Today we’re talking about, what else? The booty.
Because who doesn’t want a good looking bum?
A while back I wrote a a post about the number one exercise you should be doing to build a bigger and stronger back side — you can check that out here. While that is absolutely the #1 exercise for glutes in my opinion, there are several others that deserve mention as well.
First of all, why is this muscle group so important to train? No, it’s not just about sculpting a J-Lo-esque backside, although who doesn’t want that? It’s about the health and comfort of everything from your low back on down to your toes. Yes, your glutes play a huge part in the health of just about every joint from the low back down, including your hips, knees, and ankles. Don’t believe me? That’s another post for another time (and one that is coming soon, don’t worry!) But know this: just about all of the athletes that I treat for injuries end up doing significant amounts of gluteal work no matter what their lower body woe. Ankle sprain? Glutes. Hip muscle strain? Glutes. Chronic low back pain? Glutes. And do you know what? They get better.
There’s a reason that one of my athletes wrote me a card at the end of this year which said that the #1 thing that she learned from me this year was that “glutes save lives”. It’s probably my most beloved muscle group, as well as a muscle group that ends up severely untrained and underutilized in much of the population (yes, even the very active population that I see in collegiate sports).
And although they are a hugely powerful muscle group, in many people they become inhibited and underutilized, mainly due to hours spent sitting…and sitting and sitting every single day. What that means is that sometimes just doing squats and lunges isn’t enough, because if your gluteus muscles aren’t “awake”, other muscle groups such as your hip flexors and hamstrings will take over for them. Thus beginning/continuing a feedback loop of never ever using those muscles for much of anything. And that’s not good for anyone.
So what can you do? There are certain exercises out there that are just about guaranteed to activate and strengthen your gluteal group, as long as they are performed correctly. One of the best is the hip thruster, which was mentioned above. However, a glute exercise worth honorable mention is the Cable Pull Through.
This is a lift that yes, looks quite awkward, and may make you a bit uncomfortable at first. But once you get over that, it’s a hell of a booty builder! You can thank me later. And hey — if you’re already on the hip thrusters bandwagon, there’s almost nothing more awkward than thrusting your hips up in the air while making eye contact with a perfect stranger. So you can do this, I promise!
The Set Up
You’re going to set up a cable machine with the rope handle attachment at the lowest level, and a light to moderate weight on the weight stack. Stand with your back to the machine, feet about hip width apart, hinge your hips, and reach through your legs to grab the rope handle.
Keeping your back in that nice healthy flat position, with your hips pushed back and knees slightly bent, pull the handle until you feel tension on the cable. You may have to step forward a few steps. Keeping your back flat the entire time, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward, bringing your torso to an upright position. You are essentially performing a very similar movement to the Romanian Dead Lift, just with a cable between your legs instead of a bar in front of your legs.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll realize that this is where it makes most people uncomfortable.
At the top of the position, give your glutes a good squeeze to “lock out” the movement, taking care to not hyperextend or arch your low back at the top. Your hands, and the rope, will end up right between your legs.
Yes, right in your danger zone. 😉
Here I am doing these last week. Not only are they a great glute accessory exercise, but they are a great alternative to super heavy dead lifts during pregnancy!
Slowly hinge your hips back, and return so that your hands are between your legs, down at about between your knees.
As in all deadlifting and hip hinge type exercises, your back position is extremely important here. During the hinge phase, you must take extra care to make sure that your back doesn’t arch or round too much, and at the top position, you must again take care to not arch your lower back (which you might do if the weight is too much and you’re using your back to compensate for lack of glute strength). Don’t be the hero just to lift more weight — you’re not impressing anyone and you’re opening yourself up for serious injury!
If you are away from the gym or if your gym does not have a cable machine set up, these can also be done with a resistance band attached to something low and solid on the ground, such as a fence post or a post of a power rack.
One of my awesome bootcamp ladies doing these last week with the band attached to a fence. Take your workout anywhere!
Start with the weight quite low — try about 15 lb, and increase from there. Much better to start too light than to go too heavy and risk injury.
Build those booties people, glutes save lives!
Any questions? Do you include cable pull throughs in your workouts at all? If you try these for the first time, let me know how you like them!