We have recently discovered and lectured at great length about ‘the power of the buns’, the gluteal muscles we tend to sit on and should be using more! If you are looking for a sure fire way to improve posture, flatten the stomach and improve performance then this is definitely the way forwards…
Sitting at work can make your hips weak, which hampers your workout or performance in your favorite sport. Before you start hammering on those weights or begin training for a half-marathon, start with a few basic glute and hip activation exercises to condition your body.
Activate your glutes and hip through bridging, which is done with your back and feet on the floor. You lift your buttocks off the floor and hold that position for a few seconds before lowering. The bridge can also be done with your calves and heels or shoulders and head on a stability ball, or with one foot on the floor. The three-point hip extension involves positioning yourself on your hands and knees. Extend one leg behind so that your foot and leg are in alignment with your spine and head. Hold that position for a few seconds and put the leg back on the floor. In all exercises, keep the motion fluid and rhythmic to avoid any jerky movements that can pull a muscle.
Kneeling and Lunging
Tightening your buttocks while doing the kneeling hip flexor stretch activates your glutes while stretching your hip flexors and parts of your upper thigh. While holding the stretch, shift your weight to your front foot to engage your hip more. Lunges also activate your glutes and other hip muscles while you lunge in different directions — to the front, side, back or diagonally. Do these exercises as either part of your warmup or as a workout in itself.
Two basic strength exercises can get your glutes stronger: the deadlift and deep squat. The deadlift is a hip-hinging movement that uses your buttocks as the main force generator to help you lift a heavy object off the floor. You can use a kettlebell, dumbbell or barbell for the deadlift, although physical therapist Gray Cook suggests that you use a kettlebell because the handle is easier to reach and carry than the other weights. The deep squat also works your hip and glutes, which move below the knee line as you squat down. As you move, keep your spine extended and your heels on the floor with your feet and knees pointing forward or slightly turned out. Start using your body weight before adding additional weights.
Stretch and Release
Stretch your hips to release tension and stiffness after a hard workout. Holding a stretch decreases neural stimulation to your buttocks, which enhances relaxation. Sample stretches include the tabletop hip stretch and the supine leg cross stretch. However, if you want to loosen your hip joints, do hip swings side to side or front to back. Keep the motion controlled and rhythmic.