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What’s So Special About the Glute?

Glute training is, unfortunately and typically associated with females. Women tend to harp on the topic, whether they want more shape or lift on their rear end, whereas most guys at the gym won’t specifically workout their glute at all, let alone discuss it. The truth is that working on glute strength will help every single lift – from bicep curls to the bench press. And if you have weak glutes, you are losing power in all of the major lifts – Bench Press, Deadlift, Squat, and Lat Pulldown/Pullup.

The Importance of the Glutes

You can imagine your glutes as the foundation for your spine. That’s why good posture and form are important – squeezing your glutes tilts your pelvis which in conjunction with squeezing your stomach will limit the amount of energy leaked out when lifting. For example, take the standing overhead press. In this movement, you take a weight, usually dumbbells or a barbell, and press it over head. As the muscles fatigue one may notice their back arching and their stomach coming out. This forms a ‘C’ shape in the spine which compresses the lumbar region (lower back). On top of increasing the risk of injury, this will limit the amount of weight pressed overhead. Learning to properly engage the glutes will help prevent this ‘C’ shape form happening and will take slack out of your system. This same fault is seen during the bench press, and makes it seem like the person will snap their back.

Avoid this fault and learn to use your glutes. Try this quick test to check the strength of your glutes:

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent.
  2. At first, keep your heels close to your butt.
  3. Pick your hip up towards the ceiling and squeeze your butt.
  4. Hold for 45 seconds.

Can you feel your glutes? If you can’t, then you are unable to properly engage them which means you are dumping load into your spine/lower back, or your hip flexors (front of thigh). If you can feel those bad boys(or girls!)  then awesome, you can move to harder progressions!

For those that can’t get back on the floor, place your hands on your butt while you try this exercise:

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent.
  2. At first, keep your heels close to your butt.
  3. Pick your hip up towards the ceiling and squeeze your butt.
  4. Repeat this for 15+ reps until you feel your glutes.
  5. Keep your hands on your butt.

It may look ridiculous but we need to work on mind-muscle connection – just doing a movement and assuming muscles are being worked is no way to exercise.

Learning to engage your glutes will help you generate power during bench press, deadlift, squats, will help almost any athlete especially with rotational movements such as the ones in golf, baseball, or boxing.

So how do you train glutes? Butt clenches in your office may work (but make sure no one is around!). For some you can do in the gym, try:

With any of the above it is important to pay close attention to your posture and form, and make sure to squeeze your glutes when the hip is extended (such as when you are standing). If at any point you feel too much in the hip flexors (front of thigh) or lower back, then that is where you are losing power. Step back and retry an easier variation of the exercise or select a different one. Eventually, you will find yourself getting stronger and able to handle the harder variations.


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