Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bottom To Top: Dealing with the Aging Ass

The Butt or Gluteal region is often an indicator of aging. When a loss of muscle tissue is common with aging, it is glaringly apparent in the largest muscle group, the gluteus. There is no need to give an anatomy lesson here. The muscles you sit on get smaller when you stop lifting heavy things, stop squatting and don't practice moving quickly. The reduction in strength and size is often accompanied with a gain in fatty tissue. When you don't lift, squat or move, you burn less calories. Therefore the extra calories are stored as fat. The fat does not have a pleasing shape when it is not stretched over the surface of large, strong muscles. The above photograph is a vivid example.

The simple process of maintaining the ability to squat throughout life is a good method to ensure at least minimal gluteal development. If you cannot squat butt to ground, then you have some training to do. They are not bad for your knees. They are actually good for your knees. If you find the action of squatting flat footed nearly impossible, then you may need some instruction to regain this fundamental process. From that point, learning to squat with weight is the appropriate next step.

There are other exercises for strong, muscular glutes. Any type of squat, lunge, leg press, step up or hip extension drill will activate what is the largest and most visible muscle in the body.

Let us detail the idea of hip extension and how we can enjoy good results with a minimal of equipment. Many of you are already familiar with the GLUTE BRIDGE, which is common in many exercise classes and media.

Simply lay supine on the floor with the heels near the butt. Smoothly and slowly raise the hips by contracting the gluteus and not extending the back. You want to feel like you are pinching a quarter between your cheeks and producing two dimes and a nickel in change.  Then lower slowly to the ground. Some trainees like to maintain tension by not touching the ground till the end of the set. Others prefer singular hard contractions. Repeat until you reach the recommended level of exhaustion or fatigue. Always focus on the trend towards improvement workout to workout. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is an indication of insanity. 

The flaw in any body weight exclusive drill is making the exercise harder. That is why we need the stimulus of adding external weight. This has the benefit of adding strength, muscle size and bone density. Getting stronger is the most result producing component of fitness. 

Below is a photograph of Robin White performing 30 repetitions with just under 100 pounds on the barbell in her studio

She started with lighter weights, but as you see, the amount of repetitions has become ridiculously high and she will be adding more iron shortly. She has ordered an appropriate pad for the barbell since the pool noodle she was using has limited protective qualities. Robin has no doubts will be handling 180+ pounds for multiple sets in the Glute Bridge.  Her results have been outstanding. She has maintained a 36 inch hip measurement despite getting leaner. This is because of the hypertrophy of the glutes. She will continue to focus on size and strength over the next year. She has added a full inch to her gluteus region.
If the Glute Bridge has piqued your interest, there are other high performance exercises such as Hip Thruster. This requires a barbell of course and a padded bench that is locked in an immobile position to prevent sliding. Very heavy weights can be used to achieve maximum effect. Watch model Kellie Davis in this video.
Kelly is using a weight that would intimidate most men but is doing so under the watchful eyes of her trainer, Brett Contreras. The results speak for themselves.
The basic idea is to focus on result producing, heavy exercises such as squatting, dead lifting and any type of loaded hip extension movement. Beginning with Glute Bridges using just bodyweight is a good starting point for any one to avoid unhealthy aging.

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