A great analogy that I like is that the balance between training and recovery is like digging a hole. Each time you lift, you dig yourself deeper and make it harder to climb out of the hole. To get back out again, you have to fill in the hole to return to ground level, and the only way to fill it is with food and rest. If you overdo it in the gym by pushing too hard, you won’t be able to train as often or at a high capacity. Eventually, you’ll get injured.
The first step that needs to be taken is to determine if the tightness is due to a true lack of flexibility (perform the Thomas test above) or if it is because of weakness in the muscle itself. Once that is determined you need to focus on reducing the tension felt in the hip flexor and improving core control/stability so that the issue does not return. As with any condition, the root cause must be found (the root cause is not often at the site of pain) in order to get long lasting relief. This is why so many people unfortunately have to deal with this issue for several months or even years…..because the root cause was never found and they were just given generic information to “open up the hips” or “just stretch more”. Below are some common exercises I like to give to patient’s to start out with to help alleviate this condition. (Please keep in mind that every individual patient has different needs but these exercises tend to work in MOST cases.) The first hip flexor exercise involves actually strengthening the hip flexor while focusing on a neutral spine for core stability.
How to do it: Firmly plant your feet on the platform of a Power Plate machine, and turn it on to the vibration setting you’re comfortable with. Exercise your full range of motion as you “pulse” by bending your knees slightly at 80-90° in a squat position. “Vibration training uses time under tension, so complete squat pulses for 30-60 seconds,” Reames says. This is one set. Because the Power Plate works by vibrating across three planes: vertical, horizontal, and up and down, your body is forced to make microadjustments, which can improve your strength, power, flexibility, balance, and muscle tone.
The hip flexors are prone to becoming tight and shortened. They are active with each step that we take, especially while running. A major contributing factor to their tightness is that based on their location and anatomical attachments, when we sit, we are putting the hip flexors in a shortened position. Unfortunately, many of us spend a good part of our day sitting. The combination of sitting and heavy use of the muscle during activity causes it to become shortened. A shortened muscle does not generate as much power as a normal length muscle is capable of. The shortening and weakening of the hip flexors creates a muscle imbalance in the hip, which can cause problems in other parts of the body.
When it comes to building lean muscle, size bodybuilders are king. That’s their ultimate goal. Sure, Crossfit, powerlifting and all the other modalities will build muscle, but that’s not their focus. They want performance and any muscle they build is a side effect. Not so with bodybuilding where muscle size and shape are the priorities. Learning how to build muscle for the sake of building muscle has some benefits to the performance athlete. It allows for ais less injury prone. Its also a fact that bigger muscle contract harder regardless of technique or form, so it’s a good strategy to throw in some bodybuilder muscle building sessions here and there to give yourself stronger muscles to then train for performance. Build the muscle bigger, then train it to perform better.
Your standard lunge does a nice job of making your derriere stronger, but to get glutes that function at their best, you need to start moving sideways, too. You see, when you do a side lunge or skaters, for example, you strengthen muscles in your outer hips. And strong outer hips can help you steer clear knee injuries. Plus, the sideways moves engage glute muscles so they can reap all the benefits of lower-body exercises. Not sure where to start? These exercises will help inspire you to work your glutes at a new angle.
Most typical bodybuilding programs have way too many sets and reps and use the wrong exercises. However, if you lower the total volume, go heavier, and use compound movements as I’ve outlined above, there is nothing wrong with a body-part split for advanced lifters. In fact, it’s often less stressful to the joints than your average upper/lower split.
But, what about fats? Well, our body fat is the home for fats. Whatever fats not used for energy will be stored as fat. That’s the point of fat. This doesn’t mean fats make us fat, sure fats lead to direct fat gain, but this doesn’t mean weight gain. Fat vs weight gain is different. Fat gain can only lead to weight gain if you eat in a calorie surplus. Even if carbs to stored as fat, if you aren’t in a surplus…this fat will be used, so it doesn’t matter this is got stored as fat. Just stop filling up your glycogen levels unless you are always depleting then. Same with fats, just because they increase fat doesn’t mean they make us fat. INCREASED FAT VS INCREASED WEIGHT is different. If we eat fat we store fat. If we eat carbs we store carbs. If we store fat, that fat will only remain their and contribute to weight gain IF it’s not used for energy. If it’s used for energy then we are in a deficit unless we eat out way back to a surplus.
A: Start with the calculations above but don’t be afraid to adjust up or down. Your metabolism and physiology will adapt to more food by trying to maintain homeostasis and regulate your bodyweight. Some may have to increase more than others but the number on the scale doesn’t lie. If it’s not going up, then you probably need to increase your calories.
Of course, you know what it feels like to have a tight muscle. But tight hips aren't just uncomfortable—they can lead to all sorts of other aches and pains, especially in the lower back. "People focus on the hips and say their hips are tight, but we don't always think about the fact that the lower back connects to our legs at the hip," Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S., instructor at Soul Annex in New York City and creator of Le Stretch class, tells SELF. Tight hip flexors make it harder for your pelvis to rotate properly, which can cause your lower back to overcompensate, "and this can be a setup for lower-back injury," Teo Mendez, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at NY Orthopedics who focuses on operative and non-operative management of sports-related injuries, musculoskeletal injuries, and arthritis, tells SELF.
A: Depending upon your experience level, preference, recovery capacity, and time available, you’ll likely find that 3-5 strength training sessions per week is the sweet spot. If you’re just getting started with weight training, then you should stick with 3 days per week and work your way up. Novices and early intermediates can handle 4 days per week with a split such as an upper lower and seasoned intermediate lifters may be able to handle 5 sessions per week depending upon the programming, recovery, and nutrition strategies that are in place.
"[Your glutes are] one of the workhorses of the body," says Jordan Metzl, M.D., an exercise physician and author of The Exercise Cure. "You use them all the time." Your glutes help support your body when you stand, help you push off the ground, and give you better balance in general, he says. So when your glutes are strong, every activity you do—from running to golfing to just walking—is positively impacted.
Any exercise that works and/or stretches the buttocks is suitable, for example lunges, hip thrusts, climbing stairs, fencing, bicycling, rowing, squats, arabesque, aerobics, and various specific exercises for the bottom. Weight training exercises which are known to significantly strengthen the gluteal muscles include the squat, deadlift, leg press, any other movements involving external hip rotation and hip extension.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width with a kettlebell about a foot in front of you. With your weight in your heels, hinge at your hips while lowering your hands to the kettlebell handle. Grab the kettlebell with an overhand grip, “Hike” the kettlebell back between your legs, catching the force of the moving kettlebell with your hips. Exhale as you swing the kettlebell forward by thrusting your hips, straightening your legs, and squeezing your glutes and abs. Once the kettlebell reaches chest height, inhale as you allow it to fall, and guide it back to the “hiked” position.