Do you constantly feel your quads or knees when trying to target the glutes during exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, or hip thrusters?
If so, you are among the “quad dominant” group of people that are prevalent within our society. Don’t get me wrong, the quad muscles will work during the majority of our lower body exercises, but the key is for them to work “In Sync” with the glute muscles.
For example, on a squat, its very easy to initiate the movement through your knees, rather than your hips, which will make your quads fire up more than your glutes. See the video below common incorrect squat patterns, followed by a correct squat pattern.
Same thing applies when we are lunging. It’s easy to overuse our knee joint (which will overtrain the quads), and neglect the loading and driving through our hips (which will activate the glutes). See the video below on incorrect lunge patterns, followed by a correct lunge pattern.
Now that you’ve seen how to do the moves correctly, make sure you try to apply them. If you are still feeling the front of your legs/lower back when doing these movements, then tight hips might be to blame. If you sit a lot, then you most likely have very tight hip flexors, and that limits your ability to properly recruit your glute muscles. Also, if you’ve been working out for quite some time without feeling your glutes, you’ve most likely trained your quads and hips to take most of the work, and thus make them more and more overactive and tight through time.
If that’s the case, then there’s some flexibility and mobility exercises we can do to relax those overactive, tight muscles. Try this flow below…
After you’ve executed these it should be easier to start targeting the glute muscles, as the hip flexors will be more relaxed which will let your glutes have a better chance of firing up.
Since you’ve now assessed your lunge and squat pattern, and have addressed the tightness in your hips, it’s time to work on one more thing. You have to VISUALIZE and FOCUS on your glute muscles properly engaging. Most call this the “Mind-Muscle Connection” This might sound a little wacky to you, but in all honesty, focusing on muscle groups that you are targeting is a key aspect of exercise that a lot of people are missing.
For example, here is a glute bridge and monster walk superset which is one of my staple activation exercise flows for warming up the glute muscles. Put an emphasis on FOCUSING on the glute muscles as you do these…
Now, apply that same line of focus to your lunges and squats. Really understanding what muscles you are targeting during your workout is an extremely underestimated practice for most while exercising. Don’t just go through the motions. Don’t load up the weights if you aren’t feeling the glutes. Don’t continue to overtrain poor movement patterns. These WILL lead to discomfort and potential injury over time.
DO START practicing better movement patterns. DO START mobilizing your hip flexors. DO START activating your glutes before your more complex exercises. DO FOCUS on the glute muscles when executing these lower body exercises. THIS WILL lead to you building stronger, leaner, and more athletic physique and will decrease your risk of back, and or knee issues in the future.
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