The question of how to use the glutes more during a sprint or vertical jump is paralyzing. It insinuates that some conscious thought or training strategy directly and immediately alters how the body functions during explosive movement.
But we know thought kills speed. And we know that, for starters, it’s simply about driving to your house over and over and over and over. (This is an analogy for doing something for so long that your body instinctively remembers how to do it. In other words, you don’t think about how to squat after a few months of squatting. You just get under the bar and make it happen.) The trick, however, is finding the right house. Every movement is unique. Every movement has it’s own “house.”
Repatterning the glutes to increase their use in explosive movements starts basic, with traditional low intensity activation exercises such as prone leg lifts and hip bridges. Most people “know” this, so they start their workout with these exercises during the warm-up. But because these exercises are relatively “easy” and kind of boring, it’s easy to just “go through the motions.”
Instead, do this:
1. START BASIC…
Yes, the bird dog is “too complex” for me.
But the goal is to get the glute in gear, not better some random yoga pose.
Use an isometric contraction at the finished, or “top,” position because no matter how slow of a tempo I prescribe, you probably won’t abide by it.
Don’t worry. No many people (including myself) adhere to tempos. It’s too much thinking. It’s much easier to lift, hold for five seconds, and then lower.
Do this exercise everyday for fifty to one hundred repetitions (spread through out the day) for starters. If this seems like a lot of work, that’s because it is.
Changing processes and functions in the body is never easy. Really, you don’t want it to be easy. If humans adapted on a whim, we wouldn’t survive that long.
2. ADD MORE…
…moving parts. Since most movement is upright, I like transitioning into standing exercises from here on out. The go-to for standing hip extension, in my opinion, is the romanian deadlift movement pattern (also known as the “hinge” movement pattern).
For simplicity, work isometric contractions at both the start and finished positions. I use something called the fundamental tip toe position, which is essentially doing a calf raise and contracting your glutes. Hold this for time — one minute is a good starting point.
The opposite end is finding a way to squeeze your glutes in the bottom position. If you have a friend, it’s probably best if they punch you in the buttcheek every five seconds while you’re down there. Again, one minute is good for a set.
Spread four of five sets of both of these through out the day.
3. BRIDGE THE GAP…
…between the fundamental tip toe position and glute beating position, making it smooth motion. This, my friends, is what it feels like to “hinge.”
If your glutes aren’t warm after ten repetitions, be worried. If they aren’t on fire after twenty-five, you’ve done something wrong. That “something” is probably an inability to keep tension on the glutes through out the range of motion. It’s going to sound weird, but you want to “grind” your glutes as you push your hips back during the romanian deadlift motion.
Think about the feel you get when you lower a weight slowly during barbell curls, maintaining a contraction in the muscle as it lengthens. This is “grind.” Finding the “grind” is tough with the hips and the hinge, so you have to work on it.
4. ADD SOME KIND OF LOADING…
…to the movement once you get the grind sorted out. Be sure to keep it slow for now. Regular old romanian deadlifts with a barbell or dumbbells are viable options. The barbell makes it a bit more difficult. Your movement is restricted by the barbell hitting your legs, but you’re going to have to get used to it anyways, so it might as well be now.
5. ADD A LITTLE SPEED…
…with something like kettlebell swings or perhaps hang cleans. Use a manageable weight.
6. ADD MORE MOVING PARTS WITH A LITTLE SPEED…
…by doing something like a lower load power clean. The power clean in itself isn’t a necessary transition, but it’s slow enough (even though it’s pretty fast) to have some control over, meaning you can “feel” things going on during the movement. This is in contrast to a vertical or broad jump, where things happen too fast to have conscious control over.
7. HOPE FOR THE BEST.
Heavier power cleans, vertical jumps, sprints, and other similar exercises will depend on the work done above. You won’t have time to “feel” or “think” during them. Instincts take over.
But if you follow the progression above — or at least extrapolate the principles — you’ll probably end up driving to the right house on a consistent basis. Just know that it takes a lot of time to get there, and you shouldn’t rush the process.
HOW THIS SEQUENCING CHANGED MY LIFE
The above process was fine tuned after my “dark years,” which was when I was stricken with debilitating knee pain. Over time, I failed on enough programs and false claims that I finally clawed my way out with my own developmental framework. During the year of experimentation, I learned a lot about movement, but specifically how movement relates to athleticism.
In short, I found out how to create a foundation for athletic movement. This sequence above is the shell of that foundation. It single handedly changed my future. I was entering into a depressive state after being debilitated with chronic knee pain.
A little while ago, I was asked to share my view on fundamental athletic movement as apart of a larger project, Muscle Imbalances Revealed. So for the past month, I worked hard to create a worthwhile presentation and awesome supplementary videos for this product. I’m proud to say that it’s finally available for purchase.
If you have any interest in athletic framework and glute programming example above, you will love my contribution to the Muscle Imbalanced Revealed project. It’s an informal walk-through of my perception of athletic movment and what it takes to form an awesome foundation for future high level skills.
Since you’re an awesome reader of mine, you have access to the early release. And the best part is that if you pull the trigger before Friday, August 10th, you will also get access to a free coaching call that myself and the other contributors will be apart of.
So it’s definately worth checking out. And be sure to get it now under this early screening before access the bonus coaching call ends.
I’ll be back in a few days to give a little bit more information about just what I did for the product.
But I’m happy that I can share this information as it was so instrumental in my personal adventure and turning my life, health, and athleticism around.
Here’s the link one more time. I hope you will check it out.
I’ve done enough talking. How would YOU incorporate this information into fixing up a barbell row? Increasing athleticism? Powering a squat from the glutes?
photo credit: Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games