The Fitness Trail: Maximize your Maximus
Grand Lake, CO Colorado
The biggest muscle in your body the gluteus maximus extends and externally rotates the hips enabling us to move our bodies powerfully when walking, running, cross country skiing, triple jumping and rollerblading.
The maximus assists or works as a stabilizer when we sit, squat, lunge, jump and stand and, consequently, it is imperative to strengthen it regularly.
This week, we will feature three outstanding maximus exercises to add to your fitness program. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
For all three exercises, the head and neck are a natural extension of the spine, shoulders rotated back and down, rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine, pelvic floor muscles engaged and knees relaxed.
• Begin standing in front of a 4-12 inch bench or step. *When you choose the height of the bench, note your knee and spine limitations. You may want to utilize a lower bench height to address those issues even though the higher bench height will tend to be more effective at strengthening the maximus.
• Step onto the bench with the right foot, driving through the heel, facing forward, making certain that the entire foot is planted on the bench followed by the left foot.
• Then, step back down with the right foot first, toe, ball, heel followed by the left.
• Repeat this sequence slowly and controlled, 8 repetitions on the right lead and then 8 with the left.
• Perform this exercise 1-3 sets of eight repetitions, two-three non-consecutive days per week.
• Begin standing with the legs approximately shoulder distance apart.
• Step forward with the right foot, contacting the floor with the right heel, flexing about 90 degrees at the hip and knee joint.
• The trailing left leg will flex about 90 degrees at the knee joint with the left hip extended, left heel elevated throughout.
• As with all lunges, once you step forward-think down, rather than forward, making certain that the right knee remains over the right heel.
• Push through the right heel, driving the right leg back to the beginning position.
• Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions on each leg, two-three non-consecutive days/week.
*Once you have mastered the step ups and lunges, to increase intensity, you may add a weighted vest, shoulder/neck sandbag, barbell or hold dumbbells. Begin with light external resistance ensuring that you are safely performing the exercise experiencing no discomfort in the knees or spine.
Supine Hip Extension
• Begin lying supine (face up), on the floor with the knees facing the ceiling and the soles of your feet on the floor, legs approximately shoulder distance apart.
•Engaging the maximus, pulling the buttocks toward one another, driving through the heels, press the hips toward the ceiling, without hyperextending the lumbar spine.
• Think pubic bone to the ceiling and then lower the body (tailbone) toward the floor, without touching the floor (think a piece of paper between your buttocks and the floor).
• Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions, two-three non-consecutive days per week.
*Once you have mastered this exercise, to increase intensity, you may place a weighted bar or dumbbells on the front of the hips or you may perform from a BOSU Balance Trainer or stability ball. You may want to avoid external resistance when utilizing the stability ball.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net, her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.
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