Hi there, I’m Tori! I’m the founder of Peaches Pilates, and as a Pilates instructor/booty enthusiast, I wanted to have a little chat with you today – about ya glutes!
One of the most common issues we see in our studios with clients who are new to Peaches, is an inability to activate their glutes. Whether you’re suffering from back pain, poor posture, a weak core, lack of performance in the gym/sports or you just want to see some RESULTS back there, learning how to properly engage your gluteus muscles has endless benefits.
Quad dominance (where your quadricep muscles instantly fire on and take over from your glutes during exercise) is extremely common – and lots of people don’t even know they are quad dominant. I often get gym junkies swaggering (literally – hello tight back/hips/shoulders) into Peaches, feeling confident in the ability of their backside, and boasting of their ability to squat 100kgs. My polite response is always the same: I smile sweetly and encourage them to join me in a side-lying and four-point kneeling series with either one of our Peaches 2kg ankle weights or XXFirm booty bands. Usually, within 5 minutes, they’re scrunching their faces up in agony, or unable to get through the reps. This is when we have a little talk about proper glute engagement, and I share some small words of wisdom.
Once you learn how to correctly hold your body in the best posture for glute activation, you’ll see results within weeks! Your Gluteus Maximus is the largest muscle in the body – so when you learn how to fire it, you’ll also be burning through calories faster. AND you’ll be able to bid farewell to the aches and pains associated with weak glutes.
Here are my top 5 tips for using your butt muscles like never before:
This is something I harp on about in the studios on the reg. Basically, we don’t like to see any ‘cute booties’ when we’re working out – aka, don’t pop that toosh, TUCK IT! The term I have come up with for the proper articulation of the lumbar spine (the lower back) and tucking of the tail bone is ‘Granny Bum’. All of my clients know that the second those words come out of my mouth, it’s time to flatten out the natural curve in their lower back, tilt their pelvis (think of a little air hump movement that you HOLD!) and make sure their booties are squeezing so tightly that they’re deliciously dimply. Arching your lower back may look sexy, but please, don’t do it in the gym – you’ll lose any ability to engage your core AND your glutes, and put your back out in no time. Save the poppin’ of that tooshie for your extracurricular activities
The fastest way to recognise an incorrect squat is by looking at people’s feet. If, while squatting, you find yourself tilting forward, pressing into your tippy toes, and even – god forbid – lifting your heels off the floor, basically it’s all wrong. By pushing your heels into the floor you’re giving your hamstrings and backside a chance to switch on, rather than leaving all the work to your quads. An easy way to ensure your centre of gravity isn’t rolling forward – and hence leaving you balancing on those tootsies, is to swing your hips back. Imagine you have your hands full of shopping bags, and you need to close the car door with your butt. Let this backward motion be the first thing you do BEFORE you bend your legs.
When you’re in any side-lying position, resist the urge to kick your leg forward, out in front of you. This one is simple science: when kicking your leg out in front of you, you’re activating your quads, but when your leg is further back, in line with your butt, or better yet – slightly behind you, you’re engaging your booty! Try lying on your side and completing some single leg circles with your top leg – you might be surprised by how tempting it is to kick your leg forward, or how it happens without you even realising. See if you can notice the difference when you take that leg back.
Weight machines can be fabulous for building up your glute muscles – IF you’re actually using them; otherwise, just say hello to more quad action… Even if you are really firing through the butt, often weights machines isolate a single layer of the glutes, rather than using all three parts: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Functional bodyweight exercises like clams and pelvic curls will use all three parts of the puzzle – plus if you add a resistance band to the mix, you may surprise yourself and find them harder than the leg press!
Rushing through movements or relying on momentum and gravity isn’t going to do you any favours. In our studios, one of the meanest things I do is make people SLOW DOWN. I like to remind people that it’s not a race! Holding at the end of each movement – be it a squat, a pelvic curl or a horse kick, will make your muscles work ten times harder. Like all good things in life, you don’t want it to be all over too fast.