Want to Strengthen Glutes for Running? Here Are 3 Magical Exersises.Nov 16, 2023
If you are anything like me (and most runners) you’ve been given lateral band walks and clamshells at PT at some point in your running life. But is that the best way to strengthen glutes for running?
The first time I ever went to PT and did my band walk and clamshells, it actually helped a little, I’m not going to lie. At the time I was doing zero strength training to support my running. So something was better than nothing. But that was short-lived because it wasn’t connected to how the glutes are used (with the rest of the body) with running!
For a long time, I was stuck in this cycle of chasing one problem with my running only to create another. The clamshells made my knee feel a little better but then my low back became a problem… Until I started connecting the dots. Psst. That dot-connecting for the whole body is exactly what I’m going to do for you in The Runner’s Lab.
For today, let’s connect the dots with your glutes!
Here are the 3 Keys to Really Using your Glutes with Running:
1 - Load the Foot with True Pronation
What is happening at the foot is an integral part of what’s happening in the glutes. It’s all connected! True pronation is an action. It’s loading the foot (and the rest of the kinetic chain above) with internal rotation. This is how we put force into the ground.
Try these Heel Rocker Pronation Drills to practice loading that foot as you move into mid-stance.
2 - Load the Glutes Through Length with Internal Rotation
Through your stride, you need to be able to internally rotate to stay strong/stable through midstance (this means LENGTH in the backside) and you need external rotation and extension to propel you forward.
All too often we drive external rotation (clamshells, lateral band walks, etc.) and forget about internal rotation. You can’t effectively use external rotation if you can’t internally rotate first. In other words, you can’t effectively propel without loading. And if you can’t load it makes it harder for your body to handle ground reactive forces overall.
When it comes to “activating” your glutes so that you can use them with your running, it’s all about finding that length.
I usually start my runners here with the Step to Lateral Hip Shift.
Think knee over toes sternum over the knee (aka. organize your center of mass over your stance leg).
The cornerstone of most of my athletes' strength training plans practicing this skill is the Staggered Stance (or Kickstand) Hinge.
Keys 1 and 2 are important pieces to owning mid stance (aka. standing ON one leg)! Mid stance is where you put the most force into the ground. From there it's just follow through.
- center of mass is organized over the stance leg
- max pronation
- internal rotation at the pelvis, length in the glutes
- “offloading” the opposite side
3 - [From that Length] Practice Hip Extension BEFORE Knee Extension
While loading into mid-stance requires internal rotation (rotating towards that stance leg), moving from mid-stance to late stance requires external rotation (rotating away from that stance leg), and then an efficient toe-off requires hip extension before knee extension with big toe dorsiflexion.
When you extend (straighten) at the knee before you finish hip extension you limit your ability to extend through the hip, (aka. use your glute max), the motion then comes from the lower back and loads on the knee, AND you limit the power you can produce for forward motion. Use those glutes! Push with the tush and get the most effective back end of your stride.
My favorite way to practice this is through using Co-Contractions like this Co-Contraction to a Box.
Find that length and propel out of that length!
Again, all the parts are connected!
Join me virtually to gain a deeper understanding of that connection, the physics and physiology of running, and what that means for your body and your training in The Runners Lab and unlock your full running potential.
Click here to learn more and register now!
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