The Gluteus Maximus (main buttocks muscle) is the largest muscle in your body and provides a key link between your pelvis and lower extremities. Today’s lifestyle requires a lot of sitting whether this be at work, in the car or in front of the TV. This means our buttocks are becoming weaker and weaker which leaves us open to an array of injuries to our back, pelvis, hips, knees and even ankles.
Our glutes are one of the strongest muscles in the human body and are the largest influence when doing hip extension. This means we need our glutes to walk, run and jump. We also need our glutes to work effectively to keep out joints stable. Our SIJ (Sacroilliac joints) of the pelvis rely very heavily on the activation and strength of the glutes. This is also the same for the lumbar spine and hips. Without the glutes these joints become unstable especially when putting extra load through them such as picking up your kids or shopping bags.
Exercises to Try
1. Stand with feet hip width apart with your hands on your bottom. Try and squeeze your bottom and hold for 10 sec. a. Can you feel your glute muscles tighten? b. Can you hold this contraction for 10 sec? i. If you answered no to either of these questions you may have poor neurological control of your glutes which leaves you at risk of back, pelvic hip and knee pain.
2. Lying on your back have complete a single leg bridge (as seen in picture). One leg should be bent whilst the other is raised in the air. Try to squeeze your bottom and raise your hips upwards. If one hip droops to one side then your glutes on the grounded side are weak.
Work Out Tip – How Many Sets/Reps Should I Complete
The number of sets and reps that you do for each exercise is highly dependent on what you are wanting to achieve out of your training program.
Someone who plays a high intensity, power based team sport such as netball or basketball would ideally want to increase their strength and then progress to improve their power and speed. However, perhaps you enjoy hiking or running marathons where endurance based program is more suited to allow you to continue at a constant speed for longer.
Here is a description of each fitness goal to allow you to select the correct sets and reps for your gym program:
• Endurance- Ability to maintain a certain activity at a constant speed for longer • Hypertrophy – Increasing the size of a muscle • Strength – Ability to move a certain amount of weight • Power – Ability to more a certain amount of weight quickly
The following table demonstrates the required number of sets and reps needed to focus on each specific goal:
Fitness goal Sets Repetitions Rest between sets Endurance 3 15-20 30 sec Hypertrophy 3-4 8-12 1 min Strength 4-5 6-8 2 min Power/Speed 5-6 6-8 2-4 minutes
Make sure you read our previous article ‘What weight should I choose’ http://www.mdhealth.com.au/weight-using/ and you will be able to apply this general rule of weight selection:
“If the last 2 reps of each set are hard to complete without losing technique you have the correct weight however, if it was too easy to complete or you could not complete all of the repetitions your weight is too light or too heavy!”
Written by Beth Chiuchiarelli Exercise Physiologist at MD Health
Core Stability – How It Will Be Even Better In The Future
Following Nicholas’ rehabilitation after his disc prolapse, we have been working hard to determine the best way to incorporate some of the additional core stability training, in particular, Multifidus training, as part of everyone’s Pilates program over the next few months. So why is this important?
What Does Multifidus Do?
The Multifidus are a small group of back muscles which make up some of the deepest layers of the back muscles. In particular, they make up the ‘Local Stabilizing system’ of the lumbar spine, which means their major role is to keep one vertebrae (eg the top vertebrae) ‘stable’ over the other vertebrae (eg the bottom vertebrae), so that the power muscles, such as the erector spinae muscles can move the spine safely. In other words, the multifidus control the amount of glide one vertebrae has over the other. If this is ‘uncontrolled’, it puts pressure on the support structures such as the discs and facet joints, causing injury.
How Does Multifidus Differ From The Abdominal (Transversus Abdominus) Muscles In Core Stability?
These muscles work together, but are not the same thing. The Transversus abdominus muscle wraps around the body and attaches onto the spine indirectly through a thick layer of connective tissue called the thoraco-lumbar fascia. The multifidus muscle attaches directly on the lumbar spine and has a more direct action in maintaining core stability. Multifidus also attaches onto the thoraco-lumbar fascia, so the muscles are linked and enhance each other’s actions
How Do We Train Multifidus?
We can now view multifidus directly on ultrasound. Viewing the activation of this muscle will now become a standard part of your re-assessment and we will work on teaching everyone how to contract this muscle during their Pilates sessions over the next couple of months
• Kneel onto your hands and knees • Make a small arch in the lower back • ‘Squeeze’ the muscle of the lower back ‘in towards each other’. You should feel the muscle in the lower back puff up. Hold for 3 second
Don’t worry, we will be practicing these exercises during your Pilates sessions
Written by Nicholas Charalambous Physiotherapist at MD Health