A strong butt supports the rest of your body.
Sitting at a desk all day is a pain in the butt—literally. Though you may be hard at work, your glute muscles aren’t working at all, and over time, they become weaker and elongated. In turn, the body “turns off” the glutes and begins relying on stronger muscles nearby—like those in your lower back and surrounding your knees—to pick up the slack. The bad news is that the extra stress on these body parts makes them more susceptible to injury.
To help you ward off knee and back pain, learning to activate, or “wake up” your glute muscles is key.
And this quick routine can help you do just that! All you need is a stability ball (like a 65 cm Trideer anti-burst stability ball, $22, amazon.com) and just a couple of spare minutes. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, and incorporate them into your workout routine two to three times a week.
Start on your back and bring both feet on top of your stability ball, hip-distance apart.
Press your arms into the ground at your sides to stay balanced and stable as you lift your backside up and off the floor.
Keeping your pelvis stable, float one leg up into a tabletop position. Now, with your core pulled in, switch to the other side at your own speed. Repeat.
Still lying on your back with your feet on the ball, bring your heels together and turn your toes out.
Press your arms and feet down as you lift your backside up and engage your glute muscles. Hold here for a few seconds, and then press your legs out long in front of you without letting your heels pop apart or your backside drop.
Use your hamstrings and glutes to pull the ball back in towards you without losing your form. Keep your arms extended and flat on the mat. This helps stabilize the pelvis, so you don’t tense your neck or shoulders as you perform the exercise. (If your shoulders are tight, do this 4-minute stretch routine.)
Single Leg Footwork
Bring your legs into a parallel position on the ball and place the heels hip-distance apart, keeping the knees bent.
Lift your backside up and off the floor. Carefully, without dropping your pelvis, lift one leg up into a tabletop position.
Maintaining your form and alignment, push the ball away from you with your one leg, then pull it back into your start position. Keep your pelvis stable and lifted the whole time. Repeat on the other leg.