Glute/Hamstring Activation

Glute/Hamstring Activation
-Kurt “Princess” Janke

So you find that you are quadding out all your squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and basically every hip extension movement in the book. Now what? How do you correct this?

Mobilize: Get yourelf on a foam roller, lacross ball, hard pointy object, and start releasing your tight tissues. Overuse of your quads leaves them tight and wound up with adhesions which can prevent your posterior chain from even being activated. Foam rolling should be done with a purpose. It should not be a relaxing massage; rather, it should be one of the worst things you do every day. Make it hurt (in a good, CrossFit kind of way. If you have shooting nerve pain, numbness, or tingling, stop and move to a different spot). This myofacial release session should take about 4 minutes per quad. Hit the inside of your leg for at least a minute, hit the front, hit the outside, and then hit the IT Band and TFL(http://www.rad.washington.edu/academics/academic-sections/msk/muscle-atlas/lower-body/tensor-fascia-lata/atlasImage).

Propriocize: Proprioception is your own awareness of your body. If you don’t know how to turn on a muscle group, you cannot train it. If you are trying to squeeze your glute and it won’t fire, try poking it with your fingers. Get in there, nice a deep like, and turn that sucker on! The stimulation from the prodding will send signals to your brain to fire that muscle. This will help you rewire your body to start getting it to fire. Do simple movements like hip extensions while poking your glutes and hamstrings along side these movements to get yourself rewired.

As you get stronger, you can start incorporating Glute Ham Raises. Something else to consider is that you are only in the gym for maybe an hour to an hour and a half every day. Try to get yourself firing your glutes in every day tasks while at work, the store, brushing your teeth, etc. While standing, try squeezing your glutes as hard as you can and see how long you can hold it. While you walk, get your glutes to pull you through your stride. It will take a constant effort to rewire your body, so get started now!

Hypertrophize: Hypertrophy is the antonym of atrophy. It means to build muscle. If you have weak glutes and hamstrings, you most likely have a small butt and small back of the legs, with a nice set of beefy quads. Start doing exercises like Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squats and Glute Ham Raises. Perform 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps at first. When you get stronger, start bringing your reps up to the 10-12 range. After that, increase your number of sets to 5-6. The most important thing to remember is to use the glutes and hamstrings, NOT your back and quads. In the Bulgarian Split Squat, keep the knee and hip directly in line over the big toe, drive all your weight through the front heel, with your shin perfectly vertical. Use the back foot only for balance; do not put any weight on it. Get some big a$$ets!

Prioritize: Make the mechanics and execution of your movements your priority, not your time. Who cares if you got a really fast time on a workout if you did it ugly or wrong? If you continue to only focus on the competitive side of CrossFit, you are just asking for overuse injuries, muscle imbalances, and strength plateaus. Make your long-term health and fitness your priority. When you’re 20 years older, are you really going to care what your Fran time was when you have horrible knee pain and a bulging disk? Or will you just be wishing you spent the time to fix your imbalances? It’s fun to go fast, but only after you’ve earned it!

So the next time any of the coaches let’s you know that you are quadding out your movements, refer back to this page and use it as a starting point. This won’t fix everyone’s issues, but it can help out quite a bit. Start exploring online, google search “Glute Activation” and start educating yourself. But most importantly, START DOING SOMETHING! Don’t wait until you’re injured, because then I’ll just get to say, “I told you so.”