Think about your day-to-day life. You walk, sit, stand, move to the side, turn around, back up, twist, turn, and SO much more. Do you just walk in a straight line the entire day? No. Do you never move side-to-side? No. You move in ALL directions EVERY day. This isn’t just when you’re playing sports, this is when you’re just simply living life. So, why would we not focus on strengthening your hips in ALL directions?
Your glutes are the main driver of your hips. They are supposed to be the strongest and most activated in your lower body. However, this isn’t the case for many people. When you think of glutes, what motion do you think of? Hip extension or extending your leg straight back, right? That is not wrong, however (and this is a big however), they do SO much more than that!!
You have 3 different main glute muscles (shown in picture below). Glute maximus is the largest one and mainly does hip extension. Glute medius and glute minimus abducts the hip and internally rotates the hip. Without the fancy words that basically means the biggest muscle helps you kick your leg straight back, while the two other smaller (but VERY important) ones assist in kicking your leg out to the side. We focus on glute maximus a TON with lunging, squatting, deadlifting, sprinting, walking, etc. What we don’t focus on is other directions! How often do you lunge back in a 45-degree angle? How often do you lunge to the side? How often do you side shuffle instead of run straight?
To build a strong foundation we need to start working in ALL directions and focus on glute medius/glute minimus! Yes, we use those two in motions as squatting, lunging, running, etc. still because they help us stabilize, however, we need to start doing exercises that FOCUS on them. Below are a few of my favorite exercises to focus on strengthening of your hips that we don’t focus a ton on!
1. 45 degree angle glute kickbacks 2. Lateral Lunges
3. Banded Side Steps
4. Bench Stepovers
5. Seated Abduction (Explained in “My New Favorite Glute Exercise” Article
We don’t move in one direction, so why would we train in one direction? Try throwing these exercises into your leg day routine and see the BURN that you didn’t even know existed! As always, let’s train hard, but train smart also!
What should I do if I’m doing banded lateral walks and I feel my knee collapsing in?
If you feel your knee caving in, put the band closer to the glute. If you can’t control the knee in that movement with the band farther away it means you need to build up strength in order to eventually move the band farther down. By having the resistance coming from farther away, you have a longer lever arm to control. Now not only do you have to control the glute with that banded kickback, you have to control the knee and lower leg that the resistance band is acting on also. By having a resistance coming from closer, you have a shorter lever arm to control. You ONLY have to control the glute and the resistance coming directly from the band since it is not below the knee.
I’ve seen people change the position of their feet when doing quad extensions… why?
By changing the position of your leg you change which quad muscle you target. That right there will work your quads in a completely different way. By changing the angle of your leg, (turning your foot in, straight, or out) it targets different muscles that make up your “quad.”
By rotating your foot in, you target more of the outside of your quad (vastus lateralis).
By rotating your foot out, you target more of the inside of your quad (vastus medialis (aka vastus medialis oblique “VMO”).
By keeping your foot straight, you target more of the central muscle (rectus femoris/vastus intermedius).
Should I just do sit-ups for abs?
Let’s take a look at the anatomy here real quick. Your “abs” consist of a few different layers. You have your deep core, which is the foundation of your entire house. It’s your diaphragm, pelvic floor, and transverse abdominis. This facilitates breathing, keep your insides from falling out, and helps with keeping your spine stable. Then you have the middle layer. That consists of your internal and external obliques. Finally, we have the “6-pack layer.” Your rectus abdominis. Yeah it may look good, but if you have poor foundation with your deep core, you’re setting yourself up for failure. We want to do MULTIPLE things (including breathing) to strengthen your abs or core. In an article soon I will let you know what those things are 😉