During the off-season, I try different activities and think about how I might be able to use a few of these new exercises and drills with my players. Two years ago, I attended a “barre class” that used non-impact, small movement exercises to isolate individual muscle groups. One muscle group that these exercises had the most impact on was my glutes. After doing some of the exercises, I walked out of class feeling like I had just done 1,000 squats and lunges. Although the classes were predominantly filled with women trying to “firm and tone” their bodies (especially their backsides), I found that these exercises were great for activating the glutes before a lower body workout and/or when the glutes are inhibited. Since many of the exercises are performed while standing, they offer a unique alternative to those typically performed while lying on the ground. The following are five exercises that I have had success with. Do 1-2 sets of 15-20 reps on each leg. Start with one set and gradually build to 2 sets of each with perfect form. Do one set of the standing figure 4 stretch between each set of exercises and hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Straight Leg Raise
Set-Up. Stand facing a bar with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward. Place both hands on the bar with arms fully extended and bend forward at the waist until the back is flat. Retract the scapula, set the core, square up the hips and slightly bend both the support and non-support leg at the knee. This is your starting position.
Movement. Extend the non-support leg until it is parallel to the ground, point the toes (plantar flex the foot) and raise and lower the leg from the hip about two inches at a time in a “pulsing” movement for 15-20 reps and then switch legs.
20 Degrees Out and Raise
Set-Up. Same as the previous exercise.
Movement. Start by extending the non-support leg until it is parallel to the ground with the toes pointed (plantar flexed). Abduct the non-support leg 20 degrees (move leg away from hip), raise and lower the leg about 2 inches and return to the midline. This is one rep. Do 15-20 reps and switch legs.
Open Hip Leg Raise
Set-Up. Same as the previous exercise
Movement. Extend the non-support leg until it is parallel to the ground, point the toes, rotate the non-support leg outward about 90 degrees (open the hip) and raise and lower the leg from the hip about 2 inches at a time. Keep the non-support leg parallel to the ground and return the leg to the midline after each rep. Do 15-20 reps and switch legs.
Movement. Keeping a slight bend in the support leg, point the toes of the non-support leg, abduct the leg about 200 out away from the hip and extend the non-support leg backwards about 2 inches. Return to start and repeat in a pulsing movement for 15-20 reps. Switch legs and repeat.
Set-Up.Stand arms’- length away and facing the bar with feet shoulder-width apart and toes facing forward. Grab the bar with both hands and place the ankle of one leg just above the knee of the opposite leg. This is your starting position.
Movement. Keeping the trunk erect, set the core, drop the hip of the non-support leg until both hips are level and then bend the knee of the non-support leg to stretch the glutes on that side of the body. Hold for 20-30 seconds, return to start and repeat on the opposite leg..
Ed W. Yong, MS, CSCS
Spokane Indians – Texas Rangers