Do you get up from the chair using your back or the hips/leg muscles?

When spending long hours sitting has became quite the norm, the body has taken a toll by creating some type of distortion motor patterns.  More alarming than the abnormal body moves are the deficits in motion and motor patterns developed.

“People with trouble backs, generally walk, sit, stand and lift using mechanics that increase the back loads. They tend to have more motion in their back and less motion in their hips. A common aberrant motor pattern known as gluteal amnesia,” explains Stuart McGill, Ph.D., renowned authority on the spine biomechanics, University of Waterloo, in his article: “Core Training: Evidence Translating to Better Performance and Injury Prevention” published in Strength and Conditioning Journal.

Pain-free back

One of the most powerful muscles in the body relies on your posterior rear.  Running, jumping, climbing the stairs and so many daily activities require the gluteus muscles to fully kick in. However, after sustaining prolonged and repetitive bad postures, the gluteus muscles can be inhibited, which makes the hamstrings and other back extensor muscles to take over, adds McGill.

“Gluteal muscle reintegration helps to unload the back,” points out McGill. In a study where lumbo-pelvic muscle activity, velocity and angular displacement was evaluated during the single-leg landing task, individuals with diminished hip muscle strength – particularly on the gluteus muscles – reported greater stress on the lumbo-pelvic region.

The authors of the study “Lumbo-pelvic Landing Kinematics and EMG in Women with Contrasting Hip strength,” published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, say that weakness of the gluteus muscles may alter muscle activation responsible for controlling and stabilizing the body.

Step up!

Many people do not realize the connection between a healthy back with a strong gluteus. Certainly, back hygiene involves other muscles and exercise techniques beyond the gluteus muscles. However, as many studies show, a strong posterior positively take some pressure off the back; thus, affecting not just the back but also the whole posterior kinetic chain.

Whether you are looking for a healthier back or just want a toned and strong gluteus to show off this summer season, start with the step up.

A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, indicated that the step up elicited the greatest activation of the gluteus medius and maximus along with other hip extensors muscles.

Steel butt workout

–        Perform this workout as a super-set – two exercises performed one after another with no rest-

–        There are two super-sets.  Do the power move at the end of each super-set

–        Do three sets per 10-12 reps

–        Perform this routine two times a week in non consecutive days

–        Do a dynamic stretch to warm up at the beginning of the workout and a static stretching at the end

Super-set One:

–        DB Step-up: Plant the foot entirely on the bench. Pushing from the heal of the foot that is on the bench lift the body up and raise the other leg at the same time. Keep the back straight and the core tight at all time. Do not lean forward. The effort should come from the gluteus and to a lesser extend to the other muscles of the back of the tight.

–        Barbell single dead-lift:  Keep the back straight and chest up. Go as low as you can as long as you keep the back straight. When lifting up the body, use the gluteus and not the back.

Power move:

–        Split Squat Jumps: In a lunge position, jump as high as you can, switch legs and land with the opposite leg, immediately jump back. Land softly.

Super-set Two:

–        Barbell lunge with Knee raise: Step back into a lunge position. Sit back to 90 degree angle and return while simultaneously lift the other leg. Use the gluteus and the core to keep the hips and the back straight.

–        Barbell hip raise: place the bar on your hips. Bend the knees to a 90 degree, lift the hips and fully contracted the gluteus before coming down. Don’t let the hips to touch the floor. Keep the gluteus contracted at all times. Avoid using more the hamstrings than the gluteus.