My butt is sore.
I taught four classes yesterday and now my gluteus minimus, maximus, and medius are sore. Yay.
You see, the aforementioned butt muscles are a main component of posture and good posture is paramount to preventing pain and injury.
Weak glutes are super common, even for those of us who are active. Sitting A LOT, which most of us do unfortunately, does nothing for our butt. Correction; it does nothing GOOD for our butt. Sitting tightens the muscles of the front of the thighs, the quadriceps, weakens the butt, and weakens and shortens the hamstrings.
Weak glutes and hamstrings can lead to a bizillion issues. Knee pain, quadriceps injuries, poor posture, low back pain, upper back and shoulder pain, and weakened abdominals just to name a few.
If you think you are immune to such concerns because you regularly run, squat, and lunge your way through a workout, think again.
Running, lunging, and squatting are great exercises but they work the quadriceps in conjunction with the hamstrings and glutes.
In a perfect world a squat is a perfect exercise, just look at all the muscles it works!
But in a ‘perfect’ world we wouldn’t spend much of our day sitting and our muscles would be in perfect balance from front to back.
The quadriceps are work horses and the combination of them being tight and the back of the body being weak leads to quadriceps overkill. Given any opportunity to work, the quadriceps take it, often overshadowing the neglected glutes and hamstrings.
Quadriceps are naturally stronger than the hamstrings but, like all things in life, it’s all about perfect balance.
The solution is exercises that target the glutes and hamstrings while allowing the quads to take a backseat.
Put the weight into your heels to increase the focus on the hamstrings and glutes.
Never turn your head to the side while in a bridge and concentrate the upper body weight across the upper back, not the neck.
Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls
After just one rep you’ll have no question that this exercise works the hamstrings and glutes-big time.
As with the Bridge, keep your head straight and concentrate the weight across the upper back.
Perfect form is crucial in this exercise so if it’s new to you ask a trainer for some help or use a mirror and no weight to spot yourself until you get the hang of it. The key is a flat back supported by engaged abdominals, with the weight in your heels, and your hips going slightly behind you as you hinge forward.
One legged deadlifts are pretty awesome too.
What’s your favorite way to work your glutes and hamstrings? Do you focus on these muscles or go for full body exercises and hope everything balances itself out?
Coming in tomorrow’s post-stretches for the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
Gabby @ Gabby's Gluten-Free
Great post, Faith! I’m definitely guilty of having weak glutes and over-anxious quads. I’ve got a love/hate relationship with deadlifts but they’re really are one of the best exercises around.
Wow – great post! Love the first image of the muscles and the bones – I’m not a doctor/health care professional by any means but somehow I am so drawn to images like that – the human body is amazing! The information you shared is really resonating with me right now because for the past year I’ve been going to a yoga class that focuses on pelvic alignment – and how everything begins in the pelvis. The premise is that all the unevenness and imbalance in our bodies can be traced to pelvic misalignment, which then results in the quads working too hard (as you have written) and potentially a host of back, hip, and even shoulder issues. Amazing. It’s been such a great class because for many years of my yoga practice, I was going to vinyasa style classes (which are absolutely wonderful as well) but going slow in an alignment class really makes me focus on that often-neglected part of the body. This leads me to think… is the butt the new “core”?? 😉
I am obsessed with pelvic alignment and stability as well, ask any of my Pilates students! The pelvis is definitely the essence of the core and its strengths and weaknesses ripple up and down the body with sometimes disastrous outcomes! I love that you found a good yoga fit for you and that it is teaching you they ‘why’ of the pose, not just the ‘how’.
eryka@this is my happily every after
Wow, I didn’t know any of this. I do tend to do total body workouts, or workouts that focus on push/pull muscles on oposite days. But I can speak first hand about the pain that comes from weak hamstrings and glutes. This past week my knee has been slipping out of place after I did an intense hamstring workout. My hamstrings were sore for days and my knee bugged me so much I had to take a few days in a row off to rest. All healed now and everything is back to normal, and now I know that putting special attention and care on these muscles could help avoid injury in the future. 🙂
Amy @ Nourishing Power
I typically do full body circuits when I workout, but I make sure all the areas are covered. Squats are one of my favorites, but I never really thought about how unbalanced squats can be. Deadlifts and hip extensions are also some favorites of mine, though. I like having a sore butt. 🙂 It reminds me I worked hard.
Thanks for this post! I feel like I sit (at work) all day and run/train all night… my IT band has been driving me crazy these past couple of weekends on my long runs while training for a half marathon. Your info about over-working quads with the weak glutes/hams makes so much sense, I’ll have to up my ante in that department. Looking forward to the stretches in tomorrow’s post!
Sarah (I Dream of Beets)
Crossfit workouts, which include so many squats and deadliest, work my butt. Oh man, yes they do.
I recently added a serious deadlift regimen to my training & LOVE it. Your posts are always so detailed & informative. I’m often cautioning people (especially runners) to balance their lower body by focusing on glutes (especially medius) & hamstrings. Really great information Faith!