Got Glutes?, Part Two: How Runners Can Further Increase Power and Performance by Having “Smart Behinds”

This instructional article is part 2 of a 3-part series.  See part 1 here with video. We hope that your glutes will enjoy becoming smarter. And why is that?  As was explained in part 1, runners often have under-performing glutes that can lead to big trouble. When our behinds are slow and fail to do their job, then other parts of our body suffer and can lead to low back pain, runner’s knee, iliotibial-band syndrome, Achilles tendonopathy, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and more. So you don’t want to get behind in your glute know-how. Jennifer Pilotti, M.S. and Sarah Young, M.S. will show you how to get your butt into gear, so you then can kick butt in training and racing. –NRC

Glute 202

by Jennifer Pilotti, M.S. and Sarah Young, M.S.

If you have arrived at Glute 202 without fully acquiring smart glutes, then we advise you to first go back to and review Glute 101 before attempting Glute 202 exercises. Your keister will thank you. Watching the video at the top of this page will help you do the following exercises.

1) Single Leg Squat Negative
Stand up tall, facing away from a chair that is directly behind you. Pick your right foot off the ground so all of your weight is on your left foot. Bending your left knee and moving from the left hip, sit back down into the chair. Focus on landing gently and with control. Place the right foot lightly on the ground to help you back up into a standing position, extending fully at the top. Repeat 10-15 times and switch sides.

2) Stu’s Airplane
Stand up tall, with your shoulders back and your abdomen gently engaged. Extend your arms out so they make a T with your body and place all of the weight on your left leg. Hinge at the hip so the right leg extends behind you, right thigh parallel with the ground and your right heel pressing firmly away from you. Keeping the abdomen braced as though you were about to be punched, rotate to the right, opening the entire body, leg, and arm up to the right. Be sure to move from the hip. Return to center and rotate the entire body as a unit to the left. Repeat 10-15 times. Switch sides.

3) Alternating Bridges
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hip distance apart. Your arms should be by your sides, palms up to the sky and shoulders back against the floor. Extend your hips up, lifting from the hips so the knees, hips, and shoulders make a straight line. Think about engaging your abdomen gently. Move the feet closer together so they are almost touching and focus on the hip bones staying completely even, like you are balancing a broomstick on them and must maintain contact at all times. Pick your left foot, not rotating your body at all (remember the broomstick). Lower the leg down and switch sides. If you feel your hamstrings cramping, you are not engaging the gluts enough (this is common in hamstring dominant runners). Once you can easily lift the foot while maintaining proper torso positioning, lift the foot and then extend the knee. Perform 10/side, or 20 total.

4) Bulgarian Squats
Stand about one leg’s distance away from a step, facing away from the step. Place the ball of the right foot on the step. Think about lengthening the front of the right hip by gently extending out of the right glut. Drop the right knee straight down towards the floor, bending the left knee as well, but not letting the left knee shoot forward over the toes (pressing firmly into the entire left foot, including the heel, usually prevents this). Press into the left foot and extend back up. Repeat 10-15 times and switch sides. As the hips become more mobile, you will be able to elevate the back foot higher, using chairs or higher steps. Focus on keeping the hips even and do not allow the hip on the elevated side to rotate back.

5) Cossack
Stand with your feet wide, a little more than one leg’s distance apart. Sink into the right hip, by bending the right knee. Keep the left leg straight, lifting the left toes off the ground and rotating them straight up to the sky so the left foot and ankle are at a 90 degree angle. Place the left foot back on ground and bend the left knee so the hips are level (both knees are bent, hips are back like a squat). Transfer the weight to the left side, straightening the right leg and rotating on the right heel so the right toes point straight up to the sky. Repeat 10-15 times.

6) Monster Walk
Stand in the middle of exercise tubing, with the center of your feet on the tubing. Cross the handles and switch the hands, the right hand holds the handle that goes with the left foot and the left hand holds the handle that goes with the right foot. Your toes should point straight ahead and your shoulder should be down and back. Step your right foot to your right, keeping the foot straight (do not lead with right toe). Pick your left foot up and with control bring it towards the right foot. Keep space between the feet and keep the feet parallel with each other. Perform 10-15 steps to the right and then, facing the same direction, step the left foot to the left 10-15 times (you should end up back where you started).

Glute 303 will appear in several weeks. It’s all about getting your behind in gear! Class dismissed. But if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jennifer Pilotti, M.S or Sarah Young, M.S.

9 Responses to “Got Glutes?, Part Two: How Runners Can Further Increase Power and Performance by Having “Smart Behinds””

  1. Jo says:

    These are deceptively hard. Been waiting for part 2, thanks. Good stuff.

  2. Mike says:

    Alright! Lets get on with Glutes 303! Woo!

  3. Mike says:

    GLUTES 303!!! WANT!

  4. Jenn says:

    Glute 303 is in the process of editing. Should be up in the next two weeks.

  5. Seb says:

    Hello Jenn,

    Thanks a lot for the glute series and verbose description. It’s of great value. Can I kindly ask you to share the optimal number of days per week to practice them. I assume that one set of each exercise is enough but if I’m wrong please advice on the number of sets.


    • Sarah says:

      Hi Sebastian,
      How many sets & how many days is subjective. Part of it depends on how ‘stupid’ one’s behind is. For some one set will be plenty and for others it will take three sets to truly own the movement. But I would recommend being able to do 3 sets of quality reps at Glute 101 before moving to Glute 202. The same for progressing on to Glute 303. A general rule of thumb for developing mastery (i.e. laying down a groove) at each level would be 2 to 3 sets/2 to 3 times a week. The exercises can be done on short run or rest days. Once you’re happy with the IQ level of your behind I’d suggest doing at least one set of the exercises 2 to 3 times a week to maintain the groove. Hope that helps.

      • sarah says:

        To expand on my response above. If a person’s Glutes are on the slow side then doing 2 to 3 sets on a rest day and then at least 1 set on 2 other days (shorter run days), just might be the ticket. Quality reps done under the rule of gradual progress lead to mastery. Once the exercises at a Glute level are mastered you then have the choice of moving to the next level or staying where you’re at (of course we hope you choose to do all 3 levels). No matter what level you decide to master, the exercises that are most challenging at that level are the ones you’ll probably want to stick with and make a part of your routine (1 set/2-3days). If you master all three levels and need more challenging exercises feel free to contact Jenn or myself and we’ll see what we can come up with :)

  6. Jenn says:

    I am so glad you are enjoying the Glute series. I would recommend 2-3 days per week, 1 set. Please let me know if you have any further questions!

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