You only go as far as your engine takes you! The glutes are the biggest muscles in the human body! It is extremely important to keep the hips powerful and strong! When thinking about this, remember your hips Flex / Extend, open from left to right and rotate! I can almost guarantee you that if your hips are weak, something somewhere else in your body will suffer from it, as you will constantly be compensating at muscles or joints above or below as a result!
If you have a bad back, chances are you have under developed hips! Simply meaning that the front side of the hips (hip flexors) are really tight from sitting a lot and the glutes stop getting the emphasis it needs! In other words, the front of the hips are too locked up and the back of the hips are too weak! It is a sure fire way to get back pain as now your back will be asked to do things it simply cannot do! An example of this would be simply bending over to pick a heavy bag up from the floor! The hips cannot extend due to weakness, the spine flexes as a result and now there is a chance for potential injury! Besides getting the hips stronger, try some hip activation techniques! Which simply wakes up the hip flexors and glutes to perform their job!
You can purchase these small ankle bands, better known as mini bands, from performbetter.com for a very low cost. They are a great tool to help with the above points. Here ,Nancy demos hip flexor activation and glute activation using the bands!
Alike from the beginning point, weak or underdeveloped glutes will also cause problems at the Hamstring as well. Constantly “popping or pulling” your hamstring all of the time, believe it or not, is more than likely also a result of your weak glutes! As the job of the glute (in extreme laymen’s terms) is to stabilize the hips as the hamstring flexes and extends the knee! So let’s take a look at the mechanics of running for a second, so many injuries happen in running as we all know! In running, as you stride, if your glutes are too weak to fire and work, you then would be asking too much of a demand from the hamstring, without any help from the glutes and boom – you pull/pop the hamstring!
Your butt is a type 2 muscle fiber! Meaning it has the ability to produce a ton of force and grow really big! You must train your glutes to be explosive (powerfully jump more often) and to move heavy loads! The body weight/ rehab exercises like fire hydrants or leg lifts that you do against the wall, will not cut it as this is not the proper stimulus for this muscle group!
Some examples of better choices when training the hips are shown in the videos below!
Jump Squats– Deep explosive Jump Squats are a great way to work on the hips and legs becoming more explosive! The key here is in the progressions! Don’t add the jump unless you already squat with perfect form when under load!
Deadlifts train both the hell out of your glutes and also develop the lower back! Here is my girlfriend Amanda repping a little over her body weight for sets!
The glute bridge is one of our favorite ways to work the hips! We like it so much because the glutes have to work the entire movement without any let up!
Although Split Squats are considered a “quad dominate” exercise, if you’re thinking muscles, staggered or single leg stances are great for those whose low back are the limiting factor! Split stances distress the back, and get the core to stabilize the body as the glute is now forced to fire to help stabilize and work! Once we master peoples body weight Split Squat (whether we have to decrease the range of motion or give someone something to hold onto for balance in the beginning stages of this exercise) we eventually load this pattern heavy when the time is right, and the client can handle the load!!