Fitness, Whole Health

Essential Glutes

Many of the jobs/careers out there require extended periods of sitting.  When sitting too much for too long, the glutes (buttock muscles) begin to not work as efficiently as they should.  This leads to tightening and shortening of the hip flexor muscles which can lead to injury, back pain, obesity and osteoporosis.

Also, other muscles will begin compensate, taking on the work load.  The hamstrings, low back, quadriceps and calves may become too strong in comparison creating imbalance, increasing the risk of injury.

Strong glutes:

  • Stabilize the pelvis for walking and running to prevent injuries at the hip, knee, and ankle.  (Weak glutes can contribute to pulled muscles in your hamstring or groin.)
  • Help with back pain – strong glutes support the back.  When the glutes strong, the lower back doesn’t bear the brunt of activity.
  • Improve athletic performance – gain speed and agility with stronger glutes
  • Increase power- a stronger gluteus maximus buttock muscle, largest muscle in the body, works to create lots of power to improve daily life.
  • Give the body a nice shape.

To strengthen the glutes train them about once a week.  Start with an aerobic warm up for about 10 minutes, then perform the exercises described below to build your glutes:

  Hip Bridge
  • Lie on your back with knees bent, feet about shoulder width apart and flat on the floor.
  • Pushing through the heels, press hips up toward the ceiling.  Maintain back, hips and thighs in a straight line.
  • Hold for a couple of seconds.
  • Repeat 10 -20 times.
  Lunge, with or without dumbbell
  • Stand with legs shoulder width apart (wide stance), back straight and head up. May hold dumbbell in each hand at sides.
  • Step forward, bending both legs simultaneously until thigh of front leg is parallel to the floor.  The heel of the back foot will come off the floor.
  • Straighten legs to rise up.
  • Repeat action on same side for 8-12 reps.
  • Switch sides, and repeat action for 8-12 reps.
  Squat, with or without dumbbell
  • Stand with head up, back straight and feet pointed slightly out.  May hold dumbbell in each hand at sides.
  • Squat by bending knees and pushing hips out behind until thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Keep abdominal muscles tight; maintain body weight on heels.
  • Push through heels to stand back up to standing/starting position.
  • Repeat action for 8-12 reps.
  Standing Side Leg Lift, with or without leg weight
  • Stand with head up, back straight and feet about hip distance apart, toes pointed forward. May use leg weight with this exercise.
  • Lift right leg out quickly.  (May hold onto a support, if needed.)
  • Slowly lower it back to start position, taking 3-5 seconds to do so.
  • Repeat 10 – 20 times
  • Repeat action with left leg, 10 – 20 times.
  Step Up, with or without dumbbell
  • Keeping head up and back straight, place right foot on a bench, step or a box.  May hold dumbbell in each hand at sides.
  • Bring left leg up toward chest, then place left foot on the step-up surface, so that both feet are now on the step-up surface.
  • Step down with the left foot, keeping right foot on the step-up surface.
  • Repeat on both sides, doing 15 reps on each side.
  Kick Back – with or without leg weight
  • Get down on ‘hands and knees’.  May use leg weight with this exercise.
  • Bring left leg to chest, keeping hips level.
  • Now drive leg back and up so that it is straight out and slightly up.  Contract glutes and hold the contraction at the top for a couple of seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat the process with the right leg.
  • Repeat, alternating legs.
  • Complete 20 reps on each side.
  Wall Sit
  • Stand with back against a wall.
  • Slide down until knees are at a 90 degree angle, thighs parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for 20 – 60 seconds, or more.
Fitness

The Benefits of Exercising on an Elliptical Trainer

Strengthen the Cardiovascular System, Get a Total Body Workout and Burn Lots of Calories.  These are the benefits of exercising on an Elliptical Trainer.

Exercising on an elliptical greatly reduces excessive pressure on the joints while providing for a beneficial cardiovascular workout. In addition to exercising the heart, the elliptical works the muscles in the lower body:

  • thigh muscles (quadricep & hamstring)
  • gluteal muscles (buttocks)
  • hip flexors (located at the front of the hips); help to bring the thigh toward the chest.

You can get a low or high intensity workout by adjusting the speed, resistance and stride length on the elliptical while decreasing the possibility of injuries along with exerting the leg muscles and heart.  Speed up your pulse and heart rate on the elliptical.  Going in reverse on the elliptical works well too. Stepping in a backward motion works the gluteals, calves and hamstrings, while stepping forward works the quadriceps.

It is important to change up your workout routine. Variety during exercise will:

  • keep your body from getting used to a single movement
  • promote the build up of muscle mass
  • continue the boost to metabolism.

By going “hands-free” (not using the railings on the elliptical trainer) you will improve your balance and posture.

Stand up straight when on the elliptical to lengthen the abs and engage the core. Keep the abs (abdominal muscles) tight.  Use the arm levers to work both the upper and lower body at the same time. Keep the shoulders back and head up. Look forward, not down at your feet, let the lower body support your weight. Do not lean on machine armrests during exercise (that will reduce the calorie burn).

Don’t forget about interval training (see the related blog on this website). To do intervals on the elliptical you may either:

  • maintain the resistance and increase pace (go fast for 1 minute then recover at a slower pace for 2 to 4 minutes)

OR

  • maintain your speed and increase the resistance (high resistance for 1 minute then recover for 2 to 4 minutes at a more comfortable resistance).

You can burn up to 400 calories in a 30 minute workout while exercising on the elliptical. It provides for a heart-healthy, aerobic exercise.  It is a good exercise option because it burns lots of calories in a short amount of time and is low impact.

As with any exercise, consult your physician before using elliptical equipment.