Archives for the month of: December, 2012

If I’ve figured out one thing in my time as a trainer, it’s that women want nice butts. Men want nice butts too.  Who doesn’t like a nice butt?

Call it ridiculous, call it vain… whatever. I guarentee that 95% of people that workout do it to look good n’kked.

Why are people so afraid to admit that??

But I digress…

Anyway… I LOVE training the glutes. Not only do strong buns look nice, they’re absolutely vital for low back and knee health. Plus, because they’re so strong… training them just feels bad-ass. Today I’m going to give you some programming tips on what to do to shape up that booty (and it has nothing to do with Brazil). The training style actually has a lot of similarities to body-building style; because after all we are trying to get your butt bigger and more shapely.

STEP 1: Turn your butt on!

There’s no possible way to go from pancake-ass to bootylicous when you sit all day with turned off glutes. They simply get underutilized, under stimulated, and basically under developed. You’d be surprised how difficult it can be for some people to actually feel a contraction in their butt. This is where you might need a little help. If this is you, you need to stay at step one for a few weeks, until you can really contract the glutes without too much thought or effort. Eventually step one will be your warm up.

a) Side-lying Clams

Your glutes do 2 things: Extend your hips and externally rotate your femur. Here we are working on that external rotation. The trick is to keep the range of motion small and not let your top hip roll open. You’ll feel this in a very specific ‘side butt’ spot. Repeat 20x/side

b) Glute bridges

I’ve written alot about the hip bridge. I think it one of the most vital warm ups anyone can perform, whether you’re a gym newbie or an Olympic class lifter.

This one you really have to think about clenching the cheeks. Crack that walnut! What often goes wrong with this is that the hamstrings will take over and that’s a harmful muscular imbalance. Try doing the bridge with your feet together and knees out. This will again put you into external rotation and help fire the correct muscles. If you feel it more in your quads, try elevating your feet on a bench or box.

c) Hip flexor soft tissue work/Active stretch

It’s as simple as this: tight hip flexors will limit your range of motion and your ability to contract your glutes. If you can’t contract your glutes you can’t make them bigger!!

d) Banded bird dog or bird dog against wall.

e) Body weight single leg deadlift

In my opinion, nothing gets the glutes like the single leg deadlift. It’s best to start without weight so you can get the pattern down. Notice how the knee is slightly bent but the shin stays vertical, butt goes back, shoulders stay square, and spine stays neutral.

STEP 2: Lift some weights!

There are TONS of exercises that work the glutes, and I’m going to save the obvious ones for another day (squat, deadlift, and lunge). But here are some main lifts that you’ve probably never tried, and they’re aimed to get the most bang out of your booty-lifting buck.

a) Barbell Hip Thrusts

I don’t like to use the word isolate, but for lack of a better term the hip thrust is best way to isolate the glutes. If you have bumper plates available at your gym, they are the easiest to set up with, as getting into position can get awkward. Otherwise you’ll need a buddy to help you get under the bar until you’re strong enough for the 45’s.

There are obviously pre-cursors and regressions for this exercise which are sometimes a necessity, but alot of people have no problem doing/feeling these correctly with the right load.

b) Pull-Throughs

The pull through is actually a variation of the deadlift, but obviously the weight is loaded differently. All the same cues go for the pull through as the deadlift.

c) Kettlebell Swings

KB swings have many many benefits, and one of them is the intense glute contraction it requires. Think if it as an explosive deadlift. In the video, she keeps looking forward as she’s in the bottom position; try to fight that and keep your neck aligned. I often use the cue “Look down when you’re down, ahead when you’re up.”

d) Eccentric Step-Downs

In theory, we are stronger eccentrically than we are concentrically. In the eccentric step downs (or 3 second step downs) you focus on regular tempo going up, and fighting gravity for 3 seconds on the way down. This is very challenging so start with a smaller box if your having trouble.

e) Lateral Lunge

The lateral lunge gets the glutes in a different plane of motion than all of the other exercises. It’s important to work the lateral muscles in the legs and hips, and this is one of the best exercises for that purpose. It takes a significant amount of mobility, flexibility and control to complete a lateral lunge, so shorten the range of motion and/or depth if you find this difficult to do properly. Make sure you keep a neutral spine and load your posterior chain by sitting back.

3) Put it all together. 

You may be thinking that you have no idea how to organize all this mambo-jambo. Have no fear… I’m gunna do that for you. Your job is to customize it with your own weights as it’s all relative to your baseline strength. Just make sure you keep track each week to ensure your improvement.

Warm up: (to do after personalized warmup)
1) Foam roll as much as possible
2) Glute bridges 12x
3) Bird dogs 16x
4) T-spine rotation (hand on head) 10x/side
5) 1/2 kneel to Stand 5x/side
6) Squat to Stand 10x
7) Plank 30s

8) Kettlebell Swings 15x

(med) (low) (high)
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Weight Used
1A) Pull Throughs 3×8 4×8 3×12 Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Weight Used
1B) Barbell Deadlift 3×8 4×4 3×12 Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Weight Used
1C) Plank Birddog with pushup 3×8 4×4 3×12 Week 1  n/a
Week 2
Week 3
Weight Used
2A) Banded lateral walks 3×8 4×8 3×12 Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Weight Used
2B) Shoulders el. hip thrusts 3×8 4×10 3×12 Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Weight Used
2C) Single Arm push press 3×4/side 4×4/side 3×6/side Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Weight Used
3A) Eccentric Step down 3×4/side 4×4/side 3×6/side Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Weight Used
3B) Single Leg Deadlift 3×4/side 4x/side 3×8/side Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Weight Used
3C) Bent over row 3×8 4×8 3×12 Week 1
Week 2
  Week 3

Conclusion

Obviously these are all pretty advanced strength exercises, so find a trainer if you feel like you’re not sure how to execute them properly. These can also all be done starting with just your body weight to help build up your strength before using barbells or free weights.

Enjoy the program and get those glutes of steel!!

I ❤ Butts

-L

Just cause it’s cute

Believe it or not, there are other components to health besides exercise. (I hope you all sense my sarcasm there.)

Although I’m obviously partial to the ‘exercise’ piece of the puzzle, sometimes it doesn’t have to be your primary focus, per se.

The holidays are around the corner, the year is coming to an end, and people are generally busier with work deadlines, vacations and the likes. Formal exercise is usually not on the top of people’s priority lists. So instead of falling off the wagon completely,  it’s a good time to pay more attention to the other aspects of wellness.

1. Sleep

Instead of setting goals for strength or aesthetics this December, set goals for sleep. It is the most vital part of recovery, brain function, and even body composition. Logging hours in the sheets can be just as vital as logging hours in the gym.

2. Stress Management and Recovery

As I mentioned, the end of the year can be a stressful time. Make a conscious effort to take 5 minutes out of your day to de-stress. Sip a green tea without looking at your computer, read a magazine article, do some breathing drills, get up and stretch, call your mom, put your headphones on etc, etc. The key is to do something that actually relaxes you, and actually do it. 

If you have the means, I highly suggest scheduling a massage. I don’t know about you, but it’s on my list of Top 10 Most Awesome Things Ever. It’s one of the best things you can do for your muscles, and it makes you feel like a million bucks.

Buy a foam roller. Come on they’re like 20 dollars. I guarantee everyone reading this can find 15 minutes to spare at night to spend foam rolling. It’s a close second to an actual massage.

3. Nutrition

You had to know this one was coming. I understand this is the month of holiday parties, office treats, and the cop-out gifts of chocolate and disgusting flavored popcorn.

I may or may not have gotten this for Steve last year…

I challenge you to challenge that. Be the annoying one that brings a veggie platter instead of cupcakes. Trust me, people will eat it… and you might even get some thank you’s for the relief of the constant sugar binges.

Offer to make a healthy side dish to your holiday parties like garlic spinach or pumpkin quinoa.

Please: Go easy on the alcohol. I’m not gunna sit here and tell you to not have a good time during this season of celebration– but it’s no excuse to be a sloppy lush at every event. Besides, you don’ t want to come into work on Monday hearing that you ruled the office Stanky-Leg competition that you don’t remember participating in. It’s bad looks!

4. Enjoy Yourself!

The holiday’s are a time for reflection, gratitude, and celebration. Taking a second to think about all the positive things in your life can do wonders for your mental health and state of mind. Take it a step further and make someone else’s day. It can be a random compliment to a stranger, or a conversation thanking your best friend for always being there for you. Deposits in the bank as Stephen Covey would say (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People– highly recommend it).

For most people, it’s probably not realistic to expect to lose a lot of weight during the month of December.  Now is not the time to stress about an imperfect diet or missing a workout. Enjoy life and live a little.

However that is not a free pass to go buck-wild. If you plan appropriately and are at least conscious of your physical health, you can avoid gaining holiday weight and setting yourself back for the new year.

Happy December!!

-L