In previous articles, I spoke on how an effective glute training program can help you in your everyday life, injury prevention, athletic performance, and overall aesthetics. In this article we will discuss the mechanisms that go into a complete workout to show and explain how effective glute training is essentially total body training. This article will be a tad more technical than most, but I will do my best to explain things in laymen’s terms while still giving justice to the science of it all, so bare with me as we dive a little deeper into this topic
Technical Stuff: I will try not to bog this article down too much with this but bear with me. We need to talk a little bit about loading, load placement, foot placement, limb placement, rep style and cadence to really delve deep into this topic even more.
Loading: This basically refers to how the load is placed through the body, for this we will have two main categories. The first is what’s called Axial Loading. This means the load is placed primarily through the midline axis, spine, of the body. This is considered a more traditional style lift, such as the Squat, and deadlift. These lifts generally will place the body under the most stress, stimulate the most muscle mass and stimulate the most central nervous system (CNS) activity.
The other type of loading is called anteroposterior loading. This is a fancy term which basically means the load is placed from the front of the body through the back side of the body, think in terms of exercises like bench pressing, or being more glute specific, glute bridge and hip thrust (more on these in another article) these don’t place as much stress on the CNS, but do stimulate a lot of muscle and act as great secondary exercises to help yield great results.
Load Placement: For this let’s familiarize ourselves with two terms, superior and inferior. This speaks to the aspect of where the load is placed upon the body and not on the effectiveness. A load that has superior placement means the load is placed above the waist exercises like squats, front squats, good mornings and over head press.
Inferior loading is the opposite, it is where the load is placed below the waist (think reverse hyper extensions, monster walks, cable kickbacks, again more on these in a later article) Superior loaded exercises cause more CNS stimulation which serves them better placed early on in the workout, while inferior loaded exercises don’t cause as much CNS stimulation, are better placed at the end of a workout, but can be very effective at stimulating large volumes of muscle and developing good pump and mechanical tension
Foot placement: This is pretty straight forward, you have bilateral and unilateral. Bilateral, doing things with both legs involved (ex. squats, and deadlifts). Unilateral, doing things one leg at a time i.e. lunges and their number of variations. Bilateral exercises allow you to maximize the most possible weight used. Unilateral work allows you to work each limb individually, helps address imbalances and bring up the weaker limbs, also helps bring in the smaller muscle groups to help stabilize the joint and create a different effect on the muscles
Limb placement/activity: This basically refers to what your legs are doing during the exercise. First there are Bent Leg movements, basically where you get maximum hip and maximal knee flexion and extension through the movement, i.e. Squats and lunges. These exercises involve the hamstrings in the middle phase of the movements more, and also bring the quads heavily into play and are often dubbed more quad focused movements.
The second category is semi-bent Leg movements, where you have maximal hip flexion and extension without full movement of the knee, think deadlifts, good mornings and exercises of that nature. These exercises heavily involve the glutes but also begin to bring the hamstrings more into the party, in this category are some of the “bread and butter” posterior chain developers.
Finally there are straight leg movements, this is basically where the knee is locked in a straight position and all the action is in the hip. These exercises all but take way quad activity and place it solely on the glutes and hamstrings, think here exercises like hyperextensions and reverse hyperextensions primarily. These are great ways to really hammer away at the glutes and hamstrings and spare the stress and loading on the lower back.
Rep Execution: This can be a little tricky seeing that some exercises can be done in multiple fashions but I’ll keep this as simple as possible. First thing is an explosive style rep. If you know anything about primal you know our bread and butter movement is the kettlebell swing, this is the prime example of an explosive glute focused movement. Also, Olympic lifts count as well, the snatch, the clean and the high pull, all using heavier loads and exploding through full movements. These movements have high athletic carry over and can help improve overall performance and ability.
Second style is a flex loading rep, this is basically where the muscle is loaded under stress but not placed under maximal stretch. These are your simple squat and lunge variations as well as the bridging motions these work a lot of muscle and really load the spine and bring a lot of joints into play. They also maximize glute contraction at the end phase of the movement, but don’t place it under a maximal stretch. These exercises are great to be used early on in the workout when you’re fresh to really get in some good work
Lastly and definitely not least are the stretch reflex exercises, These are some of your more superior glute and hamstring developers because they place the muscle under a high load in a stretched position which is going to elicit the greatest muscle activation and loads the muscle in a stretched position and really work that area of the body in the manner it was made to be worked. The movement that allows the glutes to be best worked in this manner are all the major hip hinging motions, i.e. deadlifts, good mornings, hyperextensions. These are some of the best exercises to really build and strengthen not only the glutes, but the entire posterior chain as well as the entire posterior portion of the body, almost every muscle from your ankle to the back of your head will be worked. These exercises can really can be used as the meat and potatoes of the workout, but can also be used at the end of the workout to really “finish” off the muscle.
Wrap up: I hope you guys are still here with me, I tried to be as brief as I could while explaining some of the mechanisms that come into training the glutes and working the entire body.
In my next two articles I will explain how to bring all of this together and to make effective programs and workouts to cater to any goals. I will explain how many exercises can cross into different categories and how to properly group exercises together to get the maximum benefit from your training. I will delve into improved glute training for athletes, women and yes even men, much more information to come your way, stay tuned and keep your eyeballs peeled for more insightful information.