falling in love with your best friend and adventure partner that you couldn't even dream of they are so amazing. Your dream life is about living in abundance and feeling free to give of yourself all day because your home is a private oasis. Your dream life is about running that race, lifting that weight, or playing that sport in a way you've never achieved before.
So yeah, those big dreams are scary. And from that fear is going to come doubt... sometimes lots of it. But if fear doesn't creep up every once in a while, are you really pushing your boundaries and going for the greatest you can possibly get? Probably not. I'm learning to push past the doubts and to see them as a sign that I'm reaching so high the part of my brain that's been trained to be cautious and pessimistic is freaking out (and that's a good thing).
Let doubt inspire new action
Here's what happened to me: I made the big scary plunge into personal training once my desk job came to an end. I spent a lot of time on my own and in consultation with trusted friends and colleagues reviewing my online business model, made sure the gym would not see it as a conflict of interest, and took out a Facebook Ad because I was going to be a trainer in a gym AND online!
Then the doubt took over. Bills looked insurmountable, people didn't flock to me like I somehow imagined they would from one ad, building clients at the gym was not going at the rapid fire pace I wanted, and I started to really question whether or not I made the right decision. In fact, the thought that started to pop into my head was "I'm an idiot to have thought this would work". Wow.
Considering this is the first time in my life I have no trouble uttering the words "I love my job!" it is a bit silly for me to think I made a wrong decision. What was wrong was letting those words of doubt make me stop my Facebook ad, stop posting on social media, and stop writing blog entries. Hello! How can I create an amazing community of people who are learning to love their bodies through fitness, health, and some mental strength and reprogramming if I'm radio silent?
Finally, I decided to make a change. Reading good things, refocusing my thoughts, approaching everyone I interacted with at the gym with love, talking to friends and family, meditating (this one has been more helpful than I seriously ever would have imagined), and jumping back into the online world with a conviction that I can and will get where I want to go. If you're feeling immense doubt I encourage you to take a moment, make a plan, and get back in control. YOU CAN DO THIS! The voice that says you can't is just scared and doesn't know any better.
Let the Doubt Out
OK, now that you're dreaming so big it scares you and pushing forward with a plan, it's time to let the doubt out. It's OK to share your feelings. And it's OK to let them go. There is something very liberating about acknowledging your own thoughts and feelings. The most helpful exercise I did when trying to pull myself back to being the motivated and excited dream chaser I had been was to write down the stories I tell myself that hold me back. It went something like this:
YOU CAN DO THIS! Don't let fear or doubt hold you back.
P.S. I really enjoyed "Mastering Your Mean Girl" by Melissa Ambrosini when working on getting past some of those limiting thoughts I was suffering from. Check it out!
lover of fitness, sweets, veggies, adventure, travel, and feeling confident.