Elsa Pataky's trainer, Fernando Sartorius, says that focusing on squeezing your glutes while performing a booty-blasting exercise allows you to activate the muscle group to their maximum potential. Cameron Diaz's trainer, Teddy Bass, founder of the trademarked booty-sculpting program called Rock Bottom Body, says you should get into a bridge position and memorize what it feels like to really engage your buns—and then try to feel that burn every time you work your butt. The point: Thinking about squeezing your glutes (and actually squeezing them) while strength-training helps you work the muscles in your butt harder.
If you have blisters and other foot issues, it could be related to weak glutes. “A new blister could indicate a change in the gait of the runner, and it could be a sign of poor gait/biomechanics from glute weakness such as altered foot striker pattern,” says Bayes. (It’s worth mentioning, however, that this could also just be a sign of a sneaker problem, and you might just need to buy a better-fitting pair of shoes.)
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.
Carbohydrates give my working muscles the energy to do their job. Without them, I would feel tired, and my gym sessions would definitely struggle as a result. Just like I approach my protein intake as a way to repair my muscles after training, I aim for the carb "sweet spot" where I can maximize energy and glycogen replenishment. And just like with protein, quality is crucial. My carbs come from high-fiber, high-nutrient foods. I include plenty of sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and brown rice, among others.
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.
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:
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.