For Best Results: Squeeze the Cheeks


Here's a quick Trainer Tip for you:  to get the most out of your exercises, keep the butt squeeze.

Today's tip comes from a lesson often revisited as both a trainer and a 'trainee': Keep the tension in the butt muscles in BOTH directions.

What does THAT mean, you might ask??

It means that to make exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, push ups, planks, glute bridges and hip bridges (plus a mess of other exercises) MORE effective and even safer for our hips and backs, we need to keep our glutes/po-po's/butts squeezed tight when we're lifting AND lowering.

It's super common, especially when we're either just starting out OR when we're tired and not fully focused on what we're doing, to squeeze the glutes in one direction of the movement and totally let them go slack, or 'on vacation' as I say with clients, in the other direction.

Example: The glute bridging movement.

Usually, we think of squeezing the glutes to raise the hips off the floor, but then 'drop' the tension on the way back down, and pretty much just melt back into the floor before regrouping the squeeze in our butts for the next rep.

Kettlebell-Weighted Glute Bridges

Bench Hip Thrusts

BUT, yes pun intended, what's WAY more effective--and nicer to our spines--is to KEEP the squeeze in the butt on the lowering part of the exercise, so that when our pelvis meets the floor again it 'kisses' the floor rather than smushing back into it with basically no muscle control.

Another example: The squat.

We are totally used to having to use our glutes to stand up, but many of us forget to keep it tight on the way down. Know what pays when we 'drop' into a squat? Our low backs. And if you add a significant load to that (eg: heavy barbell), bad things can happen--beyond simple failure to move the weight.

Dumbbell Front Squats

Kettlebell Front Squats

BUT if you lower slowly with tons of squeezing (tension) in your glutes, you're more likely to have a really nice and successful squat and much less likely to jack yourself up.

A third example: The push up.

What?? An 'upper body' exercise?? Yep. One of the best ways to stabilize your spine and execute a solid push up is to, you got it: squeeze the glutes. HARD--as in as tight as you can. It'll spare your back and make your push ups that much easier. REALLY!

Push Up-Shoulder Tap Combo

And more examples:  The single leg deadlift and kickstand deadlift

Try it all out for yourself!

See how exercises/movements feel when you're just going through the motions with muscles 'hanging out on vacation' (as in WAY too relaxed) vs. how it feels when you really put some focus on keeping the glutes tight in BOTH directions.

It's a simple change that can make your workouts more effective, safer, and that much more interesting--because when you're concentrating hard on how much you can feel you butt working, you don't have time to be bored!

So remember to keep it TIGHT in both directions to get the most bang for your buck 🙂


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