15 Jun 2016


With triathlon being such a demanding sport, it’s very common to see triathletes dealing with all sorts of injuries, mostly on their lower body since it’s where usually we push ourselves further in training. My latest issue was caused by a shifted pelvis and weak core stability that revealed itself as an inflammation on my glutes and countless weeks without running. While glutes are not the only muscle group that is important to running and cycling, it seems that most neglect it when it comes to any strength training. It’s fairly common to see people stretching quads and calfs after a cycling or running session but very few remember to stretch the back on the leg and same goes for the strength exercises. What happens then is you will “over develop” some muscles over others and this will create an unbalance in your body. As we all know, life is about balance.

Weak hips and weak glutes have been implicated in a variety of running and cycling injuries. From IT band syndrome to knee injuries and also loss of power on the bike. The hips and glutes basically control your legs on these two sports and they are responsible for making sure your legs move the way they were designed to move and apply power on the pedals with the highest efficiency possible. Because we spend the majority of our days sitting – at a desk, at the sofa, etc – glutes are typically very tight and “asleep”, or they don’t function the way they are supposed to. Fortunately, increasing hip and glute strength is relatively simple and have your glutes function the way they should in both sports will make a visible change to your running stride and pedal stroke.

Even though you might think the opposite, the best days to incorporate strength exercises is on your longer, harder days. The principle is to work really hard on the longer days and leave the body to rest and recover on the easy days so inserting a strength session on an easy day would apply more stress to your muscles then actually removing it.

Following my recent injury, I obviously went on to ask “Dr. Google” what kind of exercises you should do to improve on weak glutes, pelvis stability and core stability. While there are a million exercises to choose from out there, I’ve narrowed the search for you and pulled nine simple ones you can do at home and on the go. You should incorporate these exercises easily into your routine and, again, also remember that life is about balance. While this routine will help you improve on your weak glutes, it’s not just about the glutes.

  1. Hip Hikes (20 reps each side): Stand on your right foot. With your pelvis in a neutral position, drop the left side so it is several inches below the right side of your pelvic bone. Activate your right hip muscle and lift your left side back to its neutral position.
  2. Glute Press (10 repeats x 2 sets): Lying on your back, arms crossed over your chest, knees bent and hip width apart, feet flat on the floor. Keeping your right leg bent lift it slightly off the ground. Balancing on the grounded left foot lift your hips off the ground to create a straight line from your shoulders to your hips. Rise as high as possible without extending at the lumbar spine by squeezing your glutes. Return to starting position and repeat on same leg. Swap legs and repeat.
  3. Kneeling leg extension (5 repeats x 2 sets): Kneel on the floor, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Raise your right leg and move it straight behind your body and form a straight line from your shoulders to your heel. Focusing on that glute and contracting it, bend your knee slightly and push your foot up towards the ceiling. Engage your deep abdominals to balance. Return to starting position and repeat on same leg 5 times. Swap legs and repeat
  4. The Clam (20 repeats x 2 sets): Lie on your right side with both your knees bent. Knees should be on top of each other. Underneath arm is supporting your head and your top hand can be resting on the floor or on your hips to stabilize you. Keep your heels together, lift your left knee up towards to ceiling. Lower knee and repeat 20 times on same leg. This should burn deep in your butt cheek. If you feel it anywhere else you have recruited another muscle to do the work. Swap sides and repeat. Note the second set should burn more.
  5. Hip Raiser (2-3 sets x 15 reps per leg): Start lying on your back, knees bent. Squeeze your glutes, push your heals into the floor and lift your hips Hold for 10 sec then lower your hips to the floor Repeat. To make it harder, once you raise your hips in the air, extend other leg out in line with the bent quad.
  6. Leg raisers (2-3 sets x 15 reps per leg): Lie on your stomach. Squeeze your left gluteal, Lift your left leg and hold for 2sec. Lower your left leg to the floor. Repeat with your other leg
  7. Cobra Arch (2 sets x 5 reps holding 20-30 secs): Lie on your stomach. Squeeze your gluteal muscles and press your hips down into the matt. Lift your upper body keeping your hips pressed downwards. Hold for 20-30sec then lie back down. Repeat. A more challenging pose is to extend arms out straight in front of you and also raise your feet high off the ground. Try to keep both arms and legs straight and press your hips into the ground.
  8. Lunge with twist (2 sets x 10 reps per leg): With a wide stance, step with your right leg into a lunge with your arms out to the side. With your right leg forward, you will twist to the right and hold for 5-10 seconds. Focus on not allowing your leg to drift across your body (keep it straight) Twist back to the front and stand up, then step forward with your left leg. Twist to the left this time, hold, twist back, stand and repeat as required. A variation is to hold a (10-20kg) plate above your head, and rather than twist pause in the deep lunge then stand.
  9. Single leg squats (2-4 sets x 10 reps per leg): Stand on one leg with your hands out in front for balance. Try to do this exercise in front of a mirror to ensure your knee doesn’t drift across your body. Bend your leg slowly and control your knee as it will tend to drift inwards. Think about contracting your glutes and quads to control your leg. Hold for 5 seconds then stand and repeat as required. Then swap legs and repeat. Make this harder by using dumbbells in each hand.  Raise dumbbells as you squat and lower them as you stand straight.