Don’t underestimate the importance of your glutes. Stronger bum muscles can improve your desk-induced posture problems – and you don’t need any equipment.
Your workouts don’t need to be all metal and weights now that gyms have reopened. In fact, it’s just as important to keep up your isolation and accessory work as it is to do those big compound lifts.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that bodyweight exercises really can help you to build strength while doing great things for your balance and stability. That’s never more important than when thinking about glute training.
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Glute workout: build stronger glutes with muscle activation
Your glutes are your body’s biggest muscle, and are responsible for keeping you upright when doing everything from running and walking to working from home. As fitness coach Nazia Khatun explains, a lot of lower back pains in particular “can be the result of weak glutes or glutes that aren’t being used properly.
“The main objective of strong glutes is to stabilise the pelvis and movement around the hip area, which helps with good posture and a strong lower back,” says Nazia.
As your glutes are made up of three main muscles (your glute max, med and min), training them with your bodyweight can help to isolate each area. “It’s a good idea to get used to training without any equipment, because this will help you to build up strength without putting your joints under undue strain,” Nazia adds.
If you’re looking to put together a bodyweight workout for strengthening your glutes, then Nazia recommends the following five exercises:
- Bulgarian split squats
- Glute bridges
- Lateral lunges
- Donkey kicks
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She suggests doing three sets of this routine back to back, “performing each exercise for 20 reps.”
Bulgarian split squats
Perform this exercise slowly, advises Nazia, because “not only will you feel it more, but it will also add lower body mass” to further improve your posture.
- Stand a foot or two in front of a sturdy chair, and place your left foot on the surface behind you.
- Keeping your core tight, lower your body downwards until your front leg is at a 90 degree angle and your back knee is just a couple of inches off the ground.
- Squeeze through your right heel to straighten the leg and come back to standing.
- Repeat on the other side
“Ensure you squeeze your glutes on the way up to engage the muscles further,” says Nazia.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and brace your core.
- Pushing your weight back into your heels and bending your knees to lower your hips to the floor.
- Once your legs are at 90 degrees (or as close to that as you can get), push through your heels and come back to the starting position.
Glute bridge with band
“To really get your glutes fired, focus on the tension going up and down,” says Nazia.
- Lie on your back with your arms by your sides and feet on the floor, a palms length away from your bum.
- If you have one, add a a small resistance band around your legs, just above the knees.
- Tuck your tailbone and start to lift your hips off the ground. Squeeze through your glutes and push your knees out wide.
- Hold at the top for three seconds and then return to your starting position.
Side lunges are great for “hitting the side of your glutes so you can cover all the angles,” explains Nazia.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold your hands in front of your chest.
- Step your left leg out to the side as wide as possible, with your feet facing forwards, pushing your hips back as you do so.
- Lower your bum down by bending through your left knee.
- Push back up through the heels to return to standing.
Nazia advises keeping this exercise slow and controlled to ensure the movement is coming from the glutes.
- Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
- Kick your left heel to the ceiling, keeping it bent at 90 degrees as you do so.
- Once your left thigh is parallel with the floor, slowly lower it back down.
- Repeat on the other side.
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