Archives for posts with tag: glutes

I bet if you got 50 strength coaches in a room and asked which was better: the squat or the deadlift, you’d get 25 coaches saying squat and 25 coaches saying deadlift.

Mass hysteria would ensue and it would look something like this:

Point being, I bet all would agree that both are vitally important in all strength programs. They are the king of all exercises for performance, health, and even fat loss.

Yeah I’d say he’s pretty lean…

However, I work in a commercial gym, and the LACK of squatting and deadlifting is really unfortunate. In reality, 85% of gym members do not work with a trainer, and I’d venture to say 85% of that 85% perform squats and deadlifts wrong, or don’t do them at all.

I’m not just writing this to be a jerk; I want you to know how to do it, and do it right! Most of the time, if I can get you to set-up properly, the movement will happen easily. In my opinion, external tactical feedback trumps all other forms of cues. It has many fancy names… but I just call it “feeling it.” The amount of times I say “How does it feel?” of “Where do you feel it?” throughout the day is borderline ridiculous. For example, one of my favorite uses for external feedback is using a wall for a side plank:

side plank

It is literally impossible to screw up because you have the wall (aka your “external tactical feedback”) to tell your body where it needs to be.

So how does this apply for squats and deadlifts? Well, you’ll need a box, small hand weights, some val-slides, and something heavy (kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, small child, etc)

To set up the squat:

  • Place the small hand weights at the edge of the box, slightly wider than hip-width apart
  • Stand with your heels up against the weights
  • With kettlebell or dumbbells held goblet style, sit back and down until your butt touches the box. (It’s there, I promise)
  • Pop your chest out like you own the place and stand up tall

To set up the deadlift:

  • Put your toes/midfoot on the bottom support bar of the box. That way you are automatically on your heels*
  • Place val-slides under your armpits and squeeze the crap out of them.
  • Push your hips back and grab the kettlebell
  • Grab the kettlebell and stand up tall

*For learning purposes only, should your toes be off the ground. Deadlifting can be a very unnatural feeling for beginners, and doing it this way teaches you to keep your weight on your heels. Once you get familiar with the movement and start doing heavier loads, having your feet completely on the ground is optimal for force production. 

Now go squat, ya monkey!

There are two kinds of people in this world…. Men…. and Women.

If you’re the latter of the two, chances are you wouldn’t hate to build a better backside. If you’re the former, chances are you want to be big and strong and up your BAMF factor. Guess what: squats and deadlifts are your fast track to awesome.




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


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


I am a big fan of spinning. It’s a good 45-60 minutes of interval training that usually consists of sprints and climbs. It’s excellent conditioning, easy on the joints, and not to mention with the right teacher… it’s just a good time.

However, I want to talk about reasons it may be good for female lifters other than the obvious.

This occurred to me while I was doing some post-deadlifting spinning on Saturday. Once I was in my groove, I thought how nice the position felt on my back. Like a lot of women (and serious lifters of either sex), I have an anterior pelvic tilt.

Basically what that translates to is elongated (and/or weak) hamstrings and hip flexors, and short spinal erectors. This imbalance can be caused from a number of things: wearing high heels, standing all day, power lifting etc. Often times, anterior tilt can be to blame for the feeling of ‘tight hamstrings.’ People think they need to stretch more, which actually exacerbates the problem and is the opposite of what they need to be doing.

 Obviously, when anything is imbalanced, it can cause issues or pain when training. To help correct anterior tilt, the prescription is usually some direct lower abdominal and hamstring work.  The reverse crunch and stability ball hamstring curls are two effective exercises for this.

Now you may be asking how spinning fits in with all of this.

My only gripe with spinning is that it puts most people that are sitting all day… in a seated position some more. Now we all know that hosts a plethora of postural imbalances from tight hip flexors/weak glutes to tight pecs/weak upper back.

So these people should make sure to do some supplementary stretching of the hip flexors, quads, and chest, as well as strengthening the glutes and upper back.

However, for those of us that live in anterior tilt, a spin class might serve as a 45-minute-corrective-cardio-sweat sesh! The motion of spinning heavily works the hip flexors and hamstrings, while putting the low back on stretch. This is exactly what anterior tilt needs for corrective exercise!

In fact upon thinking about it, when I first started at Fitcorp I used to take spin classes frequently to supplement lifting. Then once my schedule started getting crazy spin fell to the way side. Coincidentally my low back started giving me problems. Who knows if that’s cause and effect but it definitely got my wheels turning.

Pun intended.

I think it’s valuable for everybody who exercises to have an understanding of their alignment. This is obviously a very individualized issue so unfortunately there is no blanket program for everybody. Whether it’s through an awesome trainer at Fitcorp (*cough*), a physical therapist, a chiropractor or the likes, everybody needs some form of exercise to improve and maintain good posture.

On another note, I may or may not get a post in before Thanksgiving, but if not, I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday! I’m personally looking forward to my aunt’s famous pumpkin ravioli. Okay… looking forward is an understatement; I LIVE for this day 😀

Try not to overeat TOO much, and don’t forget to come to the Turkey Throwdown this Wednesday morning!

Happy Monday!


Happy Monday!

Let’s just get this one out of the way: We’re not going to talk about the Patriots. The end.

Anywho… We had an another amazing fall weekend weather wise and I hope you all got out to enjoy it. Alas, Monday has come again so here’s your WUOTW!


A) Foam roll Adductors – self myofascial release

Play the roller at a 45 degree angle in front of you and open up one leg to get your inner thigh on the roller. Roll extra slow in this area as it’s easy to go to quickly and miss some tension spots. Since it’s such a big area to cover, I suggest going from groin to mid thigh, then move the roller and go mid thigh to knee. Most people will feel more tension either closer to the thigh or closer to the knee. Make sure you find where you feel the pain and spend some time on it.

B) Single leg Glute bridges- hip mobility, glute activator, hip stabilizer

The SL glute bridge is harder than it looks and can be butchered if not done carefully. The idea here is to keep your hips square as you come up and don’t let your non working leg sag. This requires incredible strength and stability, so if you’re not there yet… go back to double leg bridges. This sometimes causes hamstring cramps, and that is not a good thing. Go back to double leg and make sure you’re feeling it in your glutes and not your hamstrings.

C) Bent to straight leg heel taps- core activator, anterior pelvic tilt corrective

Bring the straight leg closer to the ground

Keeping the upper half stable and making your lower body the levers will activator your lower core.  Keep your low back pushed into the floor to keep your abs on and protect your back.

D) Body weight walking lunges- movement prep, single leg stability, proprioception/coordination, lower body activation

Keep your torso as tall as possibly and drive through your front heel to stand yourself up. Make sure you take big enough steps so your knee doesn’t track over your front toe.



Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. We finally had some sunshine this weekend here in Boston. I celebrated my Italian heritage on Sunday and made it down to the north end for St. Anthony’s Feast. I may or may not have had an eggplant parm sub. (I did, and it was ahhhsome.) It was a lovely day and I got in about 3 hours of walking with some friends around the city. Sometimes it’s nice to not have a formal workout on the weekends but rather just get out and do something physically active. That can be the best physical AND mental recovery for a long week of working hard in the gym and in the office.

However, we’re somehow back to Monday and it’s time to get back at it!

Here’s your WUOTW:

1. Knee banded side lying clams- Glute activation, glute medius activation

Lay on your side with a mini band around your knees. Bring your knees to your chest so your hips and knees are at 90 degrees. Make sure your hips, knees and feet all stay stacked (especially when you start moving). Keep your feet together and open your knees. This should not be a big range of motion; you should feel the burn on the side of your butt after a few reps. Perform 10-15 per side.

2. Supine 45 degree leg lowers- active hamstring stretch, core activator, tri-planar movement

This is a progression from the standard leg lowers. Instead of going straight down with the moving leg, you’re going to bring it slightly out to 45 degrees. You will feel this more in the inner and outer thigh. Repeat 10x/side.

3. T-spine extensions on Foam Roller- Tspine mobilization

Start with the foam roller wedged at the top of your low back. Knees bent, feet flat, butt on the floor, support your head with your hands. Let gravity do the work and lean back as far as possible. This probably will feel pretty uncomfortable. Repeat 5 times, roll the FR up a couple segments toward your head. This position will feel better and more mobile than the first.  Repeat another 5 times.

Warning: Be cautious that you’re not using your lumbar spine for extension, which looks like this:

Substituting lumbar extension for thoracic does no good.

Prevent that by contracting your abs and exhaling as your go backwards. This will lock your lumbar into place and force to use your t-spine for extension.

4.  Slow motion single leg mountain climber- core + upper body activator, hip flexor activator, movement prep for step-ups

Use a slider or sock

Put yourself in plank position with 1 toe on a slider. Slowly bring your knee to your chest as far as possible without letting your low back curve under. Repeat 10x/side.

5. Body weight step ups- – glute, hamstring, quad, and core activator

Pick a height were you can step up without excessive forward lean. Make sure you’re using your glutes and hamstrings and push your butt back when you step down. Try to load your knees as little as possible.