The fact that we spend a big chunk of our day sitting down doesn't exactly prep us for an A-grade workout.
"Sitting down causes our hips to become super tight while also shortening the hip flexors which can be detrimental to your training," Alexa Towersey, personal trainer and nutritionist told The Huffington Post Australia.
Basically, tight hips inhibit your glutes from firing, meaning that you can squat all you like, but it doesn't actually mean your glutes are being engaged.
The butt is a notoriously lazy muscle which is why learning and knowing how to "switch it on" is absolutely crucial if you are targeting the lower body.
Towersey, a Sydney-based trainer specialises in "creating curves" through weight training and explains the butt is a notoriously lazy muscle which is why learning and knowing how to "switch it on" is absolutely crucial if you are targeting the lower body.
"A lot of the time when people hit the gym, they are doing certain exercises to tick a box and are rarely thinking about what muscles they are actually working," Towersey said.
Towersey said including a dynamic warm-up that focuses on opening the hips and activating the glutes before jumping into the bigger movements like squats and dead lifts is a much smarter approach.
"The glutes have multiple functions and multiple fibres, they're not just one big muscle -- so it's about ensuring you have the right amount of mobility and range of motion so that you can engage the right fibres," Towersey said.
1. Overhead reverse lunge
This move is best done first, helping to lengthen and open your hips.
"Step backwards into a lunge, bringing your arms overhead and focus on reaching towards the ceiling, driving the hips underneath you and creating length along the back hip," Towersey said.
"There should be a straight line between your arms all the way from your hip and down to your knee which is just hovering off the ground."
"With any weight training exercise, the key is to get to a point where you're struggling by the last two repetitions, but as soon as you begin to lose your form, you want to stop because you don't want to reinforce bad movements," Towersey said.
2. Side-lying clam
Once you've lengthened the hips, you can go straight into glute-specific exercises.
"This is a Pilates-based exercise where you lie on your side with your hips bent to 45 degrees and your knees at 90 degrees with your feet in line with your back," Towersey said.
"Take a breath in, exhale and float the upper leg upwards while keeping your feet in contact with one another -- this engages the back of the glutes," Towersey said.
3. Hip thrust variation
"With your shoulder blades against a bench, bend your legs at 90 degrees. Your heels on the ground right underneath your knees," Towersey said.
"While keeping your back straight, drive through the heels bringing the hips up towards the ceiling and squeezing your butt at the top, so you become a table top."
"To work the butt even more, turn the feet out and place a resistance band around the knees," Towersey said.
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