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Glute Workouts That Make No Sense at All

Being some of the most powerful muscles in our body, the glutes play a crucial role in supporting our everyday movements, whether it be walking, standing, or bending down. “From a functional perspective, the glutes are essential for tasks such as lifting heavy loads or sprinting to catch a bus,” explains Matthew Scarfo, a certified personal trainer. “Your glute muscles serve as the foundation for your spine, maintaining a neutral pelvis to ensure proper curvature in your lower back. This helps you maintain good posture throughout your back and shoulders.”

However, if you’ve heard about “dead butt syndrome,” you are aware that the glutes can quickly weaken and become inactive without regular activation. This can lead to issues in various areas such as the hips, back, shoulders, and neck due to poor spinal alignment, increasing the risk of injury and balance problems.

Moreover, if you’re not incorporating dedicated glute exercises into your routine, you may not be sufficiently activating these muscles. Scarfo points out that due to our sedentary desk jobs, the glutes often remain underutilized.

Training the muscles in your posterior chain helps build strong muscle tissue to provide optimal support for your entire body. However, not all glute exercises are equally effective; some are simply ineffective, while others are commonly performed with improper form. Scarfo recommends avoiding the following four options and provides alternative suggestions.

Partial Squats

It is quite common to observe individuals performing shallow squats with exaggerated hip movements in an attempt to target their glutes. “Engaging in shallow squats with high repetitions may appear beneficial for glute development, but they do not provide much stimulus,” Scarfo explains. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of performing deep squats to truly challenge the glutes.

“One effective method is to use a kettlebell or dumbbell and execute a goblet squat,” he recommends. By holding the weight close to your chest, initiate a hip hinge to descend into a squat position – continue descending until you reach your full range of motion and depth. “Push back up from the squat using your hamstrings and glutes, ensuring your knees track outwards,” he adds. As your glutes strengthen, you can increase resistance by using heavier weights.

Quick Glute Bridges

“Glute bridges themselves are not the issue; the problem lies in the common way people perform them hurriedly,” notes Scarfo. “If you rush through glute bridges, you may not achieve the necessary muscle activation for proper glute development,” he clarifies. To enhance this exercise, focus on performing it slowly and steadily, pausing to squeeze your glutes at the top before lowering back down.

To improve the exercise, begin by lying on your back with your heels close to your buttocks while engaging your core muscles to activate both your abdominal and core muscles during the glute bridge. “These muscle groups provide support throughout the glute bridge movement,” he asserts.

Glute Kickbacks

Kickbacks are a popular glute exercise in gyms and exercise routines aimed at targeting and strengthening the gluteal muscles, provided they are performed with proper technique to be effective and beneficial.

“A major issue with kickbacks is the challenge of effectively targeting the glute muscles during the movement,” Scarfo points out. “When using a cable machine to add resistance, you may primarily engage your calves and hamstrings to move your leg, missing the optimal glute squeeze,” he explains.

Instead of kickbacks, Scarfo recommends Romanian deadlifts as an alternative. “This variation of the deadlift poses minimal injury risk and enables you to concentrate on loading the glutes progressively to maximize the benefits,” he suggests.

If you’re a novice, start with lighter weights. “Hold light to moderate weights, one in each hand, retract your shoulder blades to stabilize your back, hinge at the hips, and slowly lower the weights down,” he instructs.

Keep the weights close to your body as you engage your glutes, preventing your back from rounding. When you reach your full range of motion, cease hip hinging and, utilizing glute tension, gradually lift back up with tight shoulders and a straight back to complete a repetition.

Side Leg Raises

Similarly, lateral leg raises, also known as fire hydrants, can present challenges in effectively loading the glutes and may impede progress in their development and strengthening. “You may inadvertently introduce imbalances by compensating for the motion through lifting your knee,” Scarfo warns.

To address this, he suggests performing curtsy lunges, which incorporate core stability training and deliver a more comprehensive full-body workout. Begin by shifting your weight onto your right leg, then move your left leg behind and to the side, crossing it behind your body in a “curtsy” position. “While executing the curtsy lunge, ensure the weight is on the outer edge of your right foot and dip into the lunge, which may resemble more of a pulse based on your range of motion,” he explains.

Each pulse completed in the lunge represents one repetition. Maintain symmetry by conducting an equal number of repetitions on the other leg as well!

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