There’s a huge advantage to having a garage gym. If I get bored, I walk into my garage and start looking around, trying to think of new things. In case you didn’t see it, last week I came up with a good idea to make people go all the way to the ground when performing single leg hip thrusts in order to ensure full range of motion and stress muscular starting strength rather than elastic reactive strength. Here is a video showing the new technique. Most folks would be using two benches for this variation.
Bottom-Up Single Leg Hip Thrust
That was last week, now onto this week. One thing that’s been bothering me lately is the hip rotation exercise I came up with last year. A recent glute study I performed indicates that it leads to more glute activation than heavy squats, deadlifts, and/or hip thrusts! But something Mike Boyle said a while back kept resonating with me. He said something along the lines of, “If it doesn’t look athletic, it’s probably not athletic.”
In the past, when creating many of my glute exercises I wasn’t thinking of the sport-specific population. Rather, I was thinking of the figure and bodybuilding population. My goal was simply to maximize glute activation regardless of what the exercise looked like, not to maximize positive transfer over to sporting actions. For this reason, I often externally rotate my hips when performing back extensions; it leads to increased glute activity. However, this could interfere with running mechanics so for sporting purposes it would be wise to keep the hips in neutral and the feet straight ahead during back extensions to increase lateral hamstring activity and more closely mimic the dynamics of running.
When thinking up a hip rotation exercise last year, I simply played around with my foot stance and the direction of the band resistance to allow the gluteus maximus to contract as hard as possible in a rotational setting. However, the exercise never looked very athletic.
Tonight I went out to the garage and tinkered around with my form, trying to use what I knew about some of the popular stances in sport-specific training; tall kneeling, half-kneeling, standing parallel stance, standing split stance, etc. I tried out the standing split stance and found that it works really well with the band and cable hip rotation. I used to call the exercise “hip external rotations” but really one hip is externally rotating while the other is internally rotating so from now on I’m going to call them “hip rotations.” These exercises are amazing glute exercises in terms of glute activation. In fact, you can get your glute activation up higher with this exercise than in any other exercise out there if you learn how to do it properly. We often think that hip extension is king for the glutes but give this variation a try for a month or so and see if it might change your mind. Luckily, these variations “look athletic” and will transfer very well to sports. Specifically, the exercises teach rotational stabilization in the lumbar spine while the hips and thoracic spine rotate. This will lead to improved power output in rotational activities such as swinging a bat, racquet, club, etc., as well as throwing a punch, football, baseball, javelin, etc. You really want to teach the glutes to maximize their contribution during rotational actions. Most coaches will say “it’s all about the hips” when referring to striking, swinging, or throwing. This exercise can increase the contribution of the hips while allowing for a stable lumbar spine during sport activities.
Here are two variations; band and cable hip rotations. Personally I like the band version more but I am very strong in the glutes. Bands may not be practical for beginners. The band version works the end-range of the movement better, while the cable version works the initial-range of the movement better. It’s hard to tell but the glute of my rear leg is absolutely on fire during these movements. It may look like an oblique exercise (it certainly works the obliques really hard as there is stable transfer through the core) but if you do it right it’s a glute exercise.
Band Hip Rotation
Cable Hip Rotation
Next, I looked at my incline bench and came up with a great idea. I realized that I could take the seat off and convert it into a nifty glute apparatus. Some individuals have access to incline presses where the seat can be removed so this variation may be something those folks are interested in trying. Some might say, “Why not just do them off of the floor?” The floor limits range of motion. Just like any other exercise, when you increase the ROM you make it much more difficult.
Single Leg Hip Thrust off Incline Bench
Then it occurred to me that I could use a band and perform a bilateral hip thrust against band resistance.
***Warning: If you belong to a commercial gym, I don’t think you should try to pull this off in that setting. In fact, don’t be surprised if something like this happens if you try to occupy the incline press by performing humping motions rather than working the pecs at a commercial gym.
Consider yourself forewarned. Anyway, here is a video showing this technique.
Band Hip Thrust off Incline Bench
The last thing I thought of was something that I recently heard Mike Boyle talking about during one of his staff meetings (lately he’s been posting clips from his staff meetings on his website). When discussing core stabilization, he said, “You want a straight line between the shoulders and the knees.” When most individuals perform ab wheel rollouts, they bend at the hips and use too much range of motion which interferes with glute contribution and takes tension off of the core during the top of the movement (the standard way allows for built-in intra-set rest periods between reps). If you are strong enough, perform ab wheel rollouts in the manner shown in the video below. Basically, you shorten the range of motion and keep the glutes fired throughout the duration of the set. This is beneficial for a couple of different reasons:
1. It helps keep a stable core which prevents the low back from extending
2. It slightly posteriorly rotates the hips which decreases hip flexor contribution and increases abdominal contribution.
Here’s the video:
Ab Wheel Rollout With no Hip Bending
That’s all for now! Hope you enjoy the new ideas.