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muscular strength

Why You Should Do Butt Stuff

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Why You Should Do Butt Stuff

It’s Monday and you’ve already come up with a huge win for the week; you got up early to go to the gym. You’re not Arnold, but you’ve been to the gym before and you know that Monday means chest day; it’s pretty much an international holiday, right? But who decided you have to bench on Monday? Or any day! The beautiful thing about the gym is that you can do whatever you want (as long as you’re safe and considerate of others)! So why not try something new this morning and work out your butt? It’s really a great idea, let me tell you why.

For those of you who didn’t already know, your butt is actually the biggest muscle group in your body, comprised of the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and the gluteus maximus. This means that you should be training it! And not just to get the boys or girls to do a double-take. Functionally, your glutes have a lot of responsibilities and if you neglect them, you’re going to have a bad time in general and an even harder time being an athlete. Let’s go through just a few of those responsibilities here.

1.    Your glutes are the primary movers in hip extension. What’s that you ask? When your hip angle (between your trunk and your leg) opens up. Ninety-nine percent of people utilize this movement pattern every single day; it’s called walking. Any walking or running you do is going to be initiated by hip extension and if your glutes are weak other muscles (specifically your lower back and hamstrings) will have to compensate and that’s when you start to feel tightness, aches and pains. Nobody wants that.

2.    Your glutes also externally rotate the leg; if running and walking are extension patterns in the sagittal plane of motion (moving forward and backward) external rotation is what allows you to take a step in the frontal plane (moving side to side). The point is. That without your butt you don’t move very well.

So now that you know why you need to workout more than just your quads and hammies on leg day, and also that leg day can and should happen more than once every two months, how do you do it? I want to share with you some of the best booty building exercises around starting with the king of them all; the hip thrust.

Now I know, everyone says that if you want to build your butt you need to hit your squats and get your weight up. However, according to Bret Contreras, PhD, CSCS, an EMG study that compared muscle activation in the glutes between squats and hip thrusts yielded some interesting results (you can see those results broken down here and the actual study here). Hip thrusts are where you put a bar across your hips and push it up by squeezing your glutes and hamstrings. It can be uncomfortable sometimes in more ways than one and maybe draw some strange looks but it’s worth it, here’s why.

To make a long story short, when you are in the concentric portion of the squat (the part where you stand up to complete the rep) maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) of the glutes is at between 80-120%, the highest it will get during this movement overall, the mean activation of the glutes (over the entire squat) is only at about 50-70% because the glutes are fairly inactive during the majority of the movement. Now, in the hip thrust MVC of the glutes can reach between 120-200% and mean activation is typically around 100%. So…do your hip thrusts, but don’t leave your squats out to dry either; they’re still important, just not as much as you may have thought when it comes to the booty.

Your glutes are the biggest muscle group in your body. Skipping leg day isn’t doing you any favors, even if your goals don’t revolve around a rounder backside. Functionally, the glutes provide a foundation along with the core for all athletic movement. So, go on, the awkward eye contact is okay, have some fun and build those buns!

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The Benefits of Rest Intervals During Resistance Training

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The Benefits of Rest Intervals During Resistance Training

Hey everyone, my name’s Taylor Kennon and I’m the newest movement specialist at Perform for Life. I recently graduated with my master’s degree in Kinesiology and I’m excited to begin my career here in San Francisco. Something that really interests me is the physiology behind exercise and the research supporting it. I wanted to write a little bit about rest interval timing because it’s an important variable that, when used properly, can be used to amplify the effects of a good exercise program.

Exercise causes adaptation in the body because it causes physiological stress, which causes the body to improve. Some examples of physiological stress from an acute bout of exercise are glycogen storage in the muscle, acidity in the muscle and blood, and decreased enzyme availability. All of these stresses cause the body to in turn increase its capacity to handle that specific stress in the future, resulting in an increase in performance for future workouts. For example, after the body becomes more acidic following a resistance training bout, the body can handle (buffer) that amount of acidity more efficiently in the future.

There is ample research advocating the use of multiple sets of an exercise during resistance training to induce increases in muscular strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth) adaptations in the body (Kramer et al., 1997). The amount of time taken between these sets are known as rest intervals, which have important implications in both acute responses and chronic adaptations to a resistance training program. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), rest intervals should differ based off of the training goal, whether it be muscular strength, muscular hypertrophy, or muscular endurance.

If multiple sets of an exercise are used, the physiological stress to the body can be repeated, causing greater adaptation and inducing the associated increases in performance (Krieger, 2009). Each type of goal calls for a different rest interval, and if the rest intervals are correct according to the training goal, the stress can be even greater. That’s why rest intervals are so important: they allow for manipulation of the amount of physiological stress. Take a look at the table below to see a few different ideal rest period lengths:

Source: NSCA, Essentials of Strength and Conditioning (Baechle & Earle, 2000)  

Source: NSCA, Essentials of Strength and Conditioning (Baechle & Earle, 2000)  

Depending on the training goal, long or short rest intervals should be used. For example, if the training goal is muscular hypertrophy or muscular endurance, shorter rest intervals are required. This is because these two training goals require incomplete rest to cause a greater amount of stress to the body. Conversely, strength (and power) require higher rest intervals because this training goal requires a more complete rest to perform in subsequent sets. For example, if you perform the bench press for 5 repetitions at 85% of your 1 repetition maximum (strength training parameters), you would need a long rest interval to perform on the next set due to the high intensity (weight). With muscular hypertrophy and endurance, a shorter rest is more ideal because the intensity isn’t as high and one could still perform optimally in subsequent sets, even with the short rest intervals.

Another important thing to note is the effect that rest interval length has on hormone production. There’s an abundance of research supporting the claim that shorter rest between sets of an exercise causes a greater hormone response for exercise when measuring for anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone. Indeed, a study by Buresh and Berg (2009) showed that the anabolic hormone response is greater with 1-minute rest intervals when compared to 2.5-minute rest intervals during resistance training. Both of these hormones are paramount to building and maintaining muscle mass.

If repeated sets are used in a resistance training program, rest intervals are important to consider so that the correct amount of muscular recovery can be obtained between sets, depending on the training goal. If rest intervals are used properly, the appropriate amount of physiological stress can be obtained, leading to the associated hormone and performance benefits. At Perform for Life, we want to help you reach your fitness goals, and using correct rest intervals as a part of an effective program designed to properly stress the body will help you optimally do so.

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Sources:

Kramer, J. B., Stone, M. H., O'bryant, H. S., Conley, M. S., Johnson, R. L., Nieman, D. C., ... & Hoke, T. P. (1997). Effects of single vs. multiple sets of weight training: impact of volume, intensity, and variation. Journal of strength and Conditioning Research, 11, 143-147.

Krieger, J. W. (2009). Single versus multiple sets of resistance exercise: a meta-regression. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(6), 1890-1901.

Book source: Baechle, T. R., Earle, R. W., & National Strength & Conditioning Association (U.S.). (2000). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.

Buresh, R., Berg, K., & French, J. (2009). The effect of resistive exercise rest interval on hormonal response, strength, and hypertrophy with training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(1), 62-71.


 

 

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