THE 3D BOOTY
Training the Glutes for both Form and Function

The basics

Booties Butts Glutes and Rumps. Our fascination for enhancing our posterior transcends an entire training spectrum, from the aesthetic-focused client all the way to our performance-based clients. On both ends of the spectrum there continues to be a demand to enhance the way our backsides look but also function as evidenced by the increasing number of knee and low back injuries (Hoy et al, 2012). Our current view of the entire lumbo-pelvic-hip complex has a strong emphasis on concentric muscle activation and linear movement patterns leaving us with an incomplete perspective of how the hip joint and surrounding myofascia must receive and transmit a variety of forces. This article will first explore some unique kinesiological and biomechanical principles to widen our perspective on how the glutes function in many of our favorite exercises. Exercise strategies will then be provided to give your client the butt they've always wanted and the hip function they require to move optimally.

The Need to Move Multi-Directionally

As we peel back the layers of the buttocks, we find an abundance of myofascia that run multi-directionally around the pelvis, sacrum, and femur, allowing the hip to be one of the most stable but also mobile joints (Editor: do you guys have an anatomy picture of the glutes that shows the many layers?). Plus the close approximation of their insertion and origin points allows for good leverage and power for hip propulsion and stabilization. The multi-directional orientation of these muscles allows us to absorb and transmit force in a variety of directions but only if we train the body accordingly.

Traditional squats, lunges, and deadlifts transmit a predominantly large and unidirectional force, typically in the sagittal plane, through the hip/glute complex allowing us to greatly load the body in that direction. The toning and hypertrophy benefits gained here may come at a cost to the surrounding connective tissue as it becomes less resilient to handle multi-directional force. Luckily there is more than one way to promote hypertrophy of a muscle and it's been shown that multi-planar movements recruit more muscle fibers to be stimulated for mechanical stress along with intensities that are as low as 30% of a 1RM so long as the movement is done to failure (Burd 2012, Schoenfeld, 2010). If we promote multi-directional movement in our squat and lunge type patterns, the intent would be

  1. to stimulate more glute fibers to be exposed to mechanical stress (think muscle tone),

  2. promote connective tissue tolerance of multi-directional movement,

  3. enhance the responsiveness of the nervous system to multi-directional movement

4. maintain or even improve the integrity of the hip, knee, and spine.
5. progressively add more intensity and volume (mechanical stress) to multi-directional

movements for hypertrophic gains

Back to Kinesiology School

Conventionally we think of the glutes as having a primary function of creating hip extension, external rotation, and abduction. As a result, popular exercises such as Floor Bridges/Hip Thrusts, Side-Lying Clams, Prone Leg Raises, and cable hip extensions are selected based on their high muscle activation potential during these motions. While this conventional approach is not wrong and still is warranted, it only considers how the glute and hip function in the presence of gravity, with femur-on-pelvis motion and/or in a horizontal position relative to gravity. When we expose the upright body to not only the force of gravity, but also ground reaction force, coupled with pelvis-on-femur motion, we find that the glutes will actually "turn on" during their eccentric phase, and relatively speaking turn "off" during the concentric phase using the concept of "Load to Unload" (Lorenz 2011, Komi 2000). For example, the glutes will turn on during the deceleration of an anterior walking lunge but turn off as we stand up and propel ourselves forward onto the other leg. The coupling of the eccentric muscle contraction with the loading/lengthening of the fascial web help us maximize our energy potential following the principle of energy conservation (Komi 2000). Thus the glute complex receives the energy of gravity and ground reaction as the hip moves into Flexion, Relative Internal Rotation, and Relative Adduction, the opposite motions of how we usually interpret when the glutes activate (Wolf, 2011).The interplay of the neuro-myo-fascial systems and their timing to promote optimal hip, knee and lumbar motion is vital in maintaining the integrity of our joints and enhancing performance (Institute of Motion 2012).

This perspective now enhances our understanding of why Squats, Deadlifts and Lunges are great glute exercises, but will also give us a unique lens on how to perform these given exercises in multi-directional ways to truly take advantage of the glutes responsibility to both stabilize and create multi-planar motion at the hip while sending more mechanical stress into the gluteal complex for our clients that want to aesthetically enhance their butt.

Table 1: Conventional vs Progressive Approach to Glute Function

Perspective

Conventional

Progressive

Focus Point

Muscles

Muscles, Connective Tissue, Nervous System And Joint Motion

Activation

Concentric

Eccentric and Isometric

Force Profile

Gravity

Gravity + Ground Reaction Force

Hip Motion

Often Femur on Pelvis

Often Pelvis on Femur

Muscle Actions

Accelerates Hip Extension, Abduction, External Rotation

Decelerates Hip Flexion, Relative Adduction and Relative Internal Rotation

Position and direction

Horizontal and Sagittal

Vertical and Multi-dimensional

Level Based Approach to Progressive Glute Training

The following exercises may be new for you or your clients so it becomes imperative that we build a foundation for good movement and slowly progress the level of force the body (and specifically the glutes) can tolerate. If you can traditionally move a lot of weight with squats, lunges and deadlifts, it’s still important to practice these new movements unloaded first, with small ranges of motion and at speeds that promote rhythmical movement. As a tolerance is built to novel movements, a progression to bigger ranges of motion, faster speeds and greater mass is warranted. It may come as a surprise as to how sore the hips can become as a result of these exercises so avoid the mantra that more is better and follow this continuum to success.

Table 2: Threshold Training (Adapted from Institute of Motion)

Force
Range of Motion Speed of Motion Neural Complexity Metabolic Demand

T1 Low Small Slow Simple Low

T2
Medium Small-Moderate Medium Simple-Moderate Medium

T3
High Large Fast Complex High

Threshold Level 1:

These exercises begin with a known movement but may provide a new direction of stress into the body. They typically start with a stationary footprint and are designed to teach the rhythm of the foot/ankle, knees and hips to share the responsibility of a given

movement pattern. Movement must be pain free and initially should be kept to small ranges of motion and slow speeds. As a client improves, these exercises evolve into a great warm up for threshold 2 and 3 level exercises.

Threshold Level 2

Level 2 exercises are typically loaded and add complexity to a given movement pattern. The movements require the body to move at various heights, directions, distances and speeds. There is greater tissue and neural demand to execute these exercises. Best used as progressions of Level 1 exercises.

Threshold Level 3

Exercises in the higher levels require a higher demand of tissue and neural tolerance multi-directionally, with faster speeds and/or greater load. These exercises mimic the neural, mechanical and metabolic demands the client may need in daily life or sport. Expect the exercises to be more complex so proper rhythm should be established before progressing.

https://platform.instituteofmotion.com/library/session/5e29g3zx/

Putting it all Together: Hybrid Glute Workout

The following workout bridges the gap between the conventional and progressive approaches to glute strength training by using a superset format. The first exercise in each superset is a Level 1 or 2 progressive exercise followed by a heavy, linear, conventional exercise. The intent is to both mobilize the major joints of the body as well as increase neuromuscular recruitment with the progressive exercise allowing for increased performance on the conventional exercise. Increasing volume and intensity each week would be wise to place an adequate amount of mechanical stress to the glute area.

Workout A

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Rest

Superset 1:

A. ViPR SL Cross-over Deadlift B. Heavy Hip Thrusts

2-4

A. 6-8 Each Leg

B. 6-8

A. No rest
B. Rest 1 min and then

repeat superset

Superset 2:

A. Core-Tex Curtsy Lunge B. Heavy Barbell Squat

2-4

A. 10-12 Each leg

B. 6-10

A. No Rest
B. Rest 1 min and then

repeat superset

Superset 3:
A.
PowerPlate Wide Stance Lateral

Squat
B. Heavy KB 2-Arm Anterior Swing

2-4

A. 30-60sec B. 30-45 sec

A. No Rest
B. Rest 1 min and then

repeat superset

Superset 4:

A. SS Squat with Lat Arm Reach B. Heavy DB Lunges

2-4

  1. 8-10 each leg

  2. 6-10 each leg

A. No Rest
B. Rest 1 Min and then

repeat superset

Workout B also utilizes the superset format but places a heavy, linear conventional exercise on the body first before attempting a level 3 Progressive Exercise. The heavy stress combined with the multi-directional movements is designed to create unique multi-directional mechanical stress into the glutes for both optimal neuromuscular recruitment and to enhance connective tissue tolerance.

Workout B

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Rest

Superset 1:
A. Heavy Hip Thrusts B. Sandbell Ice Skaters

2-4

  1. 10-12 Each Leg

  2. 30-45 Sec

A. No rest
B. Rest 1 min and then

repeat superset

Superset 2:

A. Heavy Barbell Deadlift
B. Frontal Plane DB Deadlift

2-4

A. 6-8 B. 8-10

A. No Rest
B. Rest 1 min and then

repeat superset

Superset 3:

A. Heavy Barbell Squat
B. ViPR Rotational Overhead Deadlift

2-4

A. 6-8 B. 8-10

A. No Rest
B. Rest 1 min and then

repeat superset



GET IN TOUCH

We thank Derrick Price for contributing! Check out www.instituteofmotion.com for great insights.


INSTITUTE OF MOTION

Derrick Price

Institute of Motion

     

Derrick was a presenter at all editions of GTC, our annual conference for movement professionals.

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THE 3D BOOTY
Derrick Price 1 November, 2022
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