Unlock Your Glutes
A PROBLEM BEYOND THE MUSCLES
We must understand that there is a problem in modern society, more common than we think. Its name is gluteal amnesia and it goes beyond a muscle question. It is the neurological inhibition of these muscles with a delay in their activation speed. In other words, they are activated inefficiently and late. If we compare the nervous system with the operating system of a computer, we could assume the situation that a part of the machine is not working well because it is not captured by the program we are using. As if a file has been deleted or uninstalled. The nervous system has lost consciousness about the buttocks. Our internal program has been misconfigured and not only are we not getting the most out of our team, but it is also causing us problems. Gluteal amnesia generates inefficient gestures in the face of physical demands where body dynamics are affected and postural dysstatisms.
We have to get “our software” configured to have muscles that are foreign to it. Faced with this alteration, we are going to divide our strategy into two parts: unlocking and activation. Unlocking seeks to release tissues and signal the body of other range of motion possibilities. Once we finish this phase, the body is much more willing to activate the glutes.
We will sequentially divide this stage into 2 steps: myofascial release and mobility exercises.
It is important to understand that the fascia is a tissue that generates a lot of retraction. That is, it is important responsibility for our limits to move. Myofascial retraction not only makes our movements limited, but it is also an inhibitor for other muscles to work properly. In this particular case, it is practical as if the glutes had the “handbrake” in place when activating. A self-massage roll can be an excellent option to incorporate into a warm-up. It will allow us to train a little more freely without sedating the muscles or the nervous system.
It is important that mobility exercises seek global movements, covering more than one joint, as it is the most transferable for everyday life and sport. It’s not just about your joints preparing for a lawsuit. We are not just going to “oil” the joints. Through mobility exercises, we are targeting what happens within the nervous system. They can be combined with elongation, but it is important that it is not long-lasting, since if we want to face a physical demand we cannot put the muscles “to sleep”.
Once the unlocking stage is completed, we are ready to start activating our glutes getting the most out of it. We can choose 3 steps: analytical exercises, stabilizing capacity training, and acceleration. It should be noted that these categories are the product of the selection of different tools used by various professionals and their own experiences. Everything is adapted to the principle of individuality of training where the evaluation and progression criteria will play a fundamental role.
1. Many times we do exercises without the awareness of what we should be working on. It is not strange to find cases where, for example, squats are performed and no fatigue is felt in the buttocks. Many times we are not taking advantage of these large muscles, and even worse, for this reason, we are generating compensations that lead us to poor performance and a greater risk of injury. We are all victims of certain motor illiteracy. Therefore, it is not bad, perform analytical exercises to feel the muscles that we must work. Obviously, if we stay alone in this, we will not be able to generate transfers to more complex gestures, since the nervous system understands movements and not individual muscle contractions. We can see in the images hip extensions in the prone position (1) to contract the gluteus maximus. And lateral decubitus hip abductions (2) to contract the gluteus medius.
It is important to understand that we must go a step further, and involve the buttocks in a fundamental function that is their responsibility, which is stabilization. There is no driving force without a stabilizing component. Like having a powerful cannon whose base sits on a tightrope. For that, exercises such as different types of bridges and activation of the buttocks while maintaining balance in single support bring us closer to the functionality of the muscles at stake. We can see a supine bridge (3) with a hip extension on a stable base with bipedal, unimodal support, and then on an unstable base like a ball. Then we can appreciate the monster step exercise (4) where it is sought to perform a lateral movement without bringing the knees inwards to a valgus position. Let’s remember that the gluteus medius is one of the main stabilizers of the pelvis in the frontal plane and that the position of the knee depends a lot on it in certain demanding situations. We can fight against the resistance of the band in single support (5), or perform different variations, where the correct execution of the exercise will lead us to feel more the gluteus medius of the fixed support leg, than that of the leg that it is moving. Because the gluteus medius of the fixed leg is constantly working isometrically. Knowing that apart from being a hip abductor, the gluteus medius is a great stabilizer, its isometric activation in the situation of seeking to maintain balance is very functional and transferable.