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!)
You can use over-the-counter remedies such as Motrin or Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen) to help with pain and swelling. Tylenol (acetaminophen) works for pain relief, but it doesn't treat inflammation and swelling. If you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or if you've had ulcers or internal bleeding, check with your doctor before taking any of these medications.
“Exercises such as single leg squats, regular squats, deadlifts, monster walks, side laying leg lifts, step-ups and reverse planks are some of the exercises that can strengthen the muscles," says Schulz. "You can also try a challenging lunge circuit, split squats, and deadlifts for some major toning." (And of course, if you need any further ideas, check out our roundup of the 17 best glute exercises out there.)
How to do it: Begin with your head, neck, and shoulders comfortably fixed against a stability or Swiss ball and both feet firmly planted on the ground, knees bent at 90°. (This is also known as table top position.) Either stretch your arms straight up above your chest with your hands clasped to maximize the balance and stability challenge, or down on either side in case you begin to slip or tip over. As with the other bridge motions, simply lower your hips toward the floor then drive them toward the ceiling. Lower and repeat.
If you're a beginner, just about any workout will be intense enough to increase protein synthesis. But if you've been lifting for a while, you'll build the most muscle quickest if you focus on the large muscle groups, like the chest, back, and legs. Add compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, pullups, bent-over rows, bench presses, dips, and military presses to your workout to work them the most efficiently.
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.
On January 16, 1904, the first large-scale bodybuilding competition in America took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The competition was promoted by Bernarr Macfadden, the father of physical culture and publisher of original bodybuilding magazines such as Health & Strength. The winner was Al Treloar, who was declared "The Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World". Treloar won a $1,000 cash prize, a substantial sum at that time. Two weeks later, Thomas Edison made a film of Treloar's posing routine. Edison had also made two films of Sandow a few years before. Those were the first three motion pictures featuring a bodybuilder. In the early 20th century, Macfadden and Charles Atlas continued to promote bodybuilding across the world. Alois P. Swoboda was an early pioneer in America.
Now, if you are somebody that is more of the “do-it-yourself” type, check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy. The Academy has 20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles so you know when you to level up your routine, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.
How to do it: Stand with feet just outside the shoulders and hands behind your head. Squat, keeping your knees behind your toes and squeezing your glutes. After holding this position for two seconds, jump vertically. Pull the toes to your shins in midair to prepare for landing. Land in the starting squat position, hold three seconds and repeat for 10 reps. Be sure to land softly, with the hips back and down.
The best way to know the real progress you’re making is by recording it on video or taking photos. “Photos mean everything because if you can take them in the same areas and in the same poses, you’ll see your strengths and weaknesses clearly,” says Heath. “Revise your training and diet programs to eliminate weaknesses.” Keep a file of your progress to see just how far you can take your fitness.
There are many potential reasons, but I am going to keep it simple and give you just two. The first and most common reason people suffer from underactive glutes or “glute amnesia” is due to lifestyle. Even when people train hard every day, if they spend the majority of the remainder of the day sitting down, then they are simply not using their glutes. And remember the old saying - if you don’t use it, you lose it. Unfortunately, this is just what happens with your glutes.
For many people, appearance is the top priority when it comes to their posterior. But yoga practitioners also know that the glute muscles can do so much more than look great in jeans: They’re the primary players in many of the movements that make it possible to do yoga. The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus—along with many other smaller, supporting muscles—act as a base of support for the pelvis and hips. What’s more, these hard-working muscles stabilize your femur (thighbone) in your hip socket, rotate your femur internally and externally, and draw your leg back. And yes, all of these actions also help us stand and walk, and even support us when we sit.
“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.
The high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to provide the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. In preparation of a contest, a sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to build muscle. The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.
If you’re someone who’s got a good stretching routine down, both before and after a HIIT workout, bike ride or run, odds are the discomfort you feel indicates that there are grounds for more strengthening exercises. It’s important to add that many yogis with extremely flexible hips run into overstretching injuries like hip flexor strains. But, these injuries aren’t just limited to the uber-flexible. Runners, cyclists, and Stairmaster lovers might strain these muscles due to frequent overuse. We’ll share a hip flexor workout below but, first up, some stretches.
^ 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.
You're aiming to kick start muscle hypertrophy, the cellular process that spurs growth. Researchers have found that the best way to initiate that process is by performing two or three sets of an exercise for six to 12 repetitions, with about 30 to 60 seconds' rest between sets. You're damaging the muscles with the work — then the protein you've been consuming will help build them back up even bigger.
Just because your hip flexor region feels sore doesn’t necessarily mean the muscles there are tight — in fact, they might need strengthening. This is where that sports science debate we mentioned earlier comes into play. It’s important to identify whether you’re tight or if the muscles are weak. Again, the Thomas Test will help you identify if you’re maybe stretching something that actually needs strengthening.
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.