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Friday, September 07, 2012

Monthly fitness tip: What is your body's powerhouse?

Courtesy City of Milton; By Kolleen Riddick, CorePhysique founder

What is your body's powerhouse? The answer is simple. Glutes, glutes and more glutes!

Your booty happens to be your powerhouse, yet it tends to be the most overlooked muscle group in the human body. Most of us think it is just used to provide cushioning when sitting. And sitting we do! But when was the last time you gave your booty the attention it deserved?

Let's talk about the muscles of the butt: We have the gluteus maximus, the gluteus minimus and the gluteus medius, which together are supposed to be one of the strongest groups of the human body. Central to the posterior chain (the backside of your body), they aid in keeping your body standing tall. They are designed to be your powerhouse when walking, running, golfing and even throwing. But, if ignored, they can pose many problems.

As technology has advanced, bodies have regressed. The more we sit, the weaker our booty muscles become. Over time, they atrophy or weaken, forcing the surrounding muscles to take over and perform tasks for which they were not designed. This can cause muscular imbalances and stress on joints.

Here are my top three exercises for waking up that butt:

The Fire Hydrant: Start on all fours in table top position, slowly lift one leg up and to the side (imagine a dog doing his business on a hydrant - hence the name). Perform three sets of 20 on each side.

The Bridge: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Draw in the lower abdominals and lift your butt off the floor, lifting the hips until the knees, hips and chest are in line. Hold this position, purposefully squeezing the glutes to support the bridge position. While doing this exercise, keep the pelvis level and the lower abdominals drawn in. If you feel a strong contraction in the hamstrings, or if the lower back is straining, you are not using your glutes strongly enough. Focus on squeezing your butt cheeks together to ensure they do the work. Lower your butt and repeat. Perform three sets of 15 reps.

Side steps with a band: Start by standing with an exercise mini-band around your ankles. It should be snug when your feet are shoulder-distance apart. With knees slightly bent, take a sideways step focusing on the gluteus medius muscle on the side that you are stepping to. Step five to 10 times one way, then five to 10 times back the other way. Repeat three to five times (you can build up as you get stronger).

Click here for more information on the City of Milton/CorePhysique fitness camps.

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