If you have weak glutes, your squat and deadlift are going to suffer.
How do you know if you have weak glutes? Have a look at this list below and see if any apply to you;
- Knee Pain: discomfort/pain around the knee can mean your glutes, and hamstrings, aren’t functioning as well as they should be. This is usually an indicator that your quad dominant, causing a pull on your kneecap and causing the discomfort/pain.
- Poor Mechanics: looking at your squat and deadlift, do your knees cave in during squatting or do you just use your back instead of squeezing your bum during the deadlift? This is an indication that your glutes aren’t firing properly to allow proper movement mechanics.
- No Soreness: after a heavy leg day, do your glutes ever feel as sore as the rest of your legs? If not, other muscles are taking on more work than they should as opposed to the work that should be done by the glutes.
- Tight Hips: having weak glutes, and hamstrings, can lead to a posture imbalance. The muscles at the front of your body will then become dominant and pull your hips forward, creating the tightness.
9 times out of 10, atleast someone I come across has one or two of these issues. This just comes down to the modern lifestyle of sitting down for endless hours.
Get rid of your lazy arse status and try these fixes out in your training to get your glutes firing and your training to the next level;
- Stretch & Contract: using hinging movements allows the glutes and hamstrings to lengthen through their full range of motion. This is important when we start to talk about glute function.
When flexion of the hips occurs, the stretching of the hamstrings and glutes, the only option the glutes have left is to contract and extend the hips. Think of the coaching cue, hips back. Any exercise that is loaded at the front will emphasise this stretching of the hamstrings and glutes. However, to get your glutes really firing, the focus should be on lowering the weight slowly and then making that hip extension fast and powerful. You’re looking at 3-5 seconds on the way down then fast up.
Exercises such as deadlifts, glute bridges, hip thrusts and cable pull throughs are great for targeting this movement. You should be looking at higher reps, 15-20, to really target the glutes.
- Keep The Tension: any tension that is lost from the body means that any force you can produce is lost. That is why the muscles that stabilise your spine are so important. Keeping this tension allows the hips to fully flex and extend. No one who angry catted (arching in the spine) on a deadlift or turned a squat into a slut drop ever lifted to their maximum without hurting themselves. The people who stay tight lift heavy.
- Kettlebell Swings: using kettlebell swings are great for getting the glutes firing and strengthening your posterior chain.. They stimulate the intrafusal muscle fibres of your body. These muscle fibres are responsible for monitoring the amount and rate of change in length of a muscle. Simply put, it wakes up your hamstrings and glutes before lifting.
- Stop Your Knees Collapsing: stopping your knees collapsing will automatically improve glute activation. Whenever your knees collapse, the glutes and hips lose a lot of their contractile capabilities.
To avoid this, you should be aiming to keep your knees following your toes and screwing your feet into the floor. Simple exercises to help with this can be banded squats. Keep the reps high, 15-20, and feel the burn in your glutes.
- Are You Symmetrical: nearly everyone on the planet has one side stronger than the other. This just comes from the contralateral effect which is seen in many activities such as jumping and throwing. It’s nothing major, as long as it’s managed. The rule of thumb is if you have one dominant arm, the opposite bum cheek is your weakest.
Fixing this type of imbalance can be tricky. Isolating the weak glute comes from performing single leg exercises. We’re talking single leg deadlifts, hip thrusts or split squats. If you have not done these before, they can be very technical, so you may just want to use lighter loads on your squats. The emphasis then should be to focus on squeezing both glutes equally and reducing any shift to the side of the stronger glute.
After reading all of the exercises I’ve mentioned throughout this article, they should become a staple of your workouts. Not all have to be performed in the main portion of your workout, but at a bare minimum, they should be added into your warm ups. Trust me, after training your glutes to fire you will start to see a much improved performance in your deadlifts and squats.
As always, any questions drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,