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The importance of training the glutes for pelvic health

Being a mom is such a blessing, and being able to carry our children and birth them is an experience like none other. However, amidst the joys of becoming a mother and motherhood, the physical toll it can take on our body is often underestimated. 

From pregnancy to childbirth and beyond, the body undergoes many changes, particularly in the core and pelvic floor. There are many postural changes during pregnancy that can continue after birth as a mom cares for her newborn. Most of us have not been well educated on things like pressure, prolapse, leaking, or diastasis recti after birth. We’re told to “just do a bunch of kegels” to regain strength and function.

There’s a few missing pieces and today I want to talk about one of them: 

The importance of glute training and how that impacts our pelvic and core health after birth.

As a mom strives to regain strength and function after birth, one area that is often overlooked are the glutes. Yet, these powerful muscles play a crucial role not only in shaping our physique but also in maintaining pelvic health and posture. 

Fun fact: 

Did you know that the shape of our glutes is influenced by genetics? While exercise and lifestyle habits certainly play a role in shaping our bodies, genetics plays a significant part in determining whether someone has a rounder, more lifted "peach" shape or a flatter, wider shape to their glutes. So, next time you admire someone's derrière, remember that their genetic makeup might have a lot to do with it!

However,  this doesn’t mean you can’t grow your glutes. Just like our bodies, everyone has genetics that play a role in our shape.  

The term "mom butt" has unfortunately become a popularized phrase, often used to describe a perceived flattening or sagging of the glutes post-pregnancy. Many moms have simply embraced this term just like they embraced “peeing” when they sneeze as simply a part of motherhood and “mom pooch” for diastasis recti or a c-section.

However, it's time to challenge this notion that this is NOT normal after having kids and you should not settle for it. 

Pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period bring about significant changes to a woman's body. Hormonal fluctuations, weight gain, and the stretching of abdominal muscles are all natural and necessary parts of the journey to motherhood. Despite the miraculous abilities of the female body to grow and nurture new life, societal pressures often dictate that mothers should "bounce back" to their pre-pregnancy bodies quickly, leading to feelings of inadequacy and shame for those who don't meet these unrealistic expectations.

So instead of aiming for “perfection” I help women aim to get stronger. Because naturally, when we aim to get stronger within our WHOLE body with exercise and nutrition,  we stop obsessing over the scale and start recognizing the internal and physical changes our body makes. This creates a new confidence moms didn’t know they could have! 

So let’s dive into the importance of glute training 

The glutes, consisting  of the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus, are the largest and most powerful muscles in the body. Beyond aesthetic appeal, these muscles are fundamental to various movements, including walking, running, and lifting. 

Pelvic Health and Posture:

The pelvic floor muscles form a hammock-like structure at the base of the pelvis, supporting the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Strong and functional pelvic floor muscles are essential for maintaining continence, supporting pelvic organs, and sexual function. The glute muscles, particularly the gluteus maximus, play a vital role in providing support to the pelvis by stabilizing its alignment. Weak or underactive glutes can contribute to pelvic instability, placing increased strain on the pelvic floor muscles and compromising their function.

Proper activation and coordination between the glutes and pelvic floor muscles can be tricky. Many women will squeeze their glutes to contract their pelvic floor, while on the other hand many women will work to contract their glutes and feel no sensation. 

The  coordinated activation between the glutes and pelvic floor helps stabilize the pelvis during movements such as walking, running, and lifting, reducing the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction. 

On the other hand, weakness or imbalance in the glutes can disrupt this coordination, leading to pelvic floor barriers such as incontinence, prolapse, and pelvic pain due to the pelvic floor muscles taking over for the glutes and creating tension. 

Glute Training for Pelvic Organ Prolapse:

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a common condition among women, especially after childbirth, where pelvic organs, such as the bladder, uterus, or rectum, descend into the vaginal canal due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. Glute training plays a crucial role in managing and preventing POP by providing support to the pelvic floor and reducing the pressure on weakened tissues.

Strengthening the glutes helps distribute the load more evenly throughout the pelvis, alleviating strain on the pelvic floor muscles. It wasn’t until I took glute training seriously, that I saw a major shift in my prolapse symptoms. 

Glute Training for Diastasis Recti:

Diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles that occurs up to 100% of full term pregnancies as the uterus expands and places pressure on the abdominal wall. While it is a natural part of pregnancy, some women may experience persistent separation postpartum, leading to core weakness and instability.

Incorporating glute exercises into the strengthening  process is essential for women with diastasis recti. Strengthening the glutes helps stabilize the pelvis and support the abdominal wall, reducing the strain on the weakened connective tissue. Especially for women who have an anterior pelvic tilt (a pelvis shifted forward due to abdominal weight during pregnancy), glute and hamstring training is essential to pull the pelvis back into a more neutral state. 

When women are positioned in an anterior pelvic tilt, this continues to create pressure and load out through their abdominal wall and linea alba which can prevent the strengthening of the core. Our core and pelvic floor activate best when we’re in more of a posterior or neutral position for which the glutes assist with. 

Barriers to healthy glutes:

Prolonged sitting has become a norm, wreaking havoc on our gluteal muscles. Sitting for extended periods leads to gluteal amnesia, basically where the muscles forget how to activate properly. As a result, the glutes weaken, causing a cascade of issues such as hip tightness, lower back pain, and compromised pelvic floor function. By incorporating targeted glute exercises, we can counteract the effects of prolonged sitting and restore optimal muscle activation patterns.

Glute clenching or constantly tensing the glute muscles, is a common habit. While it may seem harmless, when the glutes are constantly clenched and engaged, the pelvic floor muscles can become overactive, leading to hypertonicity or tightness in the back of the pelvic floor. This creates imbalance and coordination between the glutes and pelvic floor, compromising stability and function.

Breaking the Cycle - Effective Glute Training for Moms:

The first step to reclaiming our glute strength & function is to wake the glutes up. In the video below, I walk you through on waking your glutes up after they've been dormant for a while.

Now that we understand the importance of glute training in pelvic health, let's explore some glute firing exercises in this 5 minute mini circuit. You can use weights, bodyweight or loop band. Totally your preference and fitness level. 

Training Frequency and Progression:

For optimal strength and function, aim to train the glutes 2-3 times per week, allowing for adequate rest and recovery between sessions. Start with lighter weights and higher repetitions, gradually increasing the intensity as strength improves. Incorporating variations of the exercises mentioned above can help target different areas of the glutes for a comprehensive program.

This is why in my strength programs inside the Fit Mom Membership, we are training the glutes a minimum of two days per week! You can check out details below on how you can get access to glute specific training programs and workouts if you feel you need help with a workout plan.

As we juggle the demands of motherhood, prioritizing self-care often takes a backseat. However, we know this can impact us negatively. If I don't take time for self care it changes my attitude and ability to have patience. I'm simply a better mom, wife and coach when I prioritize my own health. So it's best to tackle this now and develop healthy habits that will last and become a part of your daily routine, rather than a chore you must commit to.

When we incorporate glute training along with regular strength training into our routine, we can reclaim strength, stability, and confidence in our bodies. Whether combating pelvic floor barriers, addressing diastasis recti, or simply striving for better overall well-being, unlocking the power of the glutes is a transformative step towards a healthier, more vibrant life.

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