The glutes are one of the most important muscle groups in the body.
They are the controlling force for hip stability and strength. The same group is also responsible for knee stability and lumbar stability.
Issues at the pelvis can go up and down the chain from the ankle to the shoulder. The hip is also a confusing joint because it needs to be mobile and stable. The lumbo-pelvis needs to be stable and the femoroacetabular (leg into hip) joint needs to be mobile.
If there is no stability at the pelvis, we must rely on other structures to provide that stability when it is not their role.
An example is the knee. When we look at the joint by joint approach, the knee is a stable joint.
The knee is stable based on the premise that the two joints surrounding it are mobile. The ankles and hips are mobile joints.
If there is instability in the pelvis, the hip then becomes a stable joint. This occurs in the tight glute crowd.
When the hip becomes stable the knee is going to become mobile. A mobile knee is an achy knee.
To avoid the various issues that can arise in the presence of an unstable pelvis there are 2 muscle groups responsible for stability; the glutes and abdominals/obliques.
The glutes are a strange concept because they are one of few muscles I have heard of that can actually forget their role.
I have heard of gluteal amnesia thrown around a few times. I cannot validate the accuracy of this occurrence but most people have a set of glutes that simply do not do their job.
When we sit, the gluteals are completely shut off. Training at the gym often forgets about these muscles as well. Cardio, squats, knee extensions, leg presses, etc. do not train the glutes.
It is an unfortunate occurrence because good posterior development is necessary for injury prevention, strength, and performance.
In order to activate the glutes again there are a few methods we can use.
1. Traditional Glute Training.
The glutes are hip extensors. We could train the glutes a million times a day if we just squeeze our butt every time we stand.
Exercises to get the glutes firing include deadlifts, RDL’s, glute ham raises, bridges, and single leg work.
The key to most of these is to squeeze the glutes at the end of the movement.
The hamstrings also perform hip extension and it is easy to allow them to take over.
You must consciously use the glutes in order to activate them.
2. Half Kneeling Posture
The half kneeling posture is great for core and hip stability. The starting position must be proper to get the benefits of the exercise.
To start put one knee down and the other foot will be in front of the body. When doing any exercise in this position the knee will want to cave in.
Keep the foot in front of the body and resist the knee caving in to activate the glutes.
This is especially necessary for anti-rotational core exercises. With a band or a cable coming out from the side of this position, the glutes will try to shut off and cave the knee.
Resisting it helps provide the missing hip stability.
3. RNT Squats
Reactive neuromuscular training is a technique used to strengthen movement patterns.
When someone shows compensation in a movement we actually take them further into the dysfunction. When we do this, it forces the client to use the muscles required to counteract the pull.
This can be done by hand or with bands. I prefer to use mini bands but you can get creative here with tubing, super bands, or whatever else is around.
To perform an RNT squat, wrap a band just above the knees. Next squat down like normal and make sure to push out against the band.
This will ensure that the glutes are working and will also help improve the squatting pattern.
If they are not called upon in normal fashion, the glutes will become dormant.
Hibernated glutes rob performance and increase the risk of injury.
Try these techniques to get the glutes firing again which will only enhance your training efforts. Re-teach them how to do their job and the rest will be done for you.