It’s not just about lifting—it’s about lifting safely and correctly. And if you’re not performing exercises properly, it’s impossible to make any progress. “When someone is just starting to work out, it can help to work closely with a knowledgeable personal trainer in order to learn proper form,” says Ingram. But that goes for experienced lifters, too. If you aren’t sure about a movement, it’s better to ask. “If you’re not working the correct muscles, you can’t expect them to grow,” explains Ingram.
The iliopsoas muscle is the prime hip flexor and shortening may affect the lower back, pelvis, and/or hip joint. Caution should be taken during this release due to the sensitive area in which the therapist's hand pushes, i.e. proximity to the appendix, possible abdominal aortic abnormalities, potential tissue weaknesses predisposing to inguinal hernias, ovarian conditions, or general irritation/inflammation of the gastrointestinal system; hence, this release may occasionally be replaced by the regular therapeutic stretch presented in Chapter 7 (see Fig. 7.14).
Most problems with the hip flexors, however, don't originate in a lack of strength but in a lack of flexibility. To understand how these muscles lose their flexibility, imagine someone with a broken arm, her bent elbow encased in a plaster cast. When the cast is removed after six or eight weeks, the soft tissues around the elbow (muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even skin) will have shortened, and the elbow won't straighten out. It will take patient stretching over several weeks to restore the range of motion. Similarly, if the hip is constantly kept in a flexed position—like sitting—for hours every day, day after day, the hip flexors will shorten and shrink, limiting your ability to fully extend (straighten) the hip.
From a standing position on your left foot, hinge forward from your hips keeping your back flat and right leg in straight behind it, and core braced. Reach your right hand toward your left foot. Then, engage your glutes and hamstrings on your left leg to drive yourself back up to standing and swing your right knee up and through toward your chest. Stand as tall as possible and hold that end position for 2-3 seconds before repeating. This entire exercise is about “sticking” the knee drive hold at the end, so don’t rush through it. Repeat for required reps, then switch sides.
You can do this workout all on its own, or do a few sets of the moves before a run or your regular strength workout. "While form is important, having the correct muscles engaging and working is also key. Bodyweight moves like this done before other workouts can help us establish a mind-muscle connection and better recruit the correct muscles automatically," Lefkowith adds.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to bulk up when you should be on a diet. While you might have muscle on your mind, most people need to get leaner first. If you’re fat and you start eating for size, you’re only going to get fatter. Get rid of the excess blubber first, to the point where you can see some abs, and then worry about getting big. You should be as low as 12% body fat before you change your diet up to focus on mass gain. That will ensure that your insulin sensitivity is high. When it is, you can eat more carbs and your body won’t store them as fat.
Place a band around your ankles. Shift your weight into your right foot and place the toes of your left foot on the ground about an inch behind your right foot, so there is tension in the band. Exhale as you kick your left leg back about six inches. Avoid arching your back and keep your knees straight. Inhale as you return your left foot to the starting position. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides.
Firstly, let’s establish where your glutes are and what they actually refer to! Your ‘glutes’ — or your gluteal muscles, as they are more formally known — refer to the muscles in your butt. Specifically, there are three major muscles in this area: your gluteus maximus (the main, large muscle that shapes your backside), your gluteus medius and your gluteus minimus (two smaller muscles that assist the gluteus maximus in moving your body).
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