Expert tip: To make it harder, inch yourself close to a wall so your trunk is about a foot away. Bring what would be your “planted” leg on the wall, foot flat against the surface. From here, raise your “non-working leg” up into the air, keeping your knee bent. As you raise up into the glute bridge, you’ll drive your heel against the wall, raising your hips. You can also use a bench. And like the standard bridge, you can up the ante by adding weight.
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.
You see, there is only so much muscle that the human body is capable of building in a given period of time. So, if you supply your body with MORE calories than it’s actually capable of putting towards the process of building new muscle… it’s not going to magically lead to additional muscle being built. It’s just going to lead to additional fat being gained.
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.
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:
Bodybuilders have THE BEST mind to muscle connection of any resistance-training athletes. Ask a seasoned bodybuilder to flex their lats or their rhomboids or their hamstrings and they will do it with ease. Ask other strength athletes and you will see them struggle and although they may tense up the target muscle they will also tense up about 15 other surrounding muscles. This is because strength athletes train MOVEMENTS. They don’t care about targeting their lats. They just want to do the most pull ups. They don’t worry about feeling their quads. They just want to squat maximum weight. Although this is an expected and positive thing for the most part, there are real benefits to being able to isolate and target muscles.
The primary hip flexors are the rectus femoris, iliacus, psoas, iliocapsularis, and sartorius muscles. The rectus femoris muscle has two distinct origins proximally: the direct head and the reflected head. They originate at the AIIS and the anterior acetabular rim (in close proximity to the anterior hip capsule), respectively. The tendinous fibers of the rectus femoris coalesce distally and become confluent with the other quadriceps musculature in the thigh. The quadriceps consists of four distinct muscles: 1) the vastus intermedius; 2) the vastus lateralis; 3) the vastus medialis; and 4) the rectus femoris. The rectus femoris is the only quadriceps muscle that traverses both the hip and the knee joint. The rectus femoris is a powerful hip flexor, but it is largely dependent on the position of the knee and hip to assert its influence. It is most powerful when the knee is flexed, whereas significant power is lost when the knee is extended. The rectus femoris is innervated by the femoral nerve (i.e., the posterior division of L2 to L4).
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!)
Overtraining occurs when a bodybuilder has trained to the point where his workload exceeds his recovery capacity. There are many reasons why overtraining occurs, including lack of adequate nutrition, lack of recovery time between workouts, insufficient sleep, and training at a high intensity for too long (a lack of splitting apart workouts). Training at a high intensity too frequently also stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) and can result in a hyperadrenergic state that interferes with sleep patterns. To avoid overtraining, intense frequent training must be met with at least an equal amount of purposeful recovery. Timely provision of carbohydrates, proteins, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, even nutritional supplements are acutely critical. A mental disorder informally called “bigorexia” (by analogy with anorexia) may be held accountable of some people overtraining. Sufferers feel as if they are never big enough or muscular enough, which forces them to overtrain in order to try and reach their goal physique.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips to come into a bridge position with a neutral spine. Tuck your chin into your chest. Dig your elbows into the ground. Press the bottoms of your feet together and move your heels as close to your butt as possible. Inhale as you lower your hips toward the ground. Exhale as you lift your hips. Do 15 reps.
A 2001 study at the University of Texas found that lifters who drank a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates before working out increased their protein synthesis more than lifters who drank the same shake after exercising. The shake contained 6 grams of essential amino acids — the muscle-building blocks of protein — and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
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.
In addition to the proper amount of sleep, do not overdo your training regimen. While you might be tempted to think that "more is better," in fact the opposite is true. You can reach a point known as "over-training", in which you'll lose the ability to "pump" (engorge the muscles with oxygen-rich blood) your muscles, and this can even lead to muscle wasting—exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Here are some symptoms to be aware of if you think you may be falling into the over-training zone:
The G-med and G-min perform similar functions, depending on the position of the knee and hip joints. With the knee extended, they abduct the thigh (out to the side away from the opposite leg). When running, they stabilize the leg during the single-support phase. With the hips flexed, they internally rotate the thigh. With the hips extended, they externally rotate the thigh.
The main work of your hip flexors is to bring your knee toward your chest and to bend at the waist. Symptoms associated with a hip flexor strain can range from mild to severe and can impact your mobility. If you don’t rest and seek treatment, your hip flexor strain symptoms could get worse. But there are many at-home activities and remedies that can help reduce hip flexor strain symptoms.
Visit your doctor. Pain that persists for more than two to three days should be examined by a physician. Your doctor will conduct a medical history, physical exam and possibly, imaging studies to help make a diagnosis. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully -- they may include rest, use of crutches, physical therapy, stretching or anti-inflammatory medications.
Make no mistake: Eating for muscle is just as important as lifting for muscle. The foods you grab in the morning on the way to work, the meals you pack for lunch and mid-afternoon, what you put into your body immediately following your workout, and your final meal of the day impact your results as much as, if not more than, the number of reps you squeeze out at the end of a set. But in reality, it can be tough to stick to a "clean" diet when you're busy. We know that adding another layer of complexity to life in the form of reading food labels and studying ingredient lists just isn't an option for most of us. Not to mention actually preparing all those healthy meals.
Aim to eat roughly 250 to 500 extra calories per day. To make sure that any weight gained is from muscle, Fitzgerald recommends that the bulk of those calories come from protein. In a 2014 Pennington Biomedical Research Center study, people who ate a high-calorie diet rich in protein stored about 45 percent of those calories as muscle, while those following a low-protein diet with the same number of calories stored 95 percent of those calories as fat.
How to do it: Start by stepping forward into a lunge with your left foot. Place your right forearm to the ground and your left elbow to the inside of your left foot, and hold the stretch for two seconds. Then place your left hand outside of your foot and push your hips up, pointing your front toes up. Return to standing position and repeat by stepping out with your right foot. Continue alternating sides.
With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, plant both feet on the floor hip-width apart ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains between a 45- to 90-degree angle to your hips. This is your starting position.
As stated before, one of the primary hip flexor muscles is the psoas major. This muscle plays a role in core stabilization (something that is needed during running, squatting, and sitting) due to its attachment site at the spine. If there is a lack of core stability or poor movement patterns during these tasks then the hip flexor can become overworked/tired/fatigued (think what happens when your co workers or teammates don’t do their job, you have to pick up the slack and work harder, bringing you more stress and fatigue). It is when the hip flexor becomes fatigued that the sensation of tightness sets in. This is because the hip flexor has to “work harder” to compensate for other muscles not doing their job.
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.
This stretch gets at the piriformis muscle of the hip flexor. Sit with both legs extended in front of you. Bend the right knee and place the right foot on the floor. Place your right hand behind you and hook your left elbow on the outside of the right knee. As you twist toward the righthand side, keep your spine straight and breathe deeply. Switch sides after about 20 seconds.
The volume here isn’t excessive. You’ll do 11 sets total for large muscle groups (the one exception being shoulders, for which you’ll do 15) and train each bodypart once a week. Reason being, to pack on tons of mass you need ample recovery time. Doing endless sets in each workout can easily put you in a catabolic (muscle-wasting) state in which lean tissue is broken down, not built up. Gaining 10 pounds of muscle in such a short period requires the right balance of adequate volume to rest and recovery.
To test the flexibility of the hip flexors, specifically the iliopsoas, the Thomas' test10 is used. The patient lies supine and flexes one hip, pulling one knee to the chest. If a hip flexion contracture is present, the contralateral straight leg will rise off of the table. The modified Thomas' test (Figure 12.11) may be preferred. With this variation, the patient sits at the end of the examination table with the knees flexed to 90 degrees. Next, one knee is pulled tight to the chest. The patient is instructed to lie down while maintaining the knee against the chest. If a hip flexion contracture is present, the contralateral leg will rise off of the table. If a rectus femoris contracture is present, the contralateral knee will extend.
To avoid hip flexor pain, you should pay more attention to these muscles, Dr. Siegrist explains. When you are seated, your knees are bent and your hip muscles are flexed and often tighten up or become shortened. “Because we spend so much of our time in a seated position with the hip flexed, the hip flexor has the potential to shorten up. Then, when you are in a hurry because you are running to catch a bus or a plane, or you trip and fall, the muscle could become stretched. Here’s this stiff, brittle muscle that all of a sudden gets extended, and you could set yourself up for strain or some hip flexor pain.”
There are several ways to enhance the quality of a workout, and some changes can even be made during each rep. “Constant tension should be applied to the last five reps of every working set, meaning, do the first 5-6 reps normal tempo, and the last few reps should be held for at least two seconds at the peak of the contraction,” says Heath. “This allows your muscles to have more time under tension and you work different muscle fibers.” Hold the weight at the top for a maximum pump.
"Your glutes are made up of three different muscles, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus," says Lefkowith. "They externally rotate your hip, abduct your hip, extend your hip, and even posteriorly tilt your pelvis." Because of this, it is important that you not only work one or two of these muscles, but rather, focus on showing all of them some love. "If you were only to do moves in one plane of motion, say a front lunge or squat, you wouldn't work your glutes to strengthen all of the joint actions they can perform."
How can the muscle progress just because you held a weight for awhile when you could of held a heavier weight for less time? It won’t. It won’t grow because it’s not receiving new tension. Extending the rep by going slower is great, yes, but this slow must be the actual bar speed and not just slow because you can make it slow. You create actual bar speed by making light weight feel heavy. So lift light weight so that the fibers have to switch when it starts to feel heavy. This will increase your strength compared to just lifting heavier right away or all the time. This will help create an actual tempo with actual weights. Remember my example above about how the overall weight after making light weights feel heavy? This is because your muscles have sensed a level of tension that altered its force production so now you have to lift less, yet work harder. Read that again :) this is growth. This is how muscles sense it needs to grow. If you keep the same weight and never increase the weight, then you keep the same tension. This same tension is not enough to create new tension. Remember when I talked about failure? Well, the point where the fatigue of failure comes into play alters as well. It takes less time. That’s the point. Not much time is needed for growth, just break down the muscle as much as it can to a healthy level and do it again. Keep doing it and keep trying to increase the weight.
SOURCES: Debbie Siebers, certified personal trainer; developer of fitness video/DVD programs. Sue Carver, physical therapist; owner, A World of Difference Therapy Services, Little Rock, Ark. WebMD Live Event transcript: "Staying Fit -- Rich Weil, MEd, CDE," Feb. 25, 2004. WebMD Live Event transcript: "Fall Into Fitness Richard Weil, MEd, CDE," Sept. 2, 2003.
When it comes to training, I prefer to stick with the basics. People think they need 10 different exercises to fashion a fine pair of cheeks, but that's not what it takes. When it comes to toning your glutes, you only need two things: drive and dedication—and I mean real dedication. You must train your glutes hard and diligently to get a great response. If you stop every time it gets difficult or whenever it burns, you're not going to get anywhere.
This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continuing through the 1980s with Lee Haney, the 1990s with Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Markus Rühl, and up to the present day. Bodybuilders such as Greg Kovacs attained mass and size never seen previously but were not successful at the pro level. Others were renowned for their spectacular development of a particular body part, like Tom Platz or Paul Demayo for the leg muscles. At the time of shooting Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger (while never admitting to steroid use until long after his retirement) said that "you have to do anything you can to get the advantage in competition". He would later say that he does not regret using anything.
A: Let your symptoms be your guide. A slight sore throat or runny nose may require you to back off for a day or two but don’t confine yourself to your bed and assume the worst. However, you must also remember that prolonged, intense exercise can decrease immune function and make you more susceptible to bacterial and viral based sickness so it's equally as important to listen to your body and respond accordingly.
Manipulating carbs is one thing, but dealing with fats is another. Bigger people already have enough fat, they don’t need to eat fat. They don’t need keto. Skinny people don’t have much fat, which means they should eat it. Doing Keto is helpful. BUT, skinny people fasting during Keto is nonsense because they don’t have enough fat to sustain a fast. Bigger people don’t need to worry about fasting during Keto because they shouldn’t even be doing Keto.
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.
Remember my special answer: here it is… MOUTHTAPERS exist. People out there will tape their mouth closed during sleep so that they can breathe their nose. Even during the day sometimes. Why? Because the nose is directly connected to the diaphragm while the mouth is connected to the chest. Sure, increase chest mobility and your lungs may be able to expand more which will allow more air to be held, BUT HOW CAN YOU HOLD THAT MORE AIR IF YOUR DIAPHRAGM is weak? You won’t. So everything I just talked about must be done through the nose. Notice yourself breathing with your mouth and SWITCH right away. It takes work and energy. How you breathe during the day rolls over to how you breathe during the night.