“Get your ass into it!” yells your coach as you half heartedly go through the motions of a workout or practice. Does he really mean to use your butt muscles, or more metaphorically to put more effort into your movements? The answer is likely a little of both, and you know that from way back when.
Let’s drill down into why “using your ass” in sports and gym exercises is critical to power, strength, and speed. Regardless of your age and talent level, being able to successfully incorporate the glutes can transform your workouts, give you more distance off the tee, and allow you to hammer that ace first serve. Unfortunately, most executives, professionals, and older adults use their glutes for resting their body weight on, aka, sitting a majority of the day. Obviously sitting does nothing to make the glutes stronger. Sitting makes your glutes lengthened and more difficult to generate power for working out and playing any sports. Most people don’t know the potential that lies in the biggest muscle on their body.
The main function of your glutes is to extend your hips. The easiest way to explain it is standing up. When you stand up from a seated position, your glutes contract along with your quadriceps, to get you off the chair. Most people over rely on their quadriceps for these movements, which are shortened and tight due to sitting hours daily. The quadriceps cannot generate the power and strength of the glute muscles when they are shortened, and often lead to knee-cap pain when they dominate in pushing movements.
Training the glutes to be the prime power generator is not simply doing squats, lunges, and deadlifts till they fall off. It starts with smaller isolated exercises like lying face down and raising your straight leg high as you can off the ground. Another move called a bird dog helps to activate your glutes and your rear shoulder muscles. Being able to contract your glutes for full hip extension takes the strain off your quadriceps and knees, allowing for more range of motion for any squatting movements. This also means picking up a bag of mulch or dog food from the ground easier and putting less stress on your lower back. Being an athlete in the game of life isn’t always about lifting weights or playing sports, it’s about doing life’s activities easier and more often.
For women, they love training glutes for that curvy look. Aesthetics are important and I’d be telling a lie saying I don’t look at a woman’s butt that’s shapely. Ladies, you look at women’s butts too AND men’s. Everyone knows it. From a functional standpoint, learning how to activate your glutes helps you to stand up taller, shift your weight in a golf swing for more distance, explode into an overhand smash and serve, and sprint faster in a race. Look at a Thoroughbred’s rear legs and glutes. That’s what powers those amazing animals to run at the speeds they do. Once you learn to activate the glutes in a lunge, squat, and deadlift, your lifting amount increases while chance of injury decreases.
To learn how to train your glutes as part of a total body exercise program, sign up for my executive or active aging coaching program at mattpeale.com. I just scratched the surface in this blog on why getting your ass into it is the game changer your posture and athletic performance need. You can take any tennis or golf lessons you want, unless you learn from me how to activate the muscles you sit on all day, you’re missing out on your potential. Go to my site and invest a few minutes into what Competing as an Athlete in the Game of Life can do for you!