Glutes are the hardest-working muscles when it comes to running, but most of us are constantly glued to our chairs and that makes the glutes weak. Over time, these muscles become lax and unused to activity, reducing their ability to spring back into action when called upon. Adding more to this jibe, these muscles are often left out of runners’ strength training programs because it’s not an obvious target. But they are important because the gluteal muscles hold the pelvis steady, extend your hip, propel you forward, and keep the legs, pelvis, and torso aligned.
Now when you don’t work your glutes, they become faulty and less prone to activity, thereby affecting your entire kinetic chain, and range of motion. Studies have linked glute weakness to injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, runner’s knees, and the IT band syndrome, something that all runners dread.
But remember – glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities, which can make your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves disproportionately stronger. So, firstly, you need to isolate your glute workouts. Don’t assume that a certain workout takes care of your glutes. Make sure you focus on them separately.
Here are some exercises with minimal equipment that will make your glutes stronger and better.
Single Leg Cross Hip Bridge
To get your glutes in shape, start with simple exercises such as a single leg cross hip bridge. Lie on your back, with your left ankle crossed over your right thigh. With your hands crossed on your chest, contract your right buttock and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from the right knee to the neck. Try not to use your hamstrings to lift yourself. Complete 10 repetitions and then work your left glute.
This exercise will loosen up your hip flexors, which if tight can cause pulls and strains in your glute muscles. Step forward and lower your back knee. Keep your knee over your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds on each side. We recommend that you do this stretch after every run, without fail.
Single Leg Deadlift
Stand on one leg and put your other leg behind you and in the air. Keeping your shoulders back and your back straight, move forward and try to reach your hands toward the ground. Return back up and repeat. And make sure you switch your legs every 10 reps for a balanced workout.
Split Stance Deadlift
For this stand with your left foot half a step behind your right foot and with your right foot flat on the floor beneath your hip and only the toes of your left foot touching the floor. Bend at the hips and knees as you reach down with full extended arms and grab dumbbells placed on either side of your right foot.
Pause briefly when in the up position and then lower the dumbbells back toward the floor, stopping just before they touch the ground. Repeat, and do 10 reps for each leg.
Squats come in various forms, from wide squats to deep squats and to squat jumps. All of these contribute to strong gluteal muscular structure. Properly executed squats shape your butt in ways that’s simply not possible otherwise and they target the crucial hamstring as well. The depth you are able to achieve with each squat will vary as you keep exercising, but try to get to a parallel-to-the-ground position at first. Over time, parallel or above squatting will have very little effect on your glutes, so make sure you increase the depth of your squats as you go on.