A guest post from fitness blogger Ashley:
One of the most common complaints that I hear from clients but also have experienced myself is low back pain. I have learned in my years of training that this stems from more than just weak abdominals.
When people say ‘core’ typically you just think of your stomach muscles and low back. What they realize is it also includes your booty muscles, serratus anterior and posterior, erector spinae and your lats. With that said you have to stretch and strengthen a lot more muscle groups than just your abdominals to reduce low back pain.
My glutes and hamstrings are the main muscle groups that I’ve been working on to ensure my low back feels good. It’s not always about strengthening…also remember to stretch to increase flexibility in your lower body. You can go back into the archives of my blog and check out my stretching entry to get you started.
The most important kind of training for strengthening the glutes is unilateral training. This simply means working one side of your body at a time. Everyone has a dominant side and unilateral movements allow each glute to work equally as hard to perform the exercise. It doesn’t allow your dominant side to compensate for the weak. This also will allow you to make gains in leg exercises that involve both legs working at the same time like a squat.
So what are some basic glute exercises that will increase strength? Here are a number of body weight exercises that you can start with. Enjoy the downtown Milwaukee atmosphere and the blinding sun in these photos. What a beautiful day it is today and why not lay in the grass on Water Street after a great cup of Collectivo (it will always be Alterra to me) Coffee and perform them for you. Side note: don’t exercise in sandals like I am. I simply forgot to take them off and always have good footwear on when I’m working out.
Glute Extensions: Lay on your back with your hands at your side and your knees bent with feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips and squeeze your glutes at the top of the exercise. Lower your hips back down and repeat.
Single Leg Glute Extensions: You will start in the same position as glute extensions except one leg will be up in the air. Lift your hips, squeeze your glutes at the top and lower hips back down. Repeat.
Hydrants: The ‘look like a dog peeing on a hydrant’ exercise. Start on all fours with your back nice and flat. Stack your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Bring your bent leg up so your leg is parallel with the ground and lower back down. Don’t forget to do both sides.
Side Leg Raises: Start in the same positions as hydrants. Try to stretch your leg straight out so it is perpendicular to the rest of your body. If your hips don’t allow that kind of flexibility, decrease the angle of your leg. You are going to lift and lower your leg without touching down. Think of it as more of a pulsing movement. Switch sides.
Hip Circles: Start in the same position as the last two exercises. Kick one leg back, lift your hip and circle your leg back around to your starting position. You will go the opposite direction as well. Bring your knee into your chest and then lift your hip in a circular motion.
Forward Lunges and Lateral Lunges: Forward lunges that I have talked about in a couple of my blog entries (go back to my ‘No Excuse Workout Plan‘ entry if you need a refresher) are a great exercise to increase glute strength. Another great lunge exercise is a lateral lunge. Start with feet together and take an oversized step to the side. Both sets of toes should face forward the entire exercise. The leg that you step out with is going to bend while the other leg stays straight. Do all your repetitions on one side and then switch to the other.
Here’s a quick workout sample for you to try:
Glute Extensions – 3×25
Single Leg Glute Extensions: 3×15/leg
Side Leg Raises: 3×25/leg
Hip Circles: 3×25/leg, make sure you go both directions so you will end up doing 50 repetitions total on each leg.
Forward Lunges: 3×15/leg
Lateral Lunges: 3×15/leg
*Don’t forget to include stretching of your hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors in this rotation as well.
I would go through each exercise once and then start at the beginning and go through them two more times. If you don’t have as much time, just go through the exercises twice.
I will leave you with this thought. As we were walking downtown we passed this:
We all have choices. We have choices to see the glass half full or half empty. This week try to choose a positive thought even if your first inclination was to think of the negative. Attitude can be a driving force towards obtaining your goals or a road block constantly getting in your way. Try to take the high road and embrace all the great things in your life. Work hard, stay positive and keep your goals in the forefront of your mind.