Make Your Butt All That It Could Be?

June 23 | Posted by The SportsAndFamily.com Staff | Tips

You already know that running is one of the most effective methods of fitness training there is, a total mind and body transformation. Combining a running plan with strength training will steadily increase your fitness level along with the muscle synchronicity that is essential for endurance and overall running performance. There is no doubt that it takes total muscle conditioning for greater running performance, but if you want to blast beyond your best record and throw some fuel on the endurance fire then it’s time to add some additional strength training that targets the muscle that is the most important to running.

Which muscle is the most important for running? Many people would answer without a moments’ hesitation that the heart is. It makes sense, because there could be no running (or much of anything else) without it. Is it more important than the diaphragm, the muscle that is vital for breathing? There is no way to determine which muscle holds the greatest importance when there are a few whose absence would definitely eliminate the possibility of running.

Let’s rule them out, and consider instead the muscles responsible for the actual moving, or locomotive muscles. Undoubtedly the hamstrings or calves would be the likely choices, but then how can we explain the achievements of Rudy Garcia-Tolson. Rudy Garcia-Tolson is a runner who has no calves or hamstrings and runs using prosthetic legs. The prosthetics function strictly for leverage and in no way can provide the power and energy for movement that the hamstrings and calves supply. The gluteus maximus muscles are what drives the forward movement and momentum for Rudy Garcia-Tolson as well as for all runners. It’s safe to say that the glutes are the primary source for producing the locomotive energy and force that drives the forward motion.

The glutes are generally weak for most people as a result of the extensive amount of sitting that we do. The inactivity of sitting stretches the glutes, and over long periods of time will result in a muscular imbalance that prohibits their running capabilities. It’s not uncommon for athletes at all fitness levels to need to incorporate glute strengthening exercises into their sports training regimen. The exercises are simple, effective, and perfectly suited for every fitness level.

The supine glute activation exercise is a great one to start with because it will serve to reconnect the brain with the glutes. Lying face up, cross the left ankle over the lower right thigh. Next, with your hands folded on your chest, contract the right side of the buttocks and raise the hips until your body is in a straight line from the neck to the right knee. Don’t use the hamstrings, just the glutes. Then relax and repeat it ten times followed by the same ten repetitions on the left side.

More advanced exercises, like the split stance dumbbell deadlift will integrate the activation of other running muscles with the glute activation. Standing with your right foot flat on the floor beneath your hip, and the left half of a step behind the right with just the toes touching the floor. Have dumbbells set on either side of the right foot, bend at the hips and at the knees to pick up the dumbbells with arms fully extended. Press the floor with your right foot to stand up straight while contracting the right glutes. After a brief pause, lower the dumbbells back toward the floor, hovering before they are set down. Ten repetitions for each side.

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