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Advice and guidance from a physical therapist
Vanity is a key motivator in working the butt. We want a firm and round one. But there’s much more to it than appearance.
Stand Up – Go Walking
Did you know that the human body is equipped with a set of muscles called “anti-gravity muscles”? Did you know they’re in your buttocks? Read on to learn more about how strong buttocks support your posture and your endurance.
Physical therapist Anders Pedersen suggests it’s totally against nature that we humans walk upright. We are among very few mammals who walk on two legs, and that’s a huge load on the body.
The farther a mass is removed from Earth, the greater the pressure on it. Anders Pedersen explains that our upright bodies are working AGAINST gravity.
Were we to walk on all fours, the pressure would be distributed in a different way. As upright beings we experience an enormous pressure on the spine. To compensate, we need to choose the correct exercise and focus on the anti-gravity muscles, including the ones in our buttocks.
The muscles in our buttocks connect our upper and lower bodies and provide for balance and movement.
As humans, we start out as small “C” shapes. Then we straighten out to stand and walk, and finally we return to the “C” shape as we age. Throughout our lives, we stress our bodies as we sit at desks in positions that are counter to our upright stance, thereby pushing ourselves back into the “C” shape dictated by gravity. Anders Pedersen explains:
Our bodies cannot keep up with the lifestyles that are strengthening the muscles pulling us back to the “C” shape. That’s why it’s so important to strengthen the muscles that hold us upright – and among those, the buttock muscles are especially important.
Stand Up Straight
Many consider their rear end to be nothing but a sitting device. It’s not understood properly as a bridge between our lower and upper body that keeps us upright and strong.
The posterior consists of several key muscles with significant impact on our mobility and balance. They are gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. As the name implies, gluteus maximus is the largest of the three. It’s the one closest to the skin, the one we see and feel and interpret as our buttock (figure 1).
Gluteus medius is a cutlet-shaped muscle attached to the hip, and minimus is the smallest of the three, hidden behind the other two. Gluteus maximus keeps us upright, gets us up from a sitting to a standing position, and gives us the ability to maintain balance. It resists the pressure imposed by gravity during our entire lives. If this muscle is out of function, the body cannot stand up straight.
In his work as a physical therapist, Anders Pedersen has witnessed what happens when we don’t pay attention to the muscle groups that keep us walking and standing.
In conjunction with a strong back, the muscles in the buttocks work to keep us erect and on our feet. If the large buttock muscle doesn’t function properly for whatever reason, you may experience pain in the back, hip, knee, and lower leg. In some cases, injuries may result.
Therefore, you should rather give your butt a good deal of attention – and lots of workout. Checking a good butt off your wish list is just an extra benefit.
ANDERS’ TIPS for anti-gravity muscles
We have been equipped with anti-gravity muscles in the full length of our body, and they need attention. They need to be stronger than the muscles that ‘fold’ us.
For this reason, you should pay attention to mix of exercises in your program. If you do a lot of stomach exercises, you should include back exercises
Three Exercises for Strengthening the Buttocks and the Back
1. GLUTE BRIDGE
Lie on the floor with your legs bent and your arms comfortably beside you. Pull your navel toward your spine and tighten your buttocks. Lift your pelvis and lower back while slowly inhaling. Raise your lower back as high off the floor as you can. Hold the position for a few seconds. Return to the starting position while exhaling. Repeat 10 times (1 set). Pause briefly and do two more sets.
2. GLUTE BRIDGE – SINGLE LEG
Lie on your back with your arms comfortably beside you, one leg bent and the other stretched out at approximately a 45-degree angle. Tighten buttocks and thigh muscles. Lift the pelvis and lower back off the floor while slowly inhaling. Hold the position for a few seconds. Slowly return to the starting position while exhaling. Switch legs and repeat. Do one set of 10 exercises, alternating legs, then do two more sets.
3. DIAGONAL LIFT
Lie flat on your stomach with your arms stretched above your head. Lift one arm and the opposite leg off the floor while inhaling and slowly lower them while exhaling. Switch sides and repeat. Repeat 10 times, alternating arms/legs. Do 3 sets in total.
For an extra strength challenge, place a kettlebell or a couple of dumbbells on your stomach during the first two of the exercises above.
This is also available in: Dansk