In my line of work I often get asked about training and exercises for the glutes. While I am fundamentally against excluding or promoting a particular exercise, in this case I will present my conclusions on the subject.
I prefer not to use gluteus machines and the likes, and would rather opt for multi-articular exercises such as squats or deadlifts. If executed correctly, these exercises can physiologically strengthen the lower limbs. The problem with these exercises is, very few people possess sufficient articular mobility to carry them out safely.
Aside from this, it is necessary to have:
– weights, a barbell and power rack
– a person able to teach the correct technique or sufficient time to dedicate to learning all the fine technicalities needed to make each lift safe and efficient.
And lastly, to create an adequate stimulus you would need to use relatively heavy loads (at least 1 / 1.5 times your body weight) and not everyone is suitable to withstand such loads.
But how do the gluteal muscles (glutes) actually work?
Although squats and deadlifts are more often than not a suitable choice, over time I have become more and more convinced that safer and more productive exercises for the lower limbs exist, whether you are looking for strength, muscular hypertrophy or simply better posture.
While it can be argued that the main function of the glutes as a whole is to extend the hip, it is necessary to understand the function of this powerful muscular group in terms of the entire chain it belongs to.
For a more thorough analysis I would like to refer you to an article in Italian by colleague Stefano Pasotti http://www.stefanopasotti.it/glutei-tonici-significa-avere-bella-schiena/, highlighting in particular this important consideration:
“the gluteal muscles favor alternating contractions: that is to stay, when a gluteus contracts, the counter-side must release. With every step, the leading leg (the “lifted” one) releases the gluteus while the hind one contracts”
This mechanism can be emphasized in activities such as walking, running, cross-country skiing or skating; it is very difficult to reproduce in a weight room.
So how can we offer our clients an immediate and sufficient training stimulus without altering the physiology of these muscles?
Here is how we train the glutes in our studio
In general, we apply a Loop Band 21mm or a Loop Band 29mm around the client’s waist and fasten it to a fixed point using the Utility Strap so that the band is at a slight slope. The client simply has to walk on the treadmill as naturally as possible.
It is essential that the trainer be behind the client at all times during the exercise and ready to intervene in case of any problems.
The variables of the exercise can be customized according to the energy systems needing work:
– the intensity of traction (changing the color of the elastic)
– the length of each set
– the recovery time between sets
This method is safe, simple to implement and appreciated by all who practice it.
And what about for the fittest?
Serious athletes can increase the challenge with an advanced version of this exercise, which involves running rather than walking on the treadmill.
In this case, the treadmill can be level or set to an incline, depending on the objectives: it is worth bearing in mind that the foot contact time (coupling time) increases together with the inclination of the treadmill.
Almost zero inclination together with smaller Loop Bands should be used to work on muscle tendon stiffness; while larger Loop Bands and an increased inclination is used to concentrate on the contraction of the target muscles (to build up strength / hypertrophy).
Please note that running with this Loop Band technique is a very advanced exercise and represents a challenge even for the fittest of athletes. It is essential to accurately plan your training and to be assisted throughout, and if possible, also by monitoring your heart rate.
As always, I urge you not to underestimate the difficulty of the work and to experiment with new methods and kinds of exercises, sharing your new ideas with those of your colleagues.
Articolo di Andrea Boaretto – fondatore di Fit Point
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