Josée Lavigueur's Space
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Abs and glutes: Why they need a good workout

As you probably know, I’ve been in a field that I love for three decades. During my career, the techniques and concepts have changed, mostly thanks to research. But one trend that hasn’t changed is the need to work out our abs and glutes. There’s tons of articles on how to tone and strengthen these muscles. But why?

There are two main reasons why working out your abs and glutes is so important: aesthetics, of course, but also (and above all) the improved functionality that comes with it. Indeed, these muscle groups play a vital role in the biomechanical system: stronger abs and glutes mean better posture, improved balance and a decreased risk of injury.

Working your abs…

There’s one thing you need to know about these mythical muscles: you should NOT limit yourself to crunches! In everyday life, this type of movement is extremely rare. What you want to do is teach your core stabilizing muscles to do their job in the day to day, not only when you’re lying on your back on an exercise mat! When you think about it, doing crunches is bad for your back because it reproduces a curved-spine position—similar to our tendency to slouch. Instead, work your abs in the plank position (the push-up position) three or four times a week, but also try to be aware, at different times of the day, to engage them. For instance, a friend of mine sticks a post-it note on a door frame with a smiley face on it. Every time she passes the door and she sees it, she engages and contracts her abs!

... and your glutes!

This group of muscles acts a bit like a group of friends helping each other out! The gluteal minimus, medius and maximus are the strongest and biggest muscle group in the musculoskeletal system. These muscles play one of the most important stabilizing roles in protecting all of the lower limb structures. For example, weak glutes can result in misaligned hips, which causes a rotation of the femur and, eventually, knee pain. Training the gluteal muscles also reduces pressure on the lower back. Weak glutes can also trigger muscle strain behind the thighs or in the groin. The bridge is one of the big classics in gluteal training. On your back, knees bent and arms along your sides, push your hips upward and maintain this position while counting to three. Lower your hips on the count of four, then repeat 8 to 12 times. Or, raise your hips while lifting one leg, then lower your hips and raise them again, this time while lifting the other leg, for a total of 8 repetitions on each side.

On your mark, get set, go!