Want to become a better runner? Well, one of the most commonly known (and obvious!) tactics is to pound the pavement until you reach pro-status. But, aside from putting in the practice by logging all the miles, there is another way to amp up your routine: build up your booty via some glutes-focused exercises. Yes, seriously.
Your butt may not seem too important when it comes to being a running all-star—it’s your legs that do all the work, right? Well, yes—they’re what gets you from point A to point B. But it’s your behind that actually keeps everything flowing properly. “The gluteal [butt] muscles are the strongest and most powerful muscles in the entire body,” exercise physiologist Ashley Fluger tells Self. “They include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, and they all work together to help stabilize your pelvis and keep your hips and knees aligned.” Your butt doesn’t just keep everything aligned while you’re legs are carrying you, though. According to physical therapist David Reavy, it also plays a big role in “absorbing and transmitting forces from the impact of landing and pushing off with each stride.”
“The gluteal [butt] muscles are the strongest and most powerful muscles in the entire body. They all work together to help stabilize your pelvis and keep your hips and knees aligned.” —Ashley Fluger, exercise physiologist
This means your booty does far more than simply come along for the ride. So, before your jog, Fluger says to consider doing some pre-run activation exercises to wake up your gluteus medius through gentle, low-intensity movements that won’t tire you out. And the four to start with? Single-leg glutes bridges, side-lying clamshells, lateral band walks with a resistance band around your ankles, and monster walks with a resistance band around your hips.
The key is to do each exercise until your muscles really start to burn. (In the case of the monster walks, the expert just recommends 30 seconds on each side.) After you’re done, that extra TLC will allow you to start your run with a fired-up behind that’s fully activated and ready to fuel you during your workout—and make your peach perkier in the process. It’s a win-win.
Speaking of booty work, this is the exercise Adriana Lima can’t get enough of. Or, try Shakira’s six favorite moves.
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