Hip flexors. These hardworking muscles are crucial in foundational movements such as sitting, standing, walking and running — they act as a bridge connecting your torso to your lower body. Some muscles in this group can be notoriously weak or tight and those of you who have ever had issues with this part of your body will know the uncomfortable pain of either all too well. There’s a lot of debate in the world of sports science over how much you should strengthen and stretch your hip flexors — we’ll explain.
K. Aleisha Fetters, M.S., C.S.C.S., is a Chicago-based personal and online trainer. She has a graduate degree in health and science reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and regularly contributes to Men's Health, Women's Health, USNews.com, TIME, and SHAPE. When she's not lifting something heavy, she's usually guzzling coffee and writing about the health benefits of doing so.
Stand with your feet at shoulder width and position a heavy kettlebell between your feet. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees while lowering your hands to the kettlebell handle. Your shins should stay vertical. Gripping the handle, exhale as you drive through our heels to extend your hips and rise to standing. Inhale as you slowly lower the kettlebell back toward the ground by hinging at the hips and allowing your knees to bend as needed. Do 10 reps.
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.
Heath suggests incorporating dropsets into your training routine by immediately decreasing the weight and repping out again to failure. “Dropsets overload the muscle with shorter rest periods and increasing volume which you need to grow,” says Heath. “That overload improves your body’s abilities to utilize more nutrients, natural growth hormone, and natural testosterone into those areas and makes the supplements you take more effective.” Heath’s favorite way to do dropsets is on a pin-loaded machine since it’s faster to switch weights.
The second half of the program is all about maximizing size with slightly higher reps and an emphasis on intensity. Rep ranges move up to 10-12 for most exercises, which is ideal for promoting muscle hypertrophy (growth). Overall volume increases slightly during these two weeks, mainly due to the addition of isolation exercises that you’ll perform before compound movements for your chest, back, shoulders and legs. Called pre-exhaustion, this technique dramatically increases workout intensity. You fatigue the main target muscle with an isolation exercise, then hit it in this fatigued state with a compound move, which if done right will lead to your main muscle failing before assistance muscles give out. (For example, for chest the dumbbell flye hits the pecs directly, so your triceps shouldn’t end up being the weak link and cause the termination of the set during the bench press).
Many people eat two or three meals a day and the occasional protein shake (when they remember), and then wonder why they're not putting on weight. To increase muscle mass, you have to have excess energy (calories and protein) in your system - supplied by regular small meals throughout the day. Most people have no idea how many calories they need. Do you? You may find that eating until you're full is not enough, especially if you're eating the wrong sort of calories (i.e. all carbs and no protein!). Protein is the priority followed by carbs then fat, but all are important and play a part in building mass and size.
Go: Bending your right knee slightly and keeping your left leg straight and locked, hinge at the hips to lower your torso toward the floor, using the weight as a counterbalance as your left leg comes up in a straight line behind you. With contracted abs, squeeze your right glute and hamstring as you pull your torso back to vertical. Repeat for reps before switching legs.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2019, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles in the front of the hip that act to lift the knee and bring the thigh towards the abdomen. The major muscles making up the hip flexors that we will focus on are the iliacus and the psoas, or the iliopsoas and the rectus femoris. The rectus femoris is a “two joint muscle” because it crosses both the hip and knee joints. As a group, the hip flexors have attachments on the lumbar spine, the pelvis, and the femur. In addition to their major function of flexing the hip, their attachment on the spine makes them an important part of the core muscles and spinal stabilizers.
Achy knees are often written off as an inevitable side effect of getting older. And while it’s true knee pain has many age-related causes (namely, arthritis), chances are weak glutes are a big part of the problem, Kline says. If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, strengthening your glutes can at least help offset some of the pain you might experience, she says.
As a parting thought, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of consistency and staying focused. Your workouts shouldn’t be two-hour affairs—each visit to the gym needs to be fast-paced and intense. With that as your guide and following the heavy-duty blueprint laid out here, we can’t promise it’ll be easy, but the results should be worth every drop of sweat. Just think, 10 more muscular pounds may be a mere month away.
Lefkowith put together a bodyweight workout, below, that does just that. While weights and resistance bands are great tools for building strength, she says that sometimes it's easier to focus on contracting the right muscles when there's no equipment involved. "You aren't concerned about the numbers you can lift or the reps you can do but what you actually feel working," Lefkowith says.
Beach muscles and Olympic lifts draw more attention. But the many little stabilizer muscles around your shoulders, hips, and midsection — collectively the core — provide a strong foundation. Challenging the stability and mobility of these key muscles with medicine balls, physioballs, mini-bands, and rotational movements (lifting, chopping) pays huge dividends.
From here, push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower your body into a squat, not letting your knees cave in as you do so. Pause at the bottom for two seconds, then squeeze your glutes to return to standing. That’s one rep. Perform two sets of 10 reps, or as many as you can until you feel it in your legs. Aim to do this exercise three to four times per week.
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to having weak and tight hip flexors as they are always in the shortened position. Tight hip flexors can lead to a limited range of motion, poor posture, lower back, and hip pain, and even injuries. These muscles need to get a workout when you are standing and doing movements such as raising your leg to climb stairs, run, or ride a bicycle.
Of the three, protein will of course play the most important role in the muscle building process (like calories, it’s one our required “supplies”), although fat and carbs will still be important for other reasons which range from optimizing hormone production (e.g. testosterone, the muscle building hormone) to enhancing training performance and recovery.
While there are many reasons why an individual might have weak glute muscles, one of the main causes is that many of us are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Many jobs now involve people sitting down for a big part of their day, or after a long day of work we go home and sit on the couch; this means that the gluteus muscles can become dormant more than they should be. Another reason why someone might have weak glutes could be because of poor form and generally over-relying on other muscles during everyday movements, which contributes further to the muscles remaining inactive.
If you’re new to training, then check out some of the options found on the site and run them exactly as the author intended them to be executed. Too many young guns want to alter every training variable rather than running the program as written and focusing on getting stronger. No, you don’t need an entire day dedicated to arms when you can’t even complete a single chin-up.
The three players that make up your glutes are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The maximus is pretty much the M.V.P. It creates the shape of your butt and works anytime you raise your thigh to the side, rotate your leg, or thrust your hips forward. The other two, the medius and minimus, work together to aid your gluteus maximus in raising your leg to the side. Plus, those smaller glute muscles help rotate your thigh outwards when your leg is straight, and inwards when your hips are bent. Talk about a dream team! (To learn more about the workings of your glutes, check out The Women's Health Big Book of Exercises!)
Imagine not being able to climb stairs, bend over, or even walk Changes in hip joint muscle-tendon lengths with mode of locomotion. Riley, P.O., Franz, J., Dicharry, J., et al. Center for Applied Biomechanics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Gait & Posture, 2010 Feb; 31 (2): 279-83.. All pretty essential if you ask us! But that’s what our bodies would be like without our hip flexor muscles. Never heard of ‘em? It’s about time we share why they’re so important, how your desk job might be making them weaker (ah!), and the best ways to stretch them out.
(3) This is where I explain the parentheses: The liver and the muscles contain glucose storages. Glucose all chilling together hanging out stored is/are called glycogen. When these storages become full, then glucose will spill over and get stored in our fat cells just like fat does. Why? The glucose “needs to go somewhere”, it’s not just gonna chill circulating around the body. (I’ll explain “needs to go somewhere” in point 6) FAT does not mean looking like Santa, fat is stored energy. Carbs only lead to fat gain when there is a spillover. Fats only lead to fat gain when that fat isn’t used for energy. *keep reading
To make that motion more natural, glute-building exercises are key. Ones that require hip motion or balancing on one leg, like these from John Henwood, running coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, are best: They fire the glutes to help you stabilize and stay upright. Do one set of 15 to 20 reps, two or three days per week, and say hello to a stronger stride.
The gluteus maximus can be your best friend when it comes to safely performing backbends. Yet overusing this big muscle by clenching your butt as you backbend can lead to irritation and injury in the spine and sacroiliac (SI) joint. In order to mitigate excessive spinal compression in backbends, it’s helpful to use the buttocks and adductors (inner thighs) to support the weight of the pelvis, hips, and spine. Work on the following actions:
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.
(11) “you can’t burn fat (lose weight) and build muscle at the same time” - you can. Protein builds muscle. A deficit loses weight. What you can’t do is : You can’t burn fat and store fat at the same time as you burn, then store. You can’t lose weight and gain weight at the same time. BUT, you can do all this in a day. Ever heard “fat burning” stops if you eat carbs? This is because that body can’t burn carbs and burn fat at the same time. It has to be one or the other. So if you are always eating, then you eventually hit a surplus, because the body is always storing fat. It can’t even burn dietary fat and burn body fat at the same time. It’s one or the other. What does this mean? Eating less = burning less = storing less. May be hard to understand over text, but’s it’s the same as: eat carbs = burn carbs = store carbs AND eat fats = burn fats = store fats AND eat carbs and fats = burn carbs and fats = store carbs and fats. Ever head “sugar burner” vs “fat burner”. Well, which one are you eating more? Fats or Carbs? Bingo! Eat more carbs and you burn more carbs = sugar burner. Eat more fats and your burn more fats = fat burner. Make sense? Don’t worry about losing weight and building muscle at the same time, just hit each angle. Protein for muscle. Deficit for weight loss via fat.
A: The literature supports roughly 0.8-1 gram per pound of bodyweight in young adults. Can you eat more? As long as you have healthy, functioning kidneys, yes. Will you receive any further physiological benefit from it? Most likely, no. Not only that, since our calories are set, if we choose to overconsume protein then we must reduce either carbohydrates and/or fat in order to keep caloric expenditure within our set range. Once protein needs are met (~0.8-1g/lb of bodyweight) you will likely see greater benefits from higher carbohydrate consumptions given the influence they have on anabolism and the anaerobic energy pathway. However, as I mentioned above, these recommendations will differ for older trainees given the blunted anabolic response from the ingestion of amino acids.
^ Burd, Nicholas A.; Yang, Yifan; Moore, Daniel R.; Tang, Jason E.; Tarnopolsky, Mark A.; Phillips, Stuart M. (2012). "Greater stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis with ingestion of whey protein isolate v. Micellar casein at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men". British Journal of Nutrition. 108 (6): 958–62. doi:10.1017/S0007114511006271. PMID 22289570.
How to do it: Lie on your back with both feet planted firmly against the flat base of a Bosu ball, knees bent. Stabilize your body. If you’re feeling a bit wobbly, your arms can hover on either side of you in case you fall in one direction. If you feel balanced, raise your arms straight up above your chest, hands clasped to challenge and work your stability. Drive your hips toward the ceiling, then lower and repeat.
Most people require around 20 calories per pound (or 44 kcal / kg) of bodyweight to gain muscle mass. Using a 180-pound (82kg) male as an example, the required daily calorie intake is 3600 calories (20 kcal x 180 lb = 3600 kcal). When it comes to gaining weight, it is likely that you may put on a few pounds of fat along the way, but if you do find your body fat increasing, either increase the amount of aerobic exercise (moderate intensity) you are doing or slightly reduce the total number of calories you are consuming. Remember you can’t force feed muscle gain!
Whether you love or hate ‘em, squats are one of the best butt exercises for strengthening your backside. Experts say that if you want to run faster, jump higher and lift heavier, squatting low is the way to go. They might look easy, but prepare to work when you add a barbell, slam ball or heel raise to the mix. These squat variations not only add some power to your jumps and kicks, but they also help improve your knee stability and range of motion. So how low can you go? Try these exercises to find out.
It has been argued that purposely overtraining for a brief period can be beneficial. One article published by Muscle & Fitness magazine stated that you can "Overtrain for Big Gains". It suggested that if one is planning a restful holiday and does not wish to inhibit their bodybuilding lifestyle too much, they should overtrain before taking the holiday, so the body can recuperate and grow during the prolonged rest period. Overtraining can be used advantageously, as when a bodybuilder is purposely overtrained for a brief period of time to super compensate during a regeneration phase. These are known as "shock micro-cycles" and were a key training technique used by Soviet athletes.