Well rounded with rounded glutes

What separates human gait and posture from our primate relatives and other animals ? The answer is behind you…or rather your own behind. The Gluteals or the Glutes  (Gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus) as they are commonly called consists of three muscles located on the backside of the hip/pelvic area. They are generally, as a group among the largest & strongest muscles of the body and play a major role in speed, posture, flexibility, power and sexual attraction. They glutes have three functions to extend the upper leg, abduct the upper leg and extend the hip. Due to their location in the body they often serve as a connector between the continuous sheath of muscles known as the posterior chain. The posterior chain (PC) is a continuous sheet of muscle via  connective tissue consisting of all of the muscles on the rear of your body from the calf muscles to the back of your legs, the glutes, lats, muscles of the upper back, rear neck muscles and rear skull muscles, and muscles located on the top of the skull and face.  I used to tell my clients that it is like the sheets you wrapped around your head when we were playing as children, except that it is underneath the skin and attached to bone (this is sometime referred to as a kinetic chain).

Posterior-chain

When things that are connected are weak in one segment there is some effect on other part of the chain. As in the case of us as kids running around with the sheet or towel wrapped on our heads, when our siblings grabbed the towel or stepped on the sheet what happened? Our heads and shoulder went back and sometimes we stood up on our toes (a reflex to round the back to reduce pressure on the vertebrae). Now if we imagine ourselves as adults with the same sheet, imagine that sheet while sitting on the subway, the office, standing in a retail store or driving. Our PC is like a band-it has a certain amount of stretch and tightness. Over time this rubber sheet would become over stretched in the portion over our back, neck and head, right? Our posture would cause our back to round and overstretch this sheet.

What does that have to do with our primate cousins and our behinds?  If you look at a chimp for example, they tend to walk on all fours (although they can stand and walk on two legs briefly). Their walking gait actually looks similar to our posture while sitting and slumping- the back is rounded, and their pelvis tucked.

chimpwalk

Consequently they have relatively weak and small glutes.

chimpbutt

Humans evolved large glutes in part to stand and walk on two legs, which also they play the most important role in walking forward, upstairs, certain swimming techniques, running, etc. In addition they stabilize and mobilize the lower body and the spinal column.

Glute-Series

If you were to place the pelvic bones of apes, monkeys, deer, and other quadruped animals on a table they would be flat  and elongated in appearance with only a few prominent features. A human pelvis however would be raised in multiple angles. The upper, fan shaped portion would have a S-shaped, wavy appeared with lots of little bumps, thickened parts and indentations. The S-shape, looking down on it, is really designed to hold up the weight of the human body and the its curves generally are attachments on the rear side for each of the three glute muscles.

Flat, elongated Chimpanzee pelvis

Flat, elongated Chimpanzee pelvis

Human pelvic bone

Human pelvic bone

Without getting into too much more detail the glutes are really designed to hold the body up in the center as the center of the posterior chain. Relative inactivity and posture causes this chain to become weak and over stretched in parts, with the glutes usually weak and actually inflexible. We are supposed to use our glutes when we do a lot of activities but they are often weaker than they should be and the muscles of the leg, usually those extending/flexing the knee take over when we go up stairs for examples. Weak glutes often contribute to low back pain and to knee pain as well. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a sprinter, lineman,  hockey player or speed skater with thick, muscular round glutes complaining of general knee pain and back pain?

Most of the people who we see complaining are flat or flabby assed people with rounded upper backs and weak, smallish glutes (referring to muscle mass).

Too many people have butts like this

Too many people have butts like this

Our older family members are perfect examples, complaining about achy knees or their backs “going out.” When was the last time you saw an older person with strong,thick glutes? Most older people, especially in the Developed world are relatively inactive and hold fairly low amounts of muscle all over their body.  Studies have shown that inactivity (esp. in conjunction with age) causes muscles to shrink and weaken over  a period of time. Now imagine inactivity over a period of 30-40 years, combined with bad posture and the resultant overstretching of the back muscles.  You can easily see a recipe for disaster. Whenever I see an older person with a walker or a cane I can’t help but think about how simply building some strength in their glutes might improve their quality of life. Why is that person using a walker? It’s because they can’t balance, don’t have the strength to keep their hips stable and in the proper position.

older person, weak glutes

Older person, weak glutes

A strong set of glutes is more than just an attractive physical asset.  They improve your gait, speed, posture, power and overall movement. I’m not talking about big, fatty glutes;  but truly strong, muscular glutes. Generally I would say they cannot be too big, but not everybody needs Michael Turner, Nadal or Jennifer Lopez sized cheeks,  people really just need to work on their glute strength. Many people do not know the benefit of exercising their butt muscles; so outside of women using butt blasters and bodybuilders most ignore their backside. Squats, thrusts, deadlifts, lunges are greatly underutilized or improperly executed. I have personally heard a lot of people say they avoid them or men say working their lower body too much seems “too feminine.”

Some people, especially those with specific athletic body types and of African descent are predisposed to larger glutes, this however does not mean that they do not experience the same issues with weak glutes.

Sprinters

Sprinters

Look at your side profile in the mirror; if your back is rounded, squeeze our butt cheeks HARD. Your back will most likely straighten up and your pelvis will move forward. This movement pattern is what most people should work on. If you want to increase your glutes size and strength you should start doing four exercises: Squats; lunges; side lunges or squats;  and hip extension, usually deadlifts. If you don’t have much experience working out try doing bodyweight for each, do them twice a week for 2-3 sets 15-20 reps. Do this for about 3 weeks, then add weight to each, try to do them with free weights as opposed to a squat machine for example. Free weights allow more natural movements and add stability as a factor.  There are a lot of resources on youtube  to show you the very basic movements and variations.  I think it is a good idea to at least talk to an experienced personal train or instructor to learn the exercises. For those who are more experienced,  try 4-5 sets of 6-8 for each exercise using a pretty heavy weight and try squeezing your glutes in each rep. Don’t worry about a lot of variations until you have been blasting your butt for about 4-6 weeks. I would add hip thrusts for those looking to increase the sze and shape for those who are very experienced. Thrusts will turn you glutes in shapely, human stones! If you are recovering from an injury or have mobility issues try using bodyweight while squatting to a bench or chair, you can also hold on something when you squat or lunge to move through the range of motion, and keep some weight off your leg or knees. Simply bending modestly at the hips and squeezing the glutes very hard to extend them will help for those who are elderly or injured, until you are strong enough to move on.

If you have weak glutes, they almost certainly tight and inflexible as well. So it is VERY important to stretch and warm up the glutes when doing new workouts or exercises. Youtube and t-nation.com have some great resources as far as this though.

Strong round glutes won’t solve all your problems but, if you want to improve posture, overall movement, strength, and attractiveness work on your glutes. Stick with basics, until you have them down and then move on. And remember to  squeeze! Look for random ass pics for motivation below!

butt crosby Vancouver Olympics huntingbushman serena-williams-butt-photo Sprinterblue strongglutes tgay

My Ass.....thanks to Squats and Deadlifts :)

References:

Evans, W.J. Skeletal muscle loss: cachexia, sarcopenia, and inactivity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Vol 91:(4) pp. 11235-47, 2010.

Gray, Henry. Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body. London, UK, 1858.

Sirianni, J.E. Comparative Primate Anatomy Atlas. Bates-Jackson, Buffalo NY, 2010.

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Why do we need personal trainers?

personalTraining_get-started

This is a question that is often asked either literally or rhetorically by many people who visit the gym or are at least somewhat serious about fitness. “Do I or Why do I need a trainer/coach/whatever,” is asked in some variation or another. Some people are thinking about getting a trainer, some people are told they should get a trainer, they see an ad for a trainer or they are approached by one, somewhere. When this happens what should someone think about, how do they decide? The answer is simple but somewhat biased-everybody, if they get the chance should have a personal trainer for as long as possible.

Why? People can work out on their own, make up their own programs, run, they can even go to sites like bodybuilding.com and “customize their own workouts”! You can download templates, buy DVD’s and with the internet so much more. Why pay someone to give you a workout plan and watch you workout. Why pay someone to yell at you when you can just put on some rock or rap music and workout on you own.  After all, lots of people see great results and stay fit for a lifetime on their own. There are several factors you should think about when you decide to get a personal trainer, and before you dismiss the need for one. BTW, this is for GOOD TRAINERS, not the fly-by-night, in the business for a little bit of money, uninterested lot. Way too, too many people fall into the trap of attaining services for these guys because they’re usually relatively cheaper.  They’re also many times big and muscular, so people assume they must know how to train. Said people unwittingly attain their services and receive little to no results or wack sessions and form the opinion that trainers are an unnecessary rip off.

Reason 1: You don’t know what you’re doing.

This is fairly simple; if you don’t know how to workout, you should seek the help of a professional. Someone to guide and help you prevent injury. But think about this, a trainer’s expertise should be more than just exercise selection and form. Good trainers are professionals meaning they possess knowledge and experience in their industry that you do not. So even if you are an experienced lifter, a trainer has insights and abilities into things you do not simply by virtue of their profession. Too often, this knowledge is reduced to them yelling about form, but a good trainer knows how to keep you motivated, flexible, strong; all of those things and makes particular goals happen for you in a reasonable amount of time.

Reason 2: Trainers are coaches. Coaches are trainers.

Coaches in this instant means a fitness or athletic coach, not really a team coach-although the motivation process is similar. A trainer is a coach, and vice versa. A basic definition of coaching from Wikipedia is: a teaching, training or development process via which an individual is supported while achieving a specific personal or professional result or goal. This is what a trainer does, they move through a process in which you are attempting to better your physical and mental states. Because humanity is not perfect, this process continues from birth to our inevitable deaths. A trainer is supposed to help better your life, and make it more meaningful by way of fitness, in essence.

Reason 3: Being a student should never end.

Learning is possible for your entire life.

Learning is possible for your entire life.

Similar to number 2. Your desire to learn and continue grow should never end.  Your state of fitness and your mind-body connection will improve and get better as long as you work on it. Being a student is about the process of growing, and despite the idea that we are done as students after high school or college, we are never done learning. In a way the same should go for your trainer. They should be consistently improving and increasing their base of knowledge. Having certifications, licenses degrees do not make a good trainer, but they do imply that the trainer likes to learn and share their knowledge. That is one of the major traits of a good personal trainer.

Reason 4: Training is about the journey, not the end result

When it comes to general fitness or getting ready for some competition, we often look at some desired (usually fantasized) result. We try to do too much too soon. Everyone’s trying to lose 20 pounds, grow big arms, get faster, gain flexibility and learn MMA all in the same  two month period. When people think about their body they just look at the flat stomach or the 20-inch biceps that they want, which in turn usually makes us impatient. After all some of these goals take months or even years to accomplish and if you’re focused on a small goal, like bigger arms then you will get impatient as the weeks and months pass. This will lead you to constantly change programs or even stop altogether. But you need to realize that improvement, busting your ass, building trust with your trainer, etc. is what builds a strong, fit individual. Many of the pictures we see of people in incredible shape have taken years not only to shape their body, but shape their minds and habits as well.

Not a good relationship builder

Not a good relationship builder

Reason 5: The need for connection and intimacy

Physical activity with a personal trainer is really unique for the intimacy and closeness that you build. Your trainer sees you in some very vulnerable positions, stretches you, touches you, talks to you about some personal things, so you build-ideally- a very close relationship with your trainer over time. Humans are social creatures by our nature. We always  desire some connection with others as friends, significant others, or allies. Having someone train you is about the connection you build and how you benefit and grow from it as well as your trainer.

Reason 6: Trainers can be partners, and guides

A common misconception about personal trainer and personal training is that it involves you working out with some dude standing over you. Even if you have a typical type personal trainer there is more involved than just telling out “shoulders back.” A good trainer knows how to address your specific issues, so even if you are just tired on the day you workout, they can tweak the workout, maybe end it early and do some type of stretch, etc. so that you begin to feel better.  Often training  also takes the form of a training partner, where your “trainer” is really a guide for you and others, as in the case of warehouse or studio gyms operated by one person (i.e. Elliott Hulse’s gym). Training can involve someone you meet with every so often who give you advice, or an exercise program. Trainers can coach you for sprinting and running only or help you prepare for a bodybuilding show by doing you diet as well. So a “personal trainer” is more than just the stereotypical image you see on TV or planet fitness ads.

We do this……..

personalCoaching

So we both can…………………

Personal_CoachingApexjpg

Reason 7: All Masters had teachers, and students

Think about this: what if you knew a guy who had ‘mastered’ the guitar. He could play all kinds of guitars, and basses, riffs, pick and no pick, just an amazing player. Maybe the best you’re ever heard. But they couldn’t teach anyone. Every student they had broke a string, couldn’t play a tune, sounded terrible, every last one…ever. But you also knew a woman who was pretty good, actually very good-although not as “technically skilled” as the guy. But she was passionate and taught many players; most of whom went on to careers in music or teaching, some even became famous in a blues or rock band. Many of them also surpassed her level of playing. Who would you consider the master? The amazingly technically skilled man in every facet of the guitar, or the passionate but lesser skilled woman who can teach others and even have them surpass her? The point here is that all masters had to have teachers and be teachers themselves-good teachers. If you think about it, in many martial arts institutions the current masters didn’t just become a master after reaching a certain level of skill, they showed some type of proficiency, then they began teaching and after years of practice and teaching THEN they became known as “Master”. Mastery comes from being a trainee and a trainer. Your trainer learns and grows when they work with you in that same way. So one reason we need personal trainers is that trainers need you, not just for business but to grow as well and become masters of their own, as hopefully they prepare you and others for mastery as well.

Reason 8: L-O-V-E. Love.

The most simple reason. Similar to 4,5, and 7. Training with someone is all about love. Not romantic love, but one of trust, mutual need, mutual respect, teaching and guidance. Having a training relationship with someone who dislikes you and vice versa is possible but it’s often is cut short. The love here is about the trainer’s love and passion for what they do and respect for other people, and the trainee’s love of themselves and for a honest, trust worthy, competent teacher.

It all about this, after all.

It’s all about this, after all.

The importance of Man and being a man 2.

Man 2

Man 2

Leading off from the last blog about the importance of Man or Manhood, what exactly makes a man? Besides the anatomical makeup or the stereotypical gender roles in a particular society? It is in my opinion a matter of character and identity. Think about that for a second, almost everything that a Man does is based on what he thinks about himself and what he’s willing to do (or not do). For those of us in the field of fitness, who take it seriously, we base character in part off of what someone how hard someone is willing to push themselves. It only makes sense since that’s what we are trying to make a living out of. But it isn’t just the “pushing” or motivation, its something deeper.

In the past, I was a trainer at a particular club here in NYC. My manager happened to be a former NFL player and a very big guy. For the first month I was there I was hazed-if you want to call it by the other trainers for not working out hard enough.  I thought my workouts were pretty tough, after all I designed them myself. But one day Big H told me he’d enough of me f***ing around on the weight floor, he told “we’re gonna do a leg workout tomorrow.” So I said ok. I didn’t really think too much of it. I have huge legs, so I was sure I could handle whatever Big H threw at me. When Tuesday came I did my little foaming rolling and lower body warm up, then it was time. Now Big H liked to workout with chains-which I hadn’t really don’t before -but I was like I got this, but no I didn’t. No even close. The things that man did top my legs still hurt today when I think about it, I couldn’t work, sit or even take a crap for 10 days. I can’t exactly remember, but I think after a 5 set warmup-with 70 lbs of chain, we did 10 sets of 10 squats ATG! Then we did a leg press-which thanks to my size was about 950 lbs also 10 by 10, then we did Zercher Squats, Romanian dead lifts, walking Barbell lunges, leg extension, leg curls; all heavy and almost all 10 by 10. That was actually about 60% of the workout, I actually passed out halfway a set of deadlifts and then threw up! Now I have a chronic knee/ankle issue that limited my Max squat which I think was about 375 about 140% of my bodyweight at that time, and we used percentages like the first warmup set was 70%of that 375 lbs, second was 85%, etc. (not including 70lbs chain). Then we used  85% max without chains for the sets.

As much as that workout hurt I would do it all over again-if I had the right training partner(s) which I’m still searching for BTW….. Because I LOVED the pain, during and after the workout-although I hated it at the same damn time. I LOVED, LOVEDDDDDD, the pain, as sadistic as it sounds. The reasons are many, as lots of the men and women reading this have been through and go though the same types of workouts, I’m sure. The main reason is that I felt stronger during and after, I found out that I was capable of doing so much more that I had previously thought. I also felt alive! The bottom of each successive squat made my ass burn more the previous, but it felt like I was alive, like I was actually accomplishing something. But mostly I felt like a Man, a strong man, a big and strong man.

This is how I felt!

This is how I felt!

And that is what we should feel like all the time-in general. Like you have something to offer, like you’re special, like you are the strongest person the room, maybe even if that isn’t true. You see that’s what it means to feel like a man(or the man) and to want to be treated like one. I felt in that instance, as I’m sure many others do in games, the Superbowl, the weight room, etc., like I mattered. Not because of what someone did or said, but what I did with my own two legs and my own drive. That’s the essence of character. Too many people have what’s known as character flaws. Everyone has their faults and weaknesses, but I’m talking about something that we choose not to fix because it’ll hurt or it seems too hard, and we let it become something progressively bad. Now some people have been treated badly as kids or picked on in high school, or molested or called names, etc. Some of these people let their internal issues with these problems become flaws. “I was teased as a kid that’s why I shoot the school,” or “my cousin grabbed my butt when I was eight so now I’m gonna have unprotected sex, get an STD and not tell my partners”. Things like that are bad, even traumatic, but you need to turn those negatives experience into positive ones.

When I was in elementary school, I went to a very small catholic school and was the only boy in my grade for fifth and Sixth. And ALL the girls picked on me! I was short, bony and as one girl told me I “needed some air in my buns.”

How I looked then.....

How I looked then…..

Fifth and Sixth grade did not last forever; I graduated moved on to Middle- and High, then College and so on. Starting in Middle School I changed completely I went from being 4’10 ,111 pounds to being over 6′, 250 pounds and built like Terrell Suggs.

.....What I look like now

…..What I look like now

But regardless I didn’t turn into some big bully, nor did I turn into some weak, self-consciousness person; which happened to this kid I knew in middle school who so was scared of being around ANY boys of any age that he would sit in the corner with his head down all the time during lunch and literally jump every time another guy walked past him in the hall. I took that experience as a young man to treat people better than others might, but also not to let anyone disrespect me. I drew some positives out the taunting in school. I didn’t let it become a bad part of my character to hurt myself or anyone around me. The building of character is when you draw on experience and use to make yourself stronger and push yourself. If I could go through years of being bullied, by girls no less at the ages of 10-12 everyday at school, as a 28 year-old man I can make it through a few sets of squats.

That’s what being a man is about.

Good Hunting til next time!

BTW try this leg workout if you want to feel Like Big H made me feel-it is modified a little. You just need to know your Squat One-rep max. 2-min rest between sets or a little time as possible until you feel ready for another set

Starting by Foam roll legs, glutes or what you normally do to lift,

Warmup: 5 sets of 3-5 reps, using 85% of one rep max.

A: Squats 10 sets X 10 reps

B: Leg press 10 X10

C: Zercher or Front Squats 8 X 10

D: RDLs 5 X 10

E1: Leg extension 8 X 10

E2: Leg curls 8 X 10

F:Walking lunges, Barbell 5 sets times a set distance (40-60 feet), to the end and back is one rep

G:100 jumping jacks.

H1: Russian Twists

H2: Bodyweight steps with knee raise 10 X 10

I:10 burpees.

Remember to stretch after!