If you're interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Move Your DNA, Expanded Edition. If you'd like movement instruction via video, start with Save Your Knees, Build a Butt.
Da butt is a beautiful muscle. Which is why it is sad to see so few of them around these days. I get a lot of emails about the butt. As in, Where Can I Get One?
If I could sell a functioning butt muscle online I would do it, but since I cannot, how about this instead -- my favorite Butt Exercise. I used this in the workout I created for Prevention Magazine (click here for the full article) but they only allotted 25 words to describe how to do it.
And, of course, there about 30 little details that should be included to make sure you’re using your butt instead of other muscles. They body is good at avoiding weak areas.
Here's how to reallllly do it:
1. Take off your shoes. You'll need to do this one barefoot.
2. Find a wall. And, P.S. Don't email me for suggestions if you don't have "wall space." I don't have as much extra time as you imagine and all I'm going to tell you is to have a garage sale because you have too much stuff if you don't have enough wall space for your hands.
3. Put your hands on the wall.
Ok, this is going to take too long breaking it down this way.
4. Make yourself look like this, only less hairy.
When your pelvis drifts in front of your ankle, you'll be using the muscles on the front of the leg -- quads and hip flexors. Unless you have had your butt transplanted on the front of your body, you'll need to back your hips up until your pelvis is behind your ankle. Push on the wall to help you find the position.
Also, don't worry about lifting the back leg really high. The work is being done in the standing leg. Focus there.
Finding the glutes and hamstrings with your leg straight is much more beneficial to helping these muscles fire in every-day tasks like standing, walking, and picking stuff up. For knee, hip, psoas, and pelvic floor issues, this exercise is a must-do.
You didn't think this ended our session, did you?
Here's some common "cheats" -- those little sneaky adjustments we make to the skeleton that decrease an exercises' effectiveness. I could say "don't do them" but you'll likely do them at first. Instead I'll say you'll need to be correcting these continuously.
Anytime you are standing there (with one leg in the air) thinking "Gee, this is easy!" run through this list:
1. Hip Check. (Is one higher than the other?)
Level out the pelvis by bringing the floating side of the pelvis all the way to the ground.
You don't need a mirror, just take it as low as it goes. You'll feel an increase in work on the standing leg.
2. Are you collapsing against the wall. No bent elbows sagging -- keep your arms long and strong. If you need to back up a bit, then do so, but remember your hips should be just behind your heels and your arms straight. Eventually, you shouldn't even need the wall -- your one leg will be strong enough to hold you. Like it should when you are walking...
Look ma, no hands!
3. Your standing thigh should be neutral, not internally rotated.
(Click on the picture to make it larger) On the left, see my thigh rotated inward. I've fixed it on the right. When you roll your bones, you take the attaching muscles with you. On the left, I'm using my ligaments in the knee and hip to hold me (ow, ow, ow). On the right, my hip and glute muscles. Yay!
Most people, due to extremely weak feet, will collapse their foot and ankle, rolling the thigh inwards. You will have to externally rotate the thigh (once you are a bit more advanced) so that your "knee pit" is facing straight back. Make sure that you don't turn the foot out to fix the knee. Foot straight ahead, knee pit straight back. Watch this video for more information on what that looks like.
Note: I like that my stomach is hanging out in the first picture. I know I need to by some maternity clothes, but I refuse. I don't know why. Guess I just like my stomach hanging out all the time. //End note.
4. Is your knee bent? Keep your leg straight with a relaxed patella.
You don't have to force your knee back with your quads, but you should use the muscles on the back of the leg to fully extend it. Your knee caps should be relaxed and not tense. See the video above.
We bend our knees to deal with our lack of strength and balance. It's a natural coping mechanism, but allowing it will prevent you from improving your glute and hip strength. You will feel more muscle when you make the large muscles of the hip participate rather than let the knee and ankle wobble you through it.
Ok. Now all you have to do it is go and do it throughout the day. Work up to holding it for a minute (really watching those cheats)! And let me know how many cheats you found and how it feels with and without them!
And, if you want your thighs to stop rolling in because of your weak, shoe-wearing feet, do the exercises in this book to strengthen the foot (click).