Glute training and the quest for better glutes has taken off over the last 5 years, and has almost created its own industry within the fitness industry. We’ve seen the explosion of social media exercises, tools and gimmicks and even facilities that have the sole focus of developing glutes.
In the quest for developing better glutes we often see lower body workouts incorporating 5 or 6 glute focused exercises including squats, then lunges followed by leg presses and hip thrusters, then followed by some cable kickbacks. These might all be great options. However the question you need to ask is whether we are appropriately challenging all the other important muscles around the hip?
If I recommended you do 5 different Bicep Curl exercises every training session and 1 Tricep exercise every now and again most people would recognise this wouldn’t be a good idea. It could potentially risk overtraining and injuring Biceps, and also lead to joint instability or at very least slow progression of bicep curls if you never train the other side. However, when it comes to the backside of the hip, this is typically what happens.
The analogy I find most effective to highlight this is to relate it to food. It is similar to eating boiled carrots, followed by steamed carrots, baked carrots, then maybe some raw carrots and carrot soup. Is it better to eat carrots 5 different ways each meal or perhaps eat 5 different vegetables? This is not only for the nutritional value, but also eating carrots 5 ways would become quite boring.
Could this approach to building better glutes be improved?
Here’s something to consider:
How many exercises are you doing for the front of your hip? How often do you challenge your Hip Flexors or Adductors?
When you do a hip extension exercise such as a squat, you are reliant not only on your quads and glutes, but also a bunch of other muscles to help maintain the integrity of the hip joint. For instance your adductors, abductors and hip flexors. These muscles might have some role as joint managers (RTS 2019). When you are looking to bias specific musculature, your ability to hold everything else still plays a crucial role. By improving your ability to stabilise your pelvis, could you actually then improve your ability to squat more weight in the long run? Might this then lead to improved development of the glutes? Possibly.
The below image is useful for looking at the direction the fibres in the front of the hip as well as some activities that include the front of the hip. Ultimately it might make sense to train these sometimes along with the back of the hip
Next time you train your glutes, take some time to think if it is the best use of your time to train the glutes multiple times, or whether it might be better use the limited time to train other areas of the body which you may have been ignoring. In the long run you may even find this leads to better development of your glutes and greater resilience to injury as a result.
The “Art” of Stretching.
We’ve all been hearing about it for decades.
The average gym goer, veteran runner, health coach and personal trainer is constantly told stretching is a great way to increase flexibility and decrease chance of injury.
But what are you stretching?
Are you stretching muscle? Ligament? Nerves? Or maybe blood vessels? How do you know exactly what it is you are stretching and to what extent?
What if, over time your ligaments are becoming weak due to all this passive stretching. You, in fact, be could be ruining the integrity of your joints by performing these movements!
Ligaments are amazing tissues. They hold bone to bone and stabilise your joints.
These structures, when stretched overtime, can loosen and the structural integrity of a joint may weaken.
How does this happen?
Adding force to these structures externally may cause their shape to alter and “stretch”.
If a ligament becomes stretched or torn, the joint it is holding may be more prone to dislocation and instability.
Another tissue that helps with stability is muscle.
When do ever want your muscles to not be ready to handle load? Simply walking creates load on a muscle.
A muscle works best when it’s contracted and ready for load.
The job of a muscle is to pull a joint into a specific position, like the quadriceps pulling the tibia and fibula into extension.
The idea of passive stretching is to relax and elongate these tissues. But these tissues work better when they are “tight”, contacted.
If passive stretching releases “tightness” on these tissues, what happens?
They become relaxed and therefore unstable.
Would it be beneficial to relax these muscles and cause instability before exercise or activity? Probably not.
So next time someone tells you to stretch, it might be a good idea to ask them what the purpose of the stretch is and if it will hinder, cause instability to the joint and the joints integrity, and how do we know exactly what it is that “stretches” along with the muscle?
Do the perceived benefits outweigh the potential costs?
Think about this next time you decide to stretch.