In the Press
My clients are always looking for ways to get a more toned, uplifted butt. Women in particular are prone to gaining weight in their hips and thighs and need to work extra hard to develop musculature in that area. Another challenge is the gravitational downward pull that happens to us all!
The glutes are the most under-trained muscles in most exercise programs—including Pilates. Though classical Pilates offers astounding benefits for the entire body, mind and spirit, we all can benefit by incorporating more glute work into our Pilates programs.
A complete training routine needs to target the hamstrings, gluteus minimus, medius, maximus and the six deep external rotators. Not only will these muscles help you look better in your jeans, they also have an important role in the gait cycle, as well as in stability and balance, which is especially important to the aging population.
Other benefits of training these muscles include improved posture, injury prevention, less back pain and, overall, a better functioning body. It can also translate into enhanced athletic function during activities, including walking, running, hiking, rock climbing, dancing, golfing and playing tennis.
There are a few common misconceptions about how to train your glutes. Many magazine articles typically offer the same moves: squats and lunges. These are excellent exercises that have their place; however, they are mostly quad dominant and put tremendous strain on the knee joint. My Reformer program emphasizes the glutes and hamstrings with no quad effort, while also minimizing pressure on the knee joint. The exercises also include hip extension and external rotation, which help give you a dancer-like bottom.
Balance is one of Joseph Pilates’s six principles, and to balance the strength we gain from a conditioning program, it is equally important to incorporate stretching. For instance, it’s difficult to develop the gluteals if your hip flexor muscles are tight. The same applies to tight gluteals, which will cause the lower back to do most of the work, leading to lower-back pain, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, sciatica and piriformis syndrome. For this reason, I recommend incorporating specific stretches for the glutes and their opposing muscles (e.g. Figure-Four Supine and Pigeon).