July "Move of the Month" - GLUTE activators

Photo courtesy of Sheer Madness Productions

Like them on FACEBOOK!!!

So, as paddlers in the prime of our season, we continue to sit A LOT!!!  We kayak for hours on end . . . sitting!  Then we spend hours in front of the computer screen editing photos or video . . . sitting!  AND, to relax after a long, hard day, we watch a movie . . . sitting!  Have I made the point?  We SIT a lot . . . too much!

So what happens when we sit?  Some muscles get tight, others get weak.  When this combination happens, muscle jump in to compensate movement.  When people complain of tight hamstrings or lower back pain, it is sometimes associated with weak glutes.  Weak glutes can be a result of "The Sitting Epidemic".

Here are a few exercises to improve the ability of your glutes to fire and stabilize movement.  As awkward as these exercises feel, they are VERY effective.  Do them in the privacy of your own home if you want, but give them a try for 6-8 weeks and perform them 3-4 times a week.

1.  Glutes Clams - Place your body against a wall.  Stack your shoulders, hips, knees and feet on top of one another, with your knees bent.  Place your top hand on the floor in front of you and press yourself up against the wall.  While keeping your feet "attached", lift your top leg, focusing on the 'lifting' movement coming from your top glute.  Perform 3X10-20 reps and switch sides.

Glute Clams from Heather Herbeck on Vimeo.


2.  Hip Extensions (Bridging) - Lie flat on the ground with your knees bent and feet on floor.  Place your feet hip width apart and keep your knees hip width apart, too.  Lift your hips up, squeezing your glutes.  Hold the glute squeeze at the top for 2-3 seconds and lower back down.  Avoid allowing your knees to "wing out" or come in when you perform the lift.  3X10-20 reps, slow and controlled.


So, why aren't squats and lunges on this list to strengthen the glutes?  Here's why:

If your glutes cannot recognize a movement in which they need to fire (such as squats and lunges), your hamstrings and lower back will "assist" or take over the movement.  So, first you need to train your glutes to activate and fire.  Once they are able to do this, then head over and start training with squats and lunges.  BUT, if you're doing squats and lunges and you feel your hamstrings and/or lower back hurt, then that is the signal that your glutes might not doing their job.

Okay, paddlers . . . the name of the game is to "paddle for longevity".  If you ONLY paddle, you will develop overuse injuries or imbalances in the body.  SO, the only way to counteract that is to train off the water as well.  Give yourself 30 minutes 3-5 times a week to train off the water . . . in the long run, it will pay off big time.

If you are working out for your first time or if you have any questions, please see your doctor or physical therapist before starting any program.  Or connect with me for some online guidance and training (See website below).

PS - Excuse the "non-professional" video, did the best I could at the time :-)

See you on the water,

Heather Herbeck

Fitness & Sport Evolution


  • Heather

    Hi Lee –
    Since this is an acute injury (recent injury), I suggest taking it easy. But, since it has been a few weeks, my next suggestion would be to see your doctor or physical therapist. I can’t diagnose what happened during your movement, but here are some things to try.

    1. Heat your lower back. There are adhesive heating pads you can wear throughout the day (8 hours).

    2. Stretch gently. Try this stretching routine every day. Here are some good stretches to try:

    3. Once the pain decreases (you want to be pain free in any movement that you do), continue stretching, work on the glute exercises above and strengthen your core with foundational movements of core stability and planks.

    4. Again, please see your doctor if pain doesn’t go away. And ALWAYS be pain-free in any movement you do.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to connect at some point with any other questions. fitnessportevolution@gmail.com.


  • lee

    Hello Heather, I was hoping you could offer some advice concerning a recent injury I have had.

    The circumstances surrounding it was upon returning from a pretty stout class IV trip my back was feeling stiff and weak. However I was coerced in to limbing some felled trees at my parents home the following morning. After my third tree I was mostly standing on my right leg and was balancing some on my left that was on part of the tree. As I swung the axe the tree shifted as my weight transferred more on my left foot. I aborted the power of the swing to avoid a wild strike but in doing so alot of that energy was transferred to my lower back. Specifically where my pelvis and tail bone are on the left side. It has been two weeks and though I am able to work it still hurts somewhat to lean forward while sitting and some twisting motions that seem to activate my lower abdominals. If there is anything specific that comes to mind at aiding my recovery I would certainly be in your debt.



Leave a comment