Workout Wednesday: Glute Bridges

Hi There!
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a strength training move tutorial for the abs….well, today, it’s time for a lower body strength training move! Lower body is my favorite to train, but it wasn’t always that way! (No pun intended.) I love lunges, and plie squats, but bridges are probably my favorite move. Now, I know there has been a glute craze recently, but there are far more reasons to strengthen the largest muscle group in your body other than getting rid of cellulite! Here are 3:
1. To prevent back pain – your glutes are part of the posterior chain of muscles that include the erector spinae (the muscles that run vertically along side your vertebrae) and your hamstrings (backs of your legs). If one link in this chain is weak, then your back health is greatly put at risk, because the largest muscles in your body can’t do the job…think about it.
2. To burn more calories – muscle builds calories. The larger the muscle, the more calories you burn, but steady state cardio will not build muscle. Strengthening the glutes will burn more calories, because you need lean muscle to burn calories, even at rest…no muscle…no burned calories…no glutes, less calories  burned…Make sure you strength train the rest of your body too!
3. To protect your knees – I love squats and lunges, but depending on how they’re performed, a too much emphasis can be placed on the front side of the knee or the quads…Your muscles support your joints, and your hamstrings need to be strengthened as well. Glute bridges also strengthen your hamstrings, and your strength for certain movements, such as running will come from your glutes, not just your quads.

The how to: lie on your back. Feet flat on the floor hip width apart. (Feet should be about 12 inches from your glutes.) Pulling your navel toward your spine, press into your heels, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the floor…keep squeezing your glutes as you pause at the top.
Slowly lower your hips back to the start but don’t quite touch the floor. This is a great move to incorporate into the beginning or end of a workout!

Once you master the beginner version try this more advanced version! Just plant one heel into the ground. contract abs and glutes, and lift!

What’s your favorite lower body strength training move? Let me know in the comments below! Want better muscle definition, contact me to find out about a plan to help you get there!

Happy Hump Day!
Julie

Strength 101: Frog Crunches

Hi There! So let’s talk abs again! With summer on the way, we’d all probably like to make sure that we’re making the most of our ab workouts right? So many times we hit the fibers of our upper abs, but neglect the fibers in our lower abs. This is where these frog crunches come in. This move came straight out of 21 Day Fix, and it’s simple, but whoa, is it ever effective! You’ll want to start out by lying on your back/supine, with your legs extended, toes turned out. Your lower back should not be arching off the floor. Maintain toes turned out, bring your knees toward your chest, and simultaneously crunch up off the floor, bringing head towards knees. Exhale, drawing belly button in as you crunch. Try doing anywhere from 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions. Your abs play an important role in protecting your back, ladies, especially after having children. I haven’t had children yet, but I’ve seen many women who don’t exercise between pregnancies, and develop major back problems because their core muscles haven’t been strengthened. So my point is core training is vital, not just for aesthetics, but for making everyday tasks easier.
How to: Lie on your back. Beginners bring legs straight up to a 90 degree angles, the more advanced may lower their legs closer to the floor. Turn toes out as far as possible, pressing heels together. Place hands behind head and look at your belly button. For those with gentle necks, place a towel behind your head, and hold onto each end. Crunch up, bringing your knees towards you and exhaling. your knees will separate, but your toes must remain turned out. Inhale, extending your legs and lowering your head. Repeat.

This is a great move that will have your abs burning on rep 2…trust me. What’s your favorite ab move? Tell me in the comments! Have a great day and come back on Friday as I dish on food! (Pun intended.) 🙂

Fitness Friday: The Truth About Glutes Training.

For those of you who’ve read my post on Monday, there seems to be a recurring theme this week. Glutes training…yes, I said a dirty word…lol. We North Americans of the protestant variety have this outlandish ideas that training this group of muscles is taboo…When people ask me what I’m training on a particular day, and I reply “glutes”…there are often snickers, winks, and creepy looks. eewww…The thing is, for women this muscle is sooo important – to metabolism, overall body fat, back pain relief, and so much more. The thing is, this group of muscles is the largest group of muscles in the body. The larger the muscle, the more calories it burns…do the math. These muscles are responsible for hip extension and hip rotation. They are very important. Have you ever noticed people who carry all the weight on the front of their body. (i.e., gut). They tend to have a much greater tendency for low back pain, all because they have weak glutes. The muscles in the front of their bodies over compensate for this, and as a result, the whole backside of their posterior chain is weak and prone to injury. Training legs, and glutes 2x a week will help with this. It doesn’t have to take hours, it can take minutes of your time. Here’s a tough workout, but it will help you get your glutes in shape. Remember my article on supersets, well here’s the chance to apply that knowledge! Drink lots of water and eat your veggies and protein, and you’ll be on the right track!

Warm-up: Do 20 small plies with heels close together and hips tucked under. This is not a large movement. Bend your knees, maintaining abs and hips, then straighten legs, contracting glutes. 

Side Lunge to Curtsey: Standing with feet together. Step right leg out to one side. Lower, really pushing hips back, then push off right leg to return and curtsey lunge back with your left leg. This one works wonders, in my personal experience, and targets the entire leg area. 
 
Squats: Use a squat machine, or squat with a resistance band or dumbbells.  Keep your feet wider to engage the glutes. Lower to parallel, then return to standing, squeezing glutes.

Jump Squats: Lower into a 3/4 squats. Lift off explosively, contracting glutes. Land with knees bent. Make it Easier: If you’ve never performed plyometric movements, substitute this for body weight, full-range squats. 

Hamstring Curl on the Ball: Lie on your back, with feet on an exercise ball. Dig your heels into the ball and curl your legs towards you, contracting your hamstrings and glutes. Slowly curl the ball away from you, maintaining lifted hips. 

Hip Thrust: Yes, I just wrote that on paper… grow up. Sit on the floor with a weight across your hips and shoulders against a bench or chair. Squeeze glutes and lift hips to parallel with floor, pause, then lower, but don’t touch the floor. 

Workout Wednesday:Tempo Training and how it works.

There are times when we work for every rep in strength training, and then there are times, when we mindlessly go through the motions. It’s easy to do this with body weight, and resistance bands, and I’ll admit…sometimes, I need a little help being mindful of my muscles working. That’s were tempo training comes in. Tempo training forces you to use your muscles instead of momentum to do the work, so that you’re focusing on the work of your muscles to do the job. Here’s an example: Squat – instead of down, up, down, up think of this motion in phases and use a different amount of time for each segment. For example, 3 sec. to lower into parallel. 2 seconds to standing and 2 seconds at the top of the movement, contracting the glutes. Try it. You’ll definitely feel the muscles working. It usually only takes about 3 or for exercises for a muscle group to get completely burnt out when done this way, but sometimes, it’s good to shock your muscles, and this is one of the best ways to do it.Think quality over quantity.

Squats: keep knees and toes in the same directions, no pidgeon toes! Place hands in front of you  lower 3 seconds, stand 2 seconds, squeeze 2 seconds.

Push-ups: Even those of you who can do full push-ups may want to do the modified push-ups this time. Lower 2 seconds, push up 2 seconds, pause 3 seconds. This will help enable you to do more full push-ups, and get great abs.

Reverse Crunches: Zip up those abs and keep ’em zipped! Lower 3 seconds, Lift 2 seconds, Pause 3 seconds

Single-Leg Dead Lift: Find a focus point. This move was never meant to be rushed any way. If you’re unsure, add resistance and try a stiff-legged dead lift. But most importantly , your back must stay straight, abs in!
Throughout the movement. If your back rounds, you’ve lowered too far. Lower 3 seconds, lift 3 seconds, pause 2 seconds. (Add that squeeze.)

Bicep Curls: Use tubing or weights for this one. Lower 3 seconds, lift 2 seconds, pause at the top 3 seconds…this is a killer with resistance bands.

Side Plank with Hip Dip: Zip it up! Lower 2 seconds, lift 3 seconds, pause 3 seconds.

I would love your questions/comments on anything posted on this page! Thank you for reading! And if you like what you see, share the love!
Exercise tutorials are available on http://www.acefitness.org/