by Kim Clements, ACE certified Instructor
The hip joints are crucial in enabling you to walk, bend, climb, sit and stand with ease. They require strong surrounding muscles to give them the stability and support they need. The trio of Glutes, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, perform that job for you. The glutes are a large set of muscles that together connect your trunk to your legs. They support the hip joint enabling you to move with strength and control. Whether you are a competitive athlete or a frisky senior citizen, it’s important to include glute work in your daily exercise regime.
BACK LEG LIFTS
Holding onto a chair or wall, lift and lower your straight leg directly behind you. This is not a swinging action or a kick. It is a lift utilizing the glutes to control the movement. Your core muscles, particularly along your back, are working hard to keep your body absolutely stable throughout the exercise, with your head and chest lifted. After 20 – 30 repetitions with a straight leg, change sides. Adding an ankle weight, or a circular band around your ankles will increase the challenge.
SIDE LEG LIFTS
Holding onto a chair or wall, lift and lower your straight leg to the side. Again, this is not a swing or a kick. You are challenging your glutes to control the lifting and lowering movement while your core keeps you tall and stable. Most important is to control your posture on the supporting side, which is the chair side. Your side core muscles are challenged to keep you erect. No leaning on the chair! Switch sides after 20 – 30 repetitions. Adding an ankle weight or a circular band while add to the challenge.
OPEN THE GATE
Holding onto a chair, lift your leg into a knee lift. Plant your foot on the side of your leg, and then open and close your hip as if it were a gate. This action will encourage improved range of motion in the joint, while challenging the glute muscles when they are holding the open position. Again, move slowly, taking care to keep the chair side of your trunk lifted and tall. No leaning on the chair!
There are many ways to challenge your glutes in a club or at home. I’ve chosen these standing exercises for you due to the added challenge of keeping your core strong to maintain good posture and thus, improved balance.