Learn to engage these sleeping giants for a fat-burning,
head-to-toe power boost
Olson was just 27, but his 1.9m, 115kg body felt twice as old.
His back hurt
all the time, from the moment he woke up and headed to work.
It hurt when he
sat at his desk for eight hours straight every day, and after work when he’d
step gingerly over the line at his weekly beer league touch rugby games.
looking at a barbell in the gym sent a shudder down his spine.
Olson exercised regularly and played sports all the time, but his
back pain was always there, to the point that he thought something might be
Exasperated, he sought the advice of a trainer, who pointed out the
problem: Olson had a weak ass.
Read more: 5 secrets to increasing size and strength with bodyweight exercises
alone. Men so commonly let their backsides slide that it’s even a syndrome:
glute amnesia, when your butt muscles go to sleep and become weak.
We can thank our sedentary lifestyle for letting our largest, most
metabolically active muscles turn into pillow cushions.
“No matter what sport or day-to-day activity you’re doing, good
glute strength is crucial for endurance, power, and pain prevention,” says
Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine doctor.
Four months after Olson started targeting his glutes, his back
pain was virtually gone.
so many other positive cascade effects, too,” he says. “I was more flexible, my
posture improved and I had a lot more muscle. Everything from walking up the
stairs to playing touch felt better.”
Your butt consists of three distinct muscles – the gluteus maximus, gluteus
medius and gluteus minimus – that attach your torso to your legs along a number
of points, including the sacrum, pelvis and femur.
Your glutes make it possible for you to walk upright, move and
swivel your hips every which way, and rotate your legs.
“A weak butt puts more pressure on your lower back, knees,
hamstrings and hips, increasing the likelihood of a strain,” says Dr Metzl. He
sees many men in his office with conditions that can be chalked up to poor
glute strength, especially lower back pain and Achilles tendinitis.
Read more: Thrust your way to a stronger, faster and more injury-resistant body
Pro sports scouts are ass men. That’s because a strong butt is critical to any
exercise requiring speed and strength.
Think of your backside like an engine, says Dr Metzl. It powers
you forward and helps you harness the force from other muscles for even more
strength and speed. Doing your favourite activities on a weak, underdeveloped
rear is like trying to run your car with a lawnmower engine.
“Whether you’re lifting, jumping or sprinting, your glutes are key
to tapping into that explosive push-off strength that comes from extending your
hips,” says Dr Metzl.
That power’s not just for smashing a tennis or golf ball, jumping
for a rebound or pulling a big deadlift; the extra juice can also give you more
endurance for a hike or run or even when mowing the lawn.
Read more: Explosive power and cardio drills
The number one mistake guys make is assuming that they’ve got their glutes
covered by their favourite activity or through exercises like squats and
lunges, says sports scientist Bret Contreras.
“To really improve your overall strength and performance, limit
injury and change the way you look in a pair of tight pants, you need to train
your glutes directly and more often.” (To do that, see “Fire Up Your Hustle Muscles”.)
Like Olson, Tyler Fiorillo, a 25-year-old law student, knows firsthand what
working the glutes can do. When he added two targeted glute exercises – a hip
thrust and a standing kickback using a resistance band – to his regularly
scheduled leg presses, his performance exploded.
“They were such small movements, but some months later I surpassed
my squat and deadlift goals by about 20 kilos.”
Read more: Build your glutes with the barbell hip thrust
Fiorillo restructured his programme by adding glute exercises, he had to buy
new drawstring shorts – he’d dropped 6kg.
Your glutes are the largest muscles in your body, so working them
has a huge calorie-burning benefit.
“I hear it all the time from guys who start training their glutes
– they get more compliments from women and feel better about their physique,”
This article was originally published on www.mh.co.za
Image credit: iStock