On any given Monday, you can anticipate the bench press and all the free benches occupied at the gym. Every Monday is National Chest Day (NCD). Every other day of the week you can expect as much as 50% of the same equipment is under the stress of “a good lift.” I don’t know what the obsession is with the chest.
Sometimes it’s like gym rats think there is some race to be the first one who can’t stand up for tipping forward.
Stop all that. What you need before the biceps, before the chest, is a strong foundation. No human body is stronger than its weakest link. For most of us, that would be the booty.
I know, I know… your feet are your true base, but the glutes connect the upper body to your legs.
The Glutes, by function not size, stabilize one of the most mobile parts of our body, the hips; they give our upper bodies the foundation from which to move objects through space, but first we have to tackle this one problem…
The Problem With the Booty
It is a matter of our modern lifestyle. We sit. We go from the breakfast table to the car seat. We get out of the car, then sit in our office. We leave the office to sit in a meeting. Then we sit in our cars, go home to a seated dinner, and finally lie down to sleep.
There is nothing wrong with your butt. Even if you’re using it all wrong, it has all the potential of the best booties in the world. The complicated answer to what is wrong with it, is something about reciprocal inhibition and synergistic dominance.
I’ll spare you the lesson in body mechanics.
It means when you sit, your butt does nothing. The muscles that allow you to sit, your hip flexors, do a lot. Most importantly they hold in that seated position.
The other problem is, because of this, when you stand up, your hamstrings kick to help for sleeping booty. In fact, because they’re so helpful, your hammies do all the work.
Over time, the booty can atrophy like any other unused muscle.
Not About Size
Let’s be clear, this is not about growing a massive badonkadonk. We are not dealing with a measure of size, although size and strength can sometimes correlate.
This is about the functionality of your body’s strongest muscles. (There are three muscles that are gluteal.) When you stand, many muscles contribute the overall goal.
Some would argue your quads do as much work as the glutes, but the quads cannot straighten out your hips. They are secondary movers in the standing equation. It’s the booty that carries the majority of the load.
The stronger the glute muscles, the more effective your stand. Don’t let the size big or small distract you too much. I know we’re vain creatures, but prioritize function over fashion.
Everything Rests On This
It’s not just your body, it’s the way your body moves. The act of sitting down can actually help develop these muscles, but staying seated works against you. Sitting could be good for you.
If you spent your day sitting, then standing back up, then sitting again, you would be so much better off, assuming you used your glutes the right way.
For many of us, we lower ourselves to sitting with our lower backs and hamstrings. Once we bend to sit, the glutes go offline and we drop into the chair. It’s not only sitting either. It’s when we lie down, like in a bench press. (Are you listening NCDers?)
The strength of your booty stabilizes your hips when you bench, allowing you to push more weight, the same way your booty helps you push a car out of a snowbank. When you move, your glutes should rarely be offline.
What Can One Do?
So, what can you do about it? You could read do this workout, but it’s advanced.
If you’re getting started, I encourage you to slow down. Develop your isometric strength over increasing your repetitions. It’s not glamorous work, but it is key.
Train your booty like it was two muscles, left and right. Learning to use each side is as important as developing the way both sides work together. Do one-legged wall sits without twisting your pelvis for as long as you can hold it before trying to best your personal record in squatting.
If we’re talking about standing moves, get your standing lunges right before you go to a walking lunge. If you are performing bridges, you may have to start with two-leg versions, but perfect your one-leg bridges before you add weight.
Perform reverse extensions one leg at a time.
More important than your workout, learn to sit in a controlled descent. Don’t perfect staying seated. Resist it. Sit as long as you have to then, then stand up.
If you can start with one time per day, then you can add another when you’re ready. Keep adding up the sits until you no longer think about it.
The goal is you get that booty working all the time, even when you’re not thinking about it.