Thoughtful Thursday: ENGAGE THE GLUTES!
Hey y’all! So excited to have you guys checking out this week’s blog! Today’s blog is going to talk about how to recruit your glutes while running and biking in order to maximize speed, power, and prevent injury!
Why are the glutes are important?
Before we get started lets make sure everyone know what I’m talking about when I talk about the “glutes”. The glutes are your butt muscles, plain and simple. They are a very important muscle group for life because they are responsible for a lot of what happens in our legs from our hips to our knees and down to our toes. The glutes are actually made up of three different muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. All three of these muscles work together to propel us forward and when working properly help to keep our hips, knees, and ankles in good alignment during running and biking.
What is the main function of the glutes?
The glutes as a whole work in two main ways. They function to cause hip extension, which is the motion that occurs when you are brining your leg back behind you. This is the push-off portion of the running stride and what gives us our propulsion or push forward over the ground. As runners a lot of us substitute for weak or inactive glutes by using smaller muscles like our calves and hamstrings to help with this propulsion in our running, but ultimately they are a poor substitute because they fatigue faster and are not nearly as powerful as the glutes are. In short, using the glutes will help make you faster simply because it’s a bigger, more powerful muscle that is less resistant to fatigue…once it is trained. It’s going to take a while to get used to recruiting your glutes for running, but once you do you will really notice a difference in your power and speed… especially at the end of races and on the hills!
The other function of the glutes is to control the motion of the hips from side to side. They help to prevent what is known as hip drop, which refers to the hips dropping down on one side as you walk or run. Some people refer to this motion as the model walk where when your put your weight on your right leg, your hips “drop” on the left side. Next time you go out in public, watch people walk and I guarantee you will see someone who has hip drop… its everywhere! Hip drop puts a lot of stress on the hips, but also puts unnecessary stress on your knees and ankles and is the root of many injuries experienced by runners and triathletes.
What can I do to start using my glutes?
1. Run hills!!! Hills are great because they put your body in a position where the glutes want to fire. As you run up the hill, really think about squeezing your butt muscles and driving those knees up. This will help turn on those glute muscles and teach them to work in the motion of running!
2. Dynamic Warm Up! For the purposes of this blog, a dynamic warm up is a few simple exercises that target the muscles you are getting ready to use. So for me, when I’m getting ready to run I perform 5 exercises that target my glutes so that they are warmed up, firing, and ready to be used once I start my run! A couple of simple examples are body weight squats, walking lunges, and glute bridges. Try these out and see what you think! Also keep your eyes peeled as next week I am rolling out my 5 dynamic warm up exercises totally free!
3. Weight lifting! Please keep reading!!!! For all my runners who are scared of weight lifting, please keep reading! I can say from personal experience that weight lifting has helped me so much in my running performance. First of all, weight lifting will not make you big while you are running. I’m gonna say it again, WEIGHT LIFTING WILL NOT MAKE YOU BIG IF YOU ARE RUNNING OR BIKING! Your body does not build bulky muscle through weight lifting while you are running. (That is a whole blog post in itself… but that’ll be later). What weight lifting does is it supplements the running to help our body use our big muscle groups better and help improve your baseline strength in the muscle groups in our legs. By performing functional, multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges, you can improve your ability to use your glutes while running and as a result improve your speed, power, and overall performance.
Guys, that’s all I’ve got for this week. Hope you enjoyed reading this blog about how to engage your glutes for running and biking. As always, please subscribe on YouTube, follow on Facebook and Instagram, and look for my 5 dynamic warm up exercises to be released next week!
Have a great weekend y’all!