I am sure most of you caught at least some of the sport action of the 2012 Summer Olympics. You got to watch beach volleyball, track and field, swimming, gymnastics, and the list goes on. What is common between all of these sports is the lack of clothing, providing us all with some side entertainment and possible jealousy. Obviously as you watch the various sports, you recognize the different body types associated with each sport and the amount of muscle mass some of the athletes seem to possess. Aaaand then you watch swimming. Swimming is like a grab bag–some are lean and muscular, and some look more, hmmm….”floatatious”?…and yes that is a word–according to urban dictionary.
You may wonder how the heck swimmers can be that fast if they are not lean and muscular, but swimming is different from other sports in the sense that we are moving through water and there are quite a few other factors, but that is not the point of this post.
Now the point–Have you ever looked at a swimmers behind? Or rather, where their glutes should be located? If you haven’t, you are not missing much, seriously, and the reason is that even though swimming is a full body workout, the glutes are probably activated the least. And even though swimmers typically strength train, they are so used to using their quads and hamstrings while swimming that those muscles are what they use to squat with as well.
Now why am I telling you this? Well having been a swimmer (that thankfully escaped the pancake rear problem at least visually speaking), it took me a long time to learn how to activate my glutes. And for anyone that has a lagging muscle group, they understand how frustrating it can be to grow a specific muscle. I still struggle at times and it is something I continue to work on, but here are three tips that I have learned along the way to growing my glutes:
1. Focus on What You’re Working– Now I know this may seem obvious, but what are you focusing on when you are working your lagging muscle? Are you simply focusing on your technique (good start), or are you also thinking about USING the muscle that you are trying to work? I know when I do any type of shoulder work, I have to physically lower my scapulae, think about relaxing my traps, and then focus on activating my deltoids to lift my arms up. Talk about mentally exhausting, but for the longest time I was predominantly using my traps to lift my arms without even realizing it and wondering why my shoulders struggled to grow. So in order to grow a lagging muscle, you must figure out how to use the muscle while doing a specific exercise as well as decrease the firing of other muscles that may have been compensating.
2. Find Exercises that Work For You- I have read about different exercises to do for the glutes, and one exercise I see a lot is single leg glute bridges. Now I am sure these are effective in building the glutes, but when I perform a single leg bridge, my hamstrings and low back completely take over. I have tried to force my glutes to work, but not much luck, so I have resorted to loading up a bar, setting it on my hips, and doing hip thrusts with both of my feet on the ground. I can feel my glutes firing, so I know it is going to work a lot better for me than a single leg bridge. Here is a video of Molly Galbraith repping out 225.
3. Be Persistent- Lagging muscles are out of shape. They are weaker than your other muscles that have most likely been taking over, so don’t expect this process to be easy or quick. This process may take months to even years, but keep persistent and don’t give up! Muscles need to be taught, and with some things (referring back to my days taking chemistry) it take a while to get the hang of it!