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Get Your Glutes in Gear: 4 Must-Try Leg Day Exercises

I once had a patient who told me one day with a serious look on his face that he had a new diagnosis. I knew he was a guy with a good sense of humor, so I was waiting for the punch line of the joke. He said, " I have noa&$itis".

It doesn't matter what age you are, you need to have good glute strength. I remind people often that it is the powerhouse of all movement, your stability, and your center of balance. The gluteal muscles are not alone and you must have the deep hip stabilizers (rotator cuff of the hips) for optimal glute function.

There are many aspects to strengthening the gluteals to consider. The first of these is strengthening your hips. Some exercises are better than others. Many researchers have used EMG (electromyography) to measure the best exercises that activate the gluteal muscles. Then again the best exercises are also chosen to minimize compensation of the tensor fascia lata, which is located toward the front of the hip. When this muscle is compensating for the glutes, the muscle may create unwanted hip motion that may worsen knee, hip, or back pain. This was evident in a research study done with 11 different hip exercises commonly used for fitness and rehabilitation noted in J. Orthop Phys Ther 2013; 43(2): 65. These four exercises were recommended by the researchers especially if you have knee, hip or back pain.

Number One: Clamshell

While laying on your side with knees bent around 45 degrees, rotate the top leg upward. Begin with 2-3 sets of 10 reps. You will have increased strength gains with a resistance band just above the knees.

Number Two: Single-Leg Bridge

While lying down on your back with one knee bent and the other leg straight, lift your hips off the floor using the bent knee leg. Always begin with abdominal bracing prior to and during the lift. Again begin with 2-3 sets of 10 reps on each side.

Number Three: Hip Extension on All Fours

While on hands and knees, extend one leg upward (Easier with the knee bent, harder with the leg straight). Begin with 2-3 sets of 10 reps.

Number Four: Side Step

While in a squat position, take small steps sideways while keeping your toes pointed forward. If you do not have pain, it is also very good to work with toes outward or inward to work deep hip muscles. You can choose your distance with your current tolerance at least 10 feet and 5-10 reps in each direction.

If you want to strengthen your glutes, you need to start with these exercises and build up. You can work one-on-one with me to make sure you are doing the right exercises for you and progressing without risking injury. If you have knee, hip, or back pain, I not only address the exercises you need but also other types of therapy sometimes including hands-on manual therapy. We can discuss your goals and focus on getting you strong and preventing injury.

Contact me through my website:

#Live Inspired,

Karen Baltz Gibbs, PT, DPT, CSCS, LMT, CMP, Owner of Garage Training & Rehab Gym

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