For at least the last decade many physical therapists, trainers and exercise physiologists have spoken about the importance of our gluteal muscles and why we should strengthen them. More specifically many like to refer to the importance of developing a stronger gluteus maximus to help with injury prevention regarding lower back and hamstring pain. As well as helping us look good in a pair of jeans, the gluteus maximus muscle is an important muscle to develop because it is corner stone of our physical health.
So how do you develop this muscle you ask? There are a number of exercises which can be used, and, depending on your age and fitness levels. Some exercises may or may not be suitable for you. Typical glute development exercises usually involve spending some time with equipment in the gym such as squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, lunges or hip thrusts.
However, what if you don’t have access to the gym? How can we go about developing this muscle and make it stronger progressively? If you are still between the ages of 20 and 50 then sprinting may possibly be one of the most effective methods for gluteal development!
Sprinting involves forceful hip extension with every step and, as the glutes are heavily involved in hip extension, it becomes extremely active during this activity. It can be said that sprinting may even be more effective than deadlifting and squatting for overall glute development because the action requires one to go into hip hyperextension (your leg moving past your body’s midline), therefore requiring more glute fibers to be recruited. Squatting or deadlifting comparatively will recruit less glute muscle fibres because the hips never go through hyper extension during the movement. (If you are then maybe you are doing the exercise incorrectly!)
So what is a good sprint workout and how can you get started? The first thing we need to know about sprinting is that it’s an exercise that places a lot of stress on our muscles. The first thing you will need is a good pair of runners and a safe open area with a flat surface to run on. Grass is a great surface to sprint on because it provides more cushioning for your body. Make sure to bring plenty of water during the workout and ensure you warm up properly before you start. Warming up can involve doing stretching or a few light striders with gradually increasing speeds to start off and, depending on how you feel, may go as long as 15-30 minutes. You may choose to go longer if you feel you are not ready yet.
After you have completed all the steps above, you are now ready to sprint! A possible sprint workout can involve sprinting 40-80 meters 8 times with about 3 to 5minutes recovery in between each repetition. The goal of each sprint is to ensure that you are running close to your maximal speed with each repetition with an emphasis on “intensity” and it is the relative intensity of the workout produced that allows greatest glute growth. If you are running longer than 100meters and only giving yourself 10 seconds rest between each repetition or feeling too tired between each rep than the workout intensity has most likely dropped has shifted to an endurance workout and has no effect on muscular strength.
I hope you have all learnt something to today and happy sprinting!
(Note: The information below is for educational purposes only! Please consult a health professional to ensure individual safety and suitability for high intensity exercise.)
By Henry Au-Yeung- Elite Myotherapist