Thank you to everyone that came out to support a good workout for a good cause! We raised a bit of money and saw a few PR's drop. I was enamored by Stefan's Shorts, but trust me, it was not the catalyst for today's article.......really.....
Gluteus Maximus... the scientific name for your butt. It has an extremely important role in your body, as well as your athletic performance. Speed, quickness, and power all hinge on your ability to utilize and maximize your glutes. The more you’re able to use them the better you’ll be for just about every sport or activity. The fastest, quickest and most powerful athletes are all able to harness the power of their glutes. Learning to use your butt can really help boost your athletic performance. Unfortunately, most of us don't know how to. We may begin a movement by activating the glutes, but halfway through we have already gone soft and the power we began the movement with is no longer there in the critical part of the lift....the finish.
Another real benefit of having strong glutes, is that it protects your lower back. In fact, many of the people that suffer from low back pain have a diminished use of their glutes. Their butts don’t know how to work. They've been dormant for such as long time that when they're called upon to do work, they don’t know how to and end up passing the work along to other muscles, mainly your lower back muscles. Eventually your lower back can’t take the excess work and it ends up getting strained.
One major cause of dormant glutes is a simple case of too much sitting. Sitting for long periods of time tightens and shortens your hip flexor muscles. Your hip flexor muscles are large powerful muscles that originate from your low back vertebrae and attache to your upper thigh region. Since your hip flexors are much larger and stronger than your low back muscles, when they play tug-o-war, your lower back muscles lose every time. Ironically, the muscles that are strong enough to counteract your hip flexors, your glutes, get shut down when they're needed the most. When your hip flexors are tight and over activate, it inhibits your glutes from functioning.
So what can you to do?
Before trying to improve your glute activation, you need to deactivate your hip flexors, and the best way to do so is to stretch them out. Stretching your hip flexors for 30 to 60 seconds prior to exercising your glutes will help enhance your ability to activate and “wake up” your glutes from dormancy. Simple stretches like leg swings and the Samson stretch prior to exercise can definitely help deactivate your hip flexors. Now that you know how to deactivate your hip flexors, you can take advantage and really work your butt!
We will try to focus many of the warm up sessions on glute activation. Brad has been working on it the past month or so and has seen major improvement. In the past, after an extremely heavy Deadlift day he would often wake up with low back stiffness. Since shifting the focus of his warm up to glute activation, that pain and stiffness has subsided.
In CrossFit, the majority of exercises work the body from "core to extremity". At The Compound, we take this principle to heart and want to strengthen the core starting at the biggest muscle for the most power, Gluteus Maximus. Whether you want a bigger squat or deadlift, relief from knee or lower back pain, or if you just want your butt to "pop" in those jeans (don't we all), glute activation training is the key!