How to Improve Glute Engagement During Prone Leg Lifts

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Do you struggle to connect with your glutes? Do you have flat butt syndrome or sometimes they call it mom butt? Basically it’s when your glutes sort of shut down and a lot of times your pelvic floor has compensated because your glutes aren’t firing as they should, or they’re clenched all the time. As I’ve said in other videos, when your glutes (or any muscle for that matter) clenches all the time and holds on for dear life it weakens because you don’t get that full lengthening and that full contraction that you need to have strong muscles.

One of the things I see very frequently is people using their hamstrings more than their glutes, and what happens when the hamstring fires first before the glutes is that it pushes the femur forward in the socket which can lead to hip impingement. So we want to make sure the glute is the first thing to fire and then maybe the hamstring will kind of pick up after the fact. This is a really great exercise to kind of give some tactile feedback and try to create that mind-body connection so you can test to see if your hamstring or glute is firing – we want it to be the glute! 

So come down onto your belly and you’re going to take your hands and just rest your head and turn to the side. Then take your hands and place them under the bony parts of your hip known as the asis – just a couple fingers is good! 

Your feet are hip width apart and you you should have little bit of space and hopefully you’re not sticking your butt way out and you don’t have that anterior tilt or clenching your butt. We just want to be in a relaxed position here so your hip bone should be pretty well close to contacting the mat. Now from here we’re going to scoop the belly open ( like we’re trying to get a piece of paper under there).  It does not affect the position of the pelvis, it helps kind of to solidify it. If you pull the belly up then you shouldn’t feel the pelvis moving in any way.  Now we’re going to scoop that belly up and in before we even begin.

See if you can’t just find that contraction of the glutes without any movement (it can be difficult i know!). For me i’m kind of starting to get the left glute in my body firing after surgery, pain can be one of those things that shuts muscles off. I had a labral tear so my left glute learned to not fire because it basically got scared when I felt pain when that glute fired so it decided, you know,  “we’re not coming to the party anymore!”. It’s a matter of retraining, so we scoop that belly up and then try to find that glute squeeze before we even start. 

From here we’re going to add on a little bit of movement, and  we’re trying to keep the same amount of pressure on those fingers. As you lift your leg and all of a sudden you’re like “oh i’m squeezing or pinching my fingers like crazy!” you’re getting your hamstring working first and that’s pushing your femur forward which is pushing your pelvis. So scoop the belly up and fire the glute then lift and try to maintain that same amount of space. If you go super high your pelvis is going to have to shift to get that leg off or to get that leg up. It doesn’t have to be super high, even try to get it just off an inch or two. See if you can maintain it without squishing the hand and then try the other side and you’ll find it’s helpful. Again, if you scoop the belly up and in, squeeze that butt and find a gentle lift. If you want you can use your hand to feel your glute heart. If you just lift up and it’s still pretty soft here your hamstrings are probably working a little bit more so again, that lifting and lowering is where you’ll notice just by that small movement.

Once you start to do it correctly you’ll actually feel when doing it and then hopefully your back muscles and those paraspinals aren’t over firing and overcompensating! Give that a little try – it’s pretty mind-blowing and it’s really hard when you first try to do it so don’t be surprised! I know when I first tried it took me quite some time to find a little groove but keep at it. Really try to find that mind body connection. That’s the only way to improve the form and to get those muscles firing as they should.

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