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Part 1: Being Bootilicious – The Deadlift

So over the next week or so I’m going to write a series of posts focusing on the butt.

It is one of the biggest, most powerful muscles and also one of the most underactive.

Over the next few posts, I will discuss how to activate this amazing muscle and make it perky and perfect!

Of course while it would be logical to start with warm up/activation movements, I’m going to instead start with my favorite posterior move – the deadlift.

So the deadlift is hands down my favorite exercise. If I could only do one move the rest of my life, it would be the deadlift.

Why do I like the deadlift?

For one, it is super empowering. It feels so great to be able to lift a huge weight successfully off the ground.

Two, it is a full body move that really works the entire posterior of your body (back, butt, hamstrings….).

And three, there are a bazillion different variations that are just so beneficial and really get your butt activated, and honestly all too often people’s glutes really aren’t firing!

It is the perfect move to really build glute strength and power!

And when I got the honor of designing the workout progression for our gym for the next three weeks, I made sure to use it. My progression is very leg intensive and very very focused on improving people’s posture and getting the right muscles activated.

I was proud today to find out that everyone has most definitely been feeling the workouts working. While I never want to push people too far, I do like to hear that their butt cheeks are sore because it is very very hard usually to get people to really activate their glutes and use their butt (many people are quad dominate, which can lead to issues).

So if people’s butts are sore then they must be activated!

How did we get people’s glutes firing and start building some butt strength!?!

Through variations of the deadlift! DUH!!!

And not every variation even needs to be weighted down!

Of course you have the traditional deadlift, which is a great posterior exercise since it hits everything from behind your shoulder blades down to your heels.

However, this move isn’t always the best place to start since many people have limited range of motion in their hips and bad posture. If you can’t get your butt low and keep your shoulder blades down (chest pressed out), then you are at risk for a hurt low back.

So one of my favorite deadlift variations, especially to start with, is the single-leg deadlift. It works on balance, posture AND your glutes and hamstrings.

You don’t need weight to make this move challenging AND it is perfect for the beginner or the advanced lifter!

For the beginner it will really work on balance and posture while starting to get the glutes activated. Make sure they keep their back flat as they hinge over. Make sure their hips don’t rotate open. This will teach them good posture when they move to using weights.

For the advanced lifter, you can weight down this move, which will build more strength in the glutes. This version of the deadlift really forces them to really engage their core AND it forces them to use each leg independently. When we isolate each leg, we make each leg work independently, which can prevent the dominate leg from always taking over and perpetuating imbalances.

I like weighting the move down with a kb in the opposite hand from the leg working.

I like weighting the move down with a kb in the opposite hand from the leg working…P.S. This isn’t a fun move to hold for a picture!

So then another great deadlift move to use is the straight leg deadlift.

I usually use this move before I move to full deadlifts since it doesn’t require as much hip mobility BUT starts to teach people to keep the correct upper body posture while adding more weight. (It is also just a great way to add variation to your glute workouts!)

So with this move, knees are only slightly bent. It is a hinge from the hips with the back staying nice and flat as you hinge over toward the ground pushing your butt backwards toward the wall behind you.

Watch when people do this move. The key here is to make sure they are pushing their butt BACKWARDS.

Seriously a great way to work the glutes and hamstrings while starting to add weight! Since balance isn’t an issue it can be an easier way to start adding heavier weight!

Probably my FAVORITE deadlift variation because you can use heavy weight is the sumo deadlift. It is a great way to start really building glute strength and start pulling heavy weight.

So in this variation of the deadlift, your feet are wide apart and your toes are turned slightly outward (by turning your toes out a bit you engage your glutes a bit more). This variation of the deadlift is MORE leg intensive than the traditional deadlift so is ideal for butt building!

Using this move you can really start to develop maximal strength since it is easy to use heavy weights. However, before the person can add heavy weights, they must maintain good posture – aka their chest must stay up and their back can’t round.

The sumo deadlift can be harder on the hips though so don’t over do it! Rotate it with the regular deadlift to make sure you blast the butt from a couple of different angles and to give your hips a bit of a break.

So…if you want to get the butt firing and build some serious glute strength, use a variation of the deadlift.

Looking to work on balance, core strength and posture while targeting the glutes? Use the single leg!

Looking to add more weight while really focusing on the glutes and hamstrings? Use the straight leg!

Looking to build maximum strength in the butt cheeks? Try the sumo deadlift!

Mix it up and target those glutes!

Which variation is your favorite?

Coming soon to the Bootilicious series….glute warm up exercises, glute bridges and multiplanar lunges!

Baby Got Back

So the other night I was talking to one of my male clients who I was making do some clams (the exercise where you have a band around your knees and lay on your side and externally rotate at your hips and knees).

So all some great glute activation moves!

It was a stabilization workout and he really needs work on activating his glutes. And although clams may be a Jane Fonda move, they are a great way to get those butt cheeks firing!

Of course he was slightly embarrassed by doing them even though it was just his wife, me and his 19 month old daughter there.

He says to me, “You know this is one of those moves that guys AVOID doing at the gym.”

I said, “Yea I know….Ever notice how many guys have SMALL INACTIVE butts?”

He laughed and repeated what I said and continued to do the clams.

Out of the corner of my eye though I saw his wife shaking her head in agreement.

What I said is completely and utterly true. Most people, especially men, don’t focus on getting glutes that activate.

They are much more interested in working on their beach muscles. Although they do pride themselves on being able to lift heavy weights.

But if they took the time to do some of those “embarrassing” glute activation exercises like band walks, glute bridges, clams and straight leg deadlifts they would be able to LIFT MORE.

AND they would look better. (Sorry but pants that sag because you have no butt is not attractive).

Plus they would also probably suffer few injuries. Active glutes me proper movement patterns!

So to anyone out there who skips those “embarrassing” butt exercises, but wants to lift heavy…Don’t.

That includes you ladies. While lifting heavy is essential that doesn’t mean totally leaving out the Jane Fonda moves…It just means not ONLY doing them!

For more on glute activation, check out this article on T Nation! LOVE IT!

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