This month, health and fitness expert Carole Caplin on the importance of your glorious gluteal muscles
It’s one of the first areas I check when training clients! The gluteus maximus is the most powerful muscle in the body so isolating it through activation contractions is crucial.
If the glutes don’t correctly fire up, other muscles such as the hamstrings, quadriceps and calves are forced to pick up the slack. When these other muscles carry a motion they are not mechanically designed to do, it can lead to tightness, pain and injury in those areas.
Rigorous glute workouts are not required; the following exercises will activate the glutes and teach you how to engage them as you walk, run, squat and sit. Thus resulting in reducing repetitive strain injuries of the lower back, the hip joint, knees and surrounding structures, also to the foot and lower leg.
Prior to working the glutes:
■ Make sure your hip flexors are relaxed
■ Fatigue your hamstrings, this will encourage activation of the glutes
■ The moment you feel the need to recruit other muscles stop!
■ Lie face down, hands under forehead. Concentrate on one glute.
■ Slowly squeeze the glute (it should feel like a sideways slide across the buttock) and hold for three seconds and equally slowly, fully release.
■ Concentrate on deepening the sensation and lengthening the time it takes to perform each activation.
■ Lie flat on your back with one knee bent and the other leg straight with your hands placed by your sides, palms facing the ceiling at 45º.
■ Keep your shoulder blades and upper back on the ground; there should be no stress on your neck.
■ From here pull your belly button inwards, clench glutes together then push upwards through the hips until you reach a bridge position – knees in line to the shoulders with one leg maintained straight out in front of you.
■ Hold for five seconds then lower that leg, lift the other.
■ Alternate lifting legs for a total of ten repetitions then relax. Do two sets every day.
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