Here are 5 exercises that will teach you how to ACTIVATE your muscles, help you build a foundation for your strength, and get your Health & Fitness on the right track this winter:
1. GLUTE ACTIVATION
WHAT | Sit on a box or step where your hips are lower that your knees; Lift your toes and push through your heels; Squeeze your bum muscles and lift your nipples towards the roof; relax your bum muscles agin but keep your nipples as close to the roof as possible.
WHY? | People often do not utlise their glutes when squatting because they dont have the joint mobility get their hips below the level of their knees - this is the point your glutes start working. Doing this exercise will help you increase your body awareness, balance, and teach you HOW to activate your glutes while squatting.
2. CORE ACTIVATION
WHAT | Lie on the ground with a relaxed core and place your right ankle on top of your left knee; turn your abdomen muscles 'on' by pulling your belly button to your spine (and up two levels of vertebrae); when your core is activated take the weight of your left foot just off the ground; return foot to ground and relax core. This is a very subtle movement.
WHY? | The majority of movements you undertake every day is generated by, or closely related to your core strength. If your core is not strong it can lead to a lack of support for your spine, and it can also hinder your strength development in major muscle groups, eg. Chest. This exercise will teach you HOW to activate your core during exercise (& every day life) and develop your core strength.
3. HAMSTRING / GLUTE ACTIVATION
WHAT | Lie on your back with your feet tucked in towards your body and knees at around 90 degrees; lift your toes, push through your heels and lift your hips an inch off the ground; return to the ground and relax.
WHY? | Your hamstrings are part of your 'posterior chain' along with your lower back and glutes - for a variety of reasons one of these muscles may lack flexibility or strength which in turn affects the other muscles. You may have a tight lower back which inhibits your hip mobility and potentially your running style. Hamstrings and Glutes are very important for running and need flexibility and strength to create an efficient and effective running style - this exercise will help you isolate your posterior chain and get your muscles 'firing'.
4. BACK ACTIVATION
WHAT | Lie on your stomach with a relaxed back and your arms by your side with palms up; lift your arms up while concentrating on using the muscles in your mid / lower back and place both hands on top of your tailbone. Return arms to ground, relax, then repeat.
WHY? | When performing chin ups or exercises that require the use of your back muscles it is very common for muscle contraction to be placed through the arms. Sometimes we 'shrug' while performing overhead lifts or back exercises and our upper Trap muscles are working overtime. This exercise helps us to focus on contracting the LOWER traps and get muscles we don't normally use firing.
5. CHEST ACTIVATION
WHAT | Lie on your stomach with your thumbs in line with your nipples on the ground; tuck your toes (or dig your knees in), lift your hips an inch or two off the ground; press your hands into the ground and feel your chest muscles working; relax then repeat.
WHY? | When doing press ups we often have our hands 'past' our shoulders meaning we're placing unnecessary strain on our shoulders and not developing our chest strength as we'd like - thumbs in line with our nipples ensures our hand placement is correct. By lifting your hips up your core is required to work (without really realising it) and this stability and strength helps to avoid any 'dipping of the back / pressure on the spine. The angle this creates also helps us to target our chest muscles better.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
+ Perform the above exercises in a circuit fashion:
30 Reps each; then 20; then 10.
+ Take your time and make sure you can feel the muscles working.
+ When you have finished and your muscles are warm - STRETCH!!