Not being metaphorical here—we’re literally talking about your butt. It’s the biggest and most important muscle you have, but your glutes can get a case of the lazies, forgetting to “activate” or “turn on” sufficiently during everyday tasks or workouts, says certified strength and conditioning specialist Bret Contreras, coauthor of Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body. There’s a textbook term for this phenomenon—gluteal amnesia—and it could be dragging you down. After all, your rear assists in every type of motion: running, jumping, lifting, you name it.
Let’s say you have this amazing coworker. She’s irreplaceable, but lately, homegirl has been phoning it in. Sometimes she doesn’t even show up to crucial meetings, forcing you and the rest of the team to carry her load. What an ass, right?
That powerhouse job description is the reason many scientists believe the glutes evolved into the machines they are today, distinguishing humans from their four-legged ancestors. Ironic, then, that our current lifestyle has set us back a bajillion years. “We’re sitting for hours and hours a day, and that teaches the muscles to be lax instead of active, even for some regular exercisers,” says Robert Panariello, chief clinical officer and founding partner of Professional Physical Therapy of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
And so begins the fallout: Muscles along the back side of your body (known as the posterior chain) are forced to take charge, setting you up for all sorts of fun stuff like muscular imbalances and injury. Even seemingly unconnected things, like a sprained ankle or a stubbed toe, can trigger your butt to hit the power-down button to help the healing process.
So how do we put some fire under this slacker’s ass? Going beast mode and adding more explosive, heavy training (like barbell deadlifts) will definitely do the trick. But we realize that might be asking a lot up front if you’re not already a weight-room regular. Follow our warm-up plan, tweak your strength-training routine, and just like that, you’ll show those buns who’s boss.
Warm Your Buns
This pre-exercise routine from Contreras will energize your tuchus like a double shot of espresso. Perform three sets before any workout.