When you think of glute workouts, what main exercises come to mind?
Hip thrusts, lateral band walks, clamshells, glute bridges, etc. While these exercises definitely have a place in our lower body workouts, a lot of postpartum moms already live in external rotation (waddle), with a clenched booty. If we are prescribing banded work that continues to work end range external rotation (pushing bands out all the time) and you still have trouble with hinging, a tight pelvic floor, and low back pain, perhaps there is a different approach to consider.
Looking at ways we can bring a bit more balance to our training approach is key. How can we unlock the glutes, breathe into the back side, and put ourselves in a better position to lengthen to strengthen and free up the back side?
Open the Posterior Pelvic Floor and Breathe into your Butt
Yes, you read that title right. By breathing into your butt I’m really referring to being able to feel air / pressure travel into your posterior pelvic floor, or the area surrounding your rectum. If we live in a more posterior tilt / tucked under position, it is extremely difficult to find length in the back side.
Breathing in certain positions allows muscles on the back side to “let go,” so they can then be used through their full range of motion when strength training. If we can truly breathe down into our butt our deep hip muscles can lengthen. THEN they can fully contract while strength training to help you get stronger over time. Additionally, when we can relax through the backside, we are able to efficiently shift into our hips (accessing internal rotation), which helps with everyday movement, like walking.
Think, lengthen to strengthen.
Breathing Drills to Release the Posterior Pelvic Floor
- Take a bear style position against a wall, knees at 90, and hands “dragging” down the wall, turning lats on.
- Add a posterior tilt (tuck under of pelvis) and take a new breaths. Where do you feel pressure on your inhale? **you should feel pressure travel forwards to anterior (front) of pelvic floor.
- Untuck and pull down the wall: take an inhale. Envision your sits bones spreading apart. Where do you feel the pressure / air? Extra challenge: exhale and pull ribs back in space, but keep pelvis position. Pelvis stays open, but ribs come down and in (closing the front door). We are moving the pelvis without flaring out on the front side at the same time to make that happen.
Inverted Breathing / Puppy Pose
I love inverted for really feeling some release on the back side, and getting some posterior expansion (air into the space between your shoulder blades).
- Set up with your knees elevated (or not). You can use yoga blocks, a foam pad, or a low bench.
- Forearms on the ground, palms up or down. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- Watch for flaring in the ribcage. I like to initiate with an exhale to find a stacked position in the torso.
- Inhale and focus on gently breathing down into your body and making space between your sits bones.
- Soften the knees so they go over your mid-foot, and then send your booty back. Go as far back as you can without rounding your low back.
- Exhale ribs back in space while the sternum stays up.
- On the back side imagine you had a tail. Tail stays up versus glutes rounding underneath you.
- Take an inhale and breathe down into your body in this position.
- Take a split stance position, allowing your front knee to travel forward. Hone in on your rib position. Getting a neutral / stacked position isn’t about tucking the booty under, but about exhaling your ribs back in space. Free the tail!
- Hold the position while pulling the opposite hip forward to get extra length in the outside butt (hip external rotators). Watch for any hiking of the hip.
- Grab a band, TRX, or a door to hold onto.
- Hold at mid-range (90 degrees), and take an inhale. Where do you feel the air going? If you struggle to feel air traveling backwards, tune in to if you’re tucking under OR if you’re able to “free the tail” and find length in the glutes in the mid-range position.
- Hold the position and exhale the ribs back, but watch that you don’t your glutes under. Stay lengthened in the back side and inhale into that space.
How to Strengthen your Glutes
Now that you’ve been able to truly lengthen through the back side, we can strengthen the external rotators / glutes in a more lengthened position.
A few of my favorites for being able to do this are a split squat, single leg deadlifts, and a side plank position, among others 🙂 You can also incorporate dynamic movement with hop backs and a new favorite: single leg hinge against wall with rotation.
Below I include video demos for these movements, as well as talking knees over toes in a split squat, which also helps facilitate more glute work!
Dynamic Hop Backs
Split Squat + Rotation and Goblet Hold
Dynamic Single Leg Hinge against wall + rotation
Questions about lower body workouts or ways to get more glute strength? I’d love to chat and collaborate on a training plan for you.