When it comes to any form of exercise, our glutes are key to performance. Particularly as runners, our glutes keep our legs, pelvis and torso aligned and steady as they propel us forward. Even so, our glutes, and our hamstrings, tend to be a bit on the lazy side, especially these days with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
We wake up, sit in a car to commute to work, sit behind a desk all day, and then find ourselves on the couch at night sitting again. With all this inactivity, it’s not uncommon for some people to find they can’t activate their glutes. This is from a lack of mind to body connection. But, here’s how to engage the glutes and get them working for you.
Before going for a run, spend ten minutes or so doing the below exercises to isolate and fire-up those glutes. I can guarantee they will work a lot harder during your run and one or two days later you will feel the benefits.
1. The Frog is a great exercise to start with if you have not spent too much time on isolated glute work. It will give you a good gauge on how well you have a mind to body connection. It is also a great way to track your progress overtime as your glutes begin to work harder as well as your hamstrings.
What to do: Lay on your tummy, bend your legs with your knees facing out and your heels squeezed together. Contract and squeeze your glutes. Hold for 10 seconds and rest. Repeat x10.
2. Single-Leg Deadlifts challenge your stability and strength. It is a great exercise for your glutes, hamstrings and core, including gauging your symmetrical strength. You may find one leg a little stronger than the other. This is also a perfect exercise for runners being a similar movement and motion to running.
What to do: Balance on one softly bent leg, fold from your hip, keeping a straight spine, and tip towards the floor. Slowly rise-up. Repeat x 10. Swap legs and repeat. Too make the exercise harder and to challenge your stability, hold a dumbbell in either or both hands.
3. Hip thrusts are one of the best exercises for glute development. Not only will it make your behind aesthetically pleasing, it is also designed to help improve strength, speed and power. Who doesn’t love a bit of…speed?!
What to do: Lay on the floor with arms by your side, feet hip distant apart and shoulders relaxed. Roll your hips up so your knees and shoulders are in a long diagonal line. Tighten your abdominals and keep the ribs tucked while squeezing the glutes. Lower your hips half-way down then drive back-up using your hamstrings and squeezing your glutes. Hold for 6 seconds and repeat. If you would like to increase the load add a weight over the hips.