Build Stronger Glutes With These 3 Easy Exercises!
Glutes have been enjoying a moment for awhile now in the fitness world. Popular aesthetics aside, the quest for strong, powerful glutes is a good thing, as your large posterior muscles not only help you stand, sit, lift, and climb, but they also stabilise your pelvis and can help prevent back pain.
Although you use your glutes to sit on your bike, cycling – depending on where and how you ride – doesn’t always build these important muscles.
In fact, you could probably ride across the Karoo (the pancake flat part anyway) while your butt muscles mostly snooze, explains kinesiologist Stuart McGill, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, chief scientific officer at Backfitpro Inc., and author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance.
“Typical cycling challenges the thighs – the quads and the hamstrings – but not really the gluteals,” he says. There are exceptions. “Sprinters use the glutes for acceleration. Hill climbers will use them when they’re out of the saddle. Otherwise, you will see most cyclists with hypertrophied [enlarged] legs, but the same could not be said for their glutes.”
Weak, underdeveloped glutes can be a problem if you have a history of back pain and can compromise your hip mobility and set the stage for hip impingement (if you’ve ever gotten off your bike and couldn’t stand up straight without some effort, you know how that feels). “Strong glutes can prevent those issues,” says McGill. But here’s the good news: You can build yours on and off the bike with a few simple moves.
How to use this list: The exercises below are demonstrated by Amanda Butler, certified personal trainer and creator of the Butler Method for NeoU Fitness, so you can master the perfect form. Aim to do these moves three days a week. Perform one to three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions, depending on your fitness level. You will need a looped resistance band. An exercise mat is optional. The last move is a bonus drill you can perform on the bike.
Banded Glute Bridge
How: Place a resistance band around your legs just above the knees. Lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat on floor, and arms resting at sides. Push knees out slightly so that there is tension on the band. Squeeze glutes and hamstrings to lift hips up off floor, keeping core engaged throughout so body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders. Lower hips and repeat.
Why: Cyclists sometimes have what McGill calls “mental glute amnesia.” Because of the chronic repetitive patterns of cycling, they “forget” to fire their glutes and tend to trigger their hamstrings to do all the work. McGill recommends firing up the quads when you do glute bridges to reduce the hamstring load.
How: Place a resistance band around both legs, just above or below your knees. Stand with feet just wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out slightly, hands clasped in front of chest. Keeping weight in your heels, send your butt and hips back as if sitting in a chair and lower down as far as possible, pressing your legs outward against the band. Return to starting position and repeat.
Why: Placing an exercise band just below or above (which makes it harder) the knees to perform bodyweight squats adds an extra challenge. Pressing outward to maintain tension on the band will activate your glutes and hips.
For a bonus on-the-bike move, head to the hills and climb in and out of the saddle to really get your rear in gear. Find an 8- to 10-minute climb and do a series of three hill repeats on it, alternating between standing and sitting so you spend about half the hill charging out of the saddle.