I have had many people come through my training programs over the past seven years, and at the beginning of every program people always have trouble with the same two things:
- Poor balance
- Lack of gluteal activity (your butt muscles don’t work)
As a young trainer back in 2010, I always followed the standard ways of “firing up” someone’s glutes using bridges, single legs squats, etc. The problem was that the results would not last, and we always had to go back to re-educate the glutes so they would fire again. Consequently, my clients would get the glutes working again but it would take months longer to achieve the results we got in the beginning. This particular issue made me curious about why this occurs after hundreds of repetitions, and I sought out the answer.
That’s when I found out about Brain Based Training from a company called Z-Health Performance.
After investing a lot of time with this company that is based in neuroscience, I learned more about the brain and body than ever before. I learned that the nervous system is king, and it determines our quality of movement. You brain takes in information, interprets the information, and gives an action signal. The key here is that the quality of the information that goes to the brain determines the quality of information that the brain gives back the body.
We will only focus on the vestibular system in this particular article, so we don’t get too in-depth on neuro anatomy.
The vestibular system is mainly responsible for telling our brain which way our heads are moving. For many of you that work in a seated position all day and don’t move your head enough, your vestibular system isn’t challenged and is now sending less quality information to your brain to process on head and body movement. Addressing this lack of stimulation is the KEY to firing up those glutes and keeping them that way!
Let’s dig just a bit deeper.
There are highways of nerves that are constantly sending information from the body to the brain and back that are known as vestibulospinal tracts. These tracts receive information from your vestibular system and project a constant signal into your glutes. This signal constantly fires for the safety of your brain. For example, in the case that you trip and begin to fall, your glutes can help to bring you upright via hip extension, thus saving you from a head injury.
The strength of this signal from your brain to your glutes is dependent on how much you move your head. So now that you understand what is happening here, let me give you a simple routine to practice daily.
Step 1: Find a target to fix your eyes on that isn’t right in front of your face, but not too far either. Ideally you would just pick a point on a wall across the room.
Step 2: Keeping your eyes locked on that target, move your head left and right, but don’t take your eyes off the target! You can experiment with moving your head up down, left and right, and see which movement makes your glutes the strongest.
Step 3: Immediately following your head movements, lay down on the ground and perform a glute bridge for 10 slow repetitions. Check out this photo of a glute bridge here.
Step 4: Repeat this process until fatigue sets in (about 3-4 sets).
Do this daily, feel and see the results!
If you are a more advanced in your fitness journey try this between your sets of loaded squats or lunges, and of course feel free to email me directly with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.