Discover Your Biggest Ally in Living a Longer, Healthier Life

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Real health and wellness wins
and how to achieve them yourself

Discover Your Biggest Ally in Living a Longer, Healthier Life

We’re shining a spotlight on an often-overlooked yet scientifically-proven key to enhancing both your longevity and your quality of life. 

By: Elazar Fleischmann, CPT
October 12, 2023

A couple enjoying longevity in life because they prioritize strength training

Are you someone who’s always researching ways to live a healthier life, exploring diets, supplements, superfoods, or the latest fitness trends…

Or, perhaps you grapple with the challenges of aging such as experiencing a decline in strength, dwindling bone density, and a slowing metabolism, all contributing to the specter of frailty and the risk of chronic diseases…

Then this is the article for you. We’re shining a spotlight on an often-overlooked yet scientifically-proven key to enhancing both your longevity and your quality of life. This isn't about quick fixes, fad diets, or elusive miracle drugs. It's about the power of strength training—a formidable, research-backed tool that might just be your closest ally in the quest for a longer, healthier future.

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • the influence of strength training on longevity and overall well-being
  • the aging process, exploring the links between muscle mass and lifespan
  • the role strength training plays in preserving strength and muscle mass as you age
  • scientifically-proven advantages of strength training, from enhancing bone density and boosting metabolic rates to improving insulin sensitivity and cognitive function

Whether you're already familiar with the significance of strength training in promoting longevity or just beginning to explore its potential, this article aims to illuminate the path toward a longer, healthier future. The fountain of youth… is here. 

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What Happens To Our Bodies as We Get Older

As we age, our bodies undergo natural changes and a decline in muscle mass, bone density and metabolism. This can later look like frailty in old age and heightens the risk of developing diseases such as; osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease. 

These diseases can all shorten our life span and reduce our quality of life. It may sound morbid, but these changes are natural to the human body. But just because they are natural, doesn’t mean we have to accept them. 

We can maintain and even improve our current state of health by utilizing tools like strength training.

The Link Between Muscle Mass and Longevity

Strength training is the most important intervention you can use to increase your body’s muscle mass. 

Research shows a significant correlation between muscle mass and one’s all-cause mortality. In other words, if we were to bet on who would live the longest out of a group of people, the best information we could use to predict the outcome would be the current muscle mass of each person. 

Low muscle mass also makes it increasingly difficult to perform daily tasks, and greatly increases the risk of falls and injuries. All of this contributes to muscle mass being one of the greatest predictors of lifespan.

One study, done on over 3,600 participants found that muscle mass was an even better predictor of longevity than Body Mass Index (BMI). Muscle mass can even predict your ability to fight cancer. 

A meta analysis on six studies found that cancer patients with greater skeletal muscle mass were twice as likely to go into remission. Those with low muscle mass were more likely to be hospitalized to begin with and twice as likely to be rehospitalized later on. 

Several large studies have concluded similar correlations with other diseases like type 2 diabetes. Older women with low overall muscle mass are far more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women with more muscle mass, even when the average body fat percentage is the same! 

Yet another study found that men and women with type 2 diabetes were able to maintain lower doses of insulin and stabilize blood sugars more quickly if they had a greater amount of skeletal muscle mass.

The importance of muscle mass doesn’t end here. Greater muscle mass has been shown to reduce the likelihood of a cardiac event, slow the onset of Alzheimer’s, and can even predict how likely someone is to maintain bone density and stave off diseases like osteoporosis!

Muscle mass prevents the development of diseases, helps you fight through any current conditions, and strongly correlates with your ability to recover from illness or injury. All of this contributes to your overall longevity and quality of life. 

Maintaining adequate muscle mass as you age will give you the physical strength to stay active, reduce the likelihood of falls and injuries, and give you balance, energy, and mobility.

A trainer directs a man on proper form on the lat pulldown machine

Could Strength Training Be The Key to Longer Living?

Thankfully, your muscle mass is not determined by your genetics, or your past. There is something we can do about it! The answer is strength training. 

Strength training, which involves using some form of resistance to challenge your muscles will simply make your muscles stronger and more powerful. This is how we increase muscle mass. 

By directly stimulating the muscles to contract by moving or resisting a load, you create a metabolic signal in your body to produce more muscle fibers (cells). In other words, you challenge your body and your body adapts. 

There are even more benefits to strength training than just increasing muscle mass! We will dive into those a little later.

First, let’s address why people don’t strength train. It often comes down to one of several reasons; not enough time, not having the proper support and knowledge, fear of injury, or it is just too inconvenient. Thankfully, there is a solution to this as well.

There is a way to strength train more efficiently, more effectively, and in a safer fashion. The answer – slow motion strength training. This involves loading the muscle with resistance and moving slowly through a safe range of motion. 

This means that your muscles are encountering resistance, not your joints. This allows your muscles to work to a state of deep fatigue. This is a good thing! The more deeply we can fatigue the muscles, the more efficiently we begin to experience muscle growth. 

Strength Training Does SO Much More Than Build Muscle

We know that strength training builds muscle, but we bet there is a benefit or two of strength training that you were not aware of. Let’s dive into some of the lesser-known benefits of strength training! 

Increased Bone Density

Strength training isn't just about muscles; it also strengthens your bones. By subjecting bones to resistance, you stimulate the production of bone-forming cells, increasing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Faster Metabolism

A higher muscle-to-fat ratio resulting from strength training elevates your resting metabolic rate. This means you burn more calories at rest, making weight management and fat loss more achievable. Essentially, you become more efficient at utilizing the energy you put in your body.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Strength training improves insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. It helps your body use insulin more effectively, keeping blood sugar levels stable.

Enhanced Cognitive Function

Strength training isn't limited to physical benefits; it also supports brain health. Studies have shown that it can improve cognitive function, memory, and even mood, contributing to a healthier, sharper mind. And again, slow the onset of diseases like Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Improved Energy Levels & Endurance

Strength training goes beyond the visible benefits. It plays a crucial role in cellular health by stimulating processes like mitochondrial biogenesis. This process boosts energy production within cells, keeping you feeling youthful and vibrant. Strength training also increases your VO2 Max, or the maximum amount of oxygen your muscles can utilize. This is not only a marker of endurance, but a very potent predictor of overall health and longevity.

A trainer at The Perfect Workout helping a woman strength train

Tips for Getting Started with Strength Training

Regardless of your current age or fitness level, you can strength train. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Start slow: Jumping into intense strength training too quickly can lead us to focus on the wrong things. Safety is important. We want to slowly increase the load on the muscles, give adequate time for recovery, and actually allow the body to build strength.

  2. Focus on proper form and technique: We are strength training to build our bodies, not break them. Learning and maintaining proper form will prevent injuries and keep you safe. 
     
  3. Consistency and commitment: If you do it once, it is unlikely to have any lasting effect. Staying consistent will maintain the muscle you have worked to build and allow you to gradually become stronger over time. Commitment is key for actually getting the long term results.

  4. Seek professional guidance: Working with a certified trainer will help you strength train in a safe fashion. If you're unsure where to begin, consult with a fitness professional who can design a personalized strength training program tailored to your needs. If you are a seasoned athlete, a professional trainer can take your fitness to the next level! 

Want to Live Longer? Strength Train.

What's the point of living a longer life, if it's not in good health? We all want to be around and actually enjoy the time we have. In this pursuit for a longer and healthier life, strength training is a formidable ally. It may even be our strongest. 

We know about the benefits of maintaining muscle mass. And strength training offers far more benefits than just that. By understanding the aging process and how this affects our bodies, we can leverage the tools we have to improve our bone density, better our cognitive function, stave off disease, and remain strong and active. 

We have the key to unlock the secret to a longer and better future.

This is where The Perfect Workout can help.

To speak with a Personal Trainer about exercise, nutrition or any help with lifestyle adjustments please call us at (888) 803-6813.

 

Why Killing Yourself in the Gym Could Be Doing More Harm Than Good

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Real health and wellness wins
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Why Killing Yourself in the Gym Could Be Doing more Harm Than Good

Discover the 10 telltale signs of high cortisol levels and learn how to naturally balance them for better health and well-being.

A woman with high cortisol levels is exhausted from overworking herself in the gym

If you’ve been diligent about your fitness routine, mindful of your diet, and feel like you're doing everything right, yet you cannot lose weight whatsoever…

Or perhaps sleep is a constant frustration, with the struggle to fall asleep or those 3 AM awakenings becoming too frequent… 

Or maybe your digestive system seems to have a mind of its own, subjecting you to discomfort, bloating, and even stomach cramps that leave you constantly questioning your health.

… high cortisol levels might be the hidden culprit behind your symptoms.

Living with elevated cortisol levels can feel like an unending battle against your own body and mind. Despite doing “all the right things,” you often feel stuck, exhausted, and like you don’t have control over your health.

In this article, we're talking about all things cortisol: 

  • what it is
  • how too much is a bad thing
  • the telltale signs you might have excess levels 
  • how you should and should NOT be exercising
  • the foods to eat
  • low-cortisol lifestyle tips

Whether you’re just noticing you may have a cortisol issue, or you’ve been working towards lowering your levels for a while, we hope this article helps shine some light on areas in which you can make some healthy adjustments.

What is Cortisol, Anyway?

When you're under stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases the amount of glucose in your bloodstream to help fuel your body in the event of a “fight or flight” situation. 

Cortisol also suppresses insulin production, which prevents cells from getting the nutrients they need. This triggers hunger signals to be sent to your brain which can lead to hunger, overeating, and weight gain.

10 Signs You Have High Cortisol

1. Weight Gain

High cortisol levels can contribute to weight gain, particularly around the abdominal area. This phenomenon is often referred to as “stress belly” or “cortisol belly.” When cortisol levels are consistently elevated, it can lead to an increase in appetite and cravings for high-calorie, comfort foods. 

Cortisol can also promote the storage of fat, especially visceral fat, which is the fat that accumulates around the organs in the abdominal cavity. This type of fat is associated with an increased risk of various health conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

2. Trouble Sleeping

Elevated cortisol levels can disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or experience restful sleep. Cortisol follows a daily rhythm, typically peaking in the early morning to help wake you up and gradually decreasing throughout the day. 

However, chronic stress or irregular cortisol patterns can lead to elevated cortisol levels at night, interfering with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. This disruption in cortisol and melatonin can result in insomnia and poor sleep quality.

An old woman struggling with anxiety and depression from high cortisol

3. Anxiety & Depression

High levels of chronic stress and elevated cortisol have been linked to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Cortisol plays a role in the body's “fight or flight” response to stress. 

Prolonged activation of this response can lead to imbalances in neurotransmitters and contribute to mood disorders. Additionally, high cortisol levels can impact the function of the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with regulating emotions and memory.

4. High Blood Pressure

Cortisol can affect blood pressure regulation through its interactions with the cardiovascular system. It can lead to vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) and an increase in heart rate, both of which contribute to elevated blood pressure. 

Prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels can contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a risk factor for heart disease and other cardiovascular complications.

5. Impaired Immune Function

Excessive cortisol can suppress the immune system's activity. While cortisol is an important part of the body's response to inflammation and stress, chronic elevation can weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infections and illnesses. 

This can lead to a higher susceptibility to common infections and slower recovery from illnesses.

6. Digestive Issues

Elevated cortisol levels can impact the digestive system in multiple ways. Stress and cortisol can lead to decreased blood flow to the digestive organs, which can contribute to issues such as indigestion, bloating, and discomfort. 

Chronic stress can also disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, potentially exacerbating digestive problems. Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be triggered or worsened by chronic stress and high cortisol levels.

Older woman dealing with brain fog and cognitive changes from high cortisol

7. Cognitive Changes

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol have been associated with impaired memory, decreased attention span, brain fog, and difficulties with decision-making. Many women will experience a version of this when they have children. It's commonly referred to as either “pregnancy brain” or “mom brain.”

Cortisol can impact the hippocampus, a brain region important for memory formation and cognitive function, leading to changes in neural connectivity.

8. Muscle Weakness

Cortisol is involved in breaking down muscle tissue, a process known as catabolism. While this is a normal part of the body's response to stress, chronic elevation of cortisol can lead to excessive muscle breakdown, contributing to muscle weakness and a decrease in muscle mass. 

This effect can be particularly relevant for individuals who engage in intense and prolonged exercise without adequate recovery.

9. Skin Problems

High cortisol levels can lead to increased oil production in the skin, contributing to acne. Additionally, cortisol can impair collagen production, leading to thinning of the skin and delayed wound healing. This can make the skin more susceptible to damage and slower to recover from injuries.

10. Menstrual Irregularities

Too much cortisol can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body, potentially affecting the menstrual cycle in women. Irregular periods, missed periods, or even amenorrhea (absence of periods) can occur as a result of hormonal imbalances caused by chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels.

The most accurate way to diagnose cortisol-related issues is through laboratory testing, which measures cortisol levels in the blood, urine, or saliva at different times of the day to assess the body's natural cortisol rhythm. This can help determine if there is an abnormal pattern of cortisol secretion.

Kiss CrossFit & Bootcamps Goodbye

Intense and prolonged exercise can lead to a significant release of cortisol. While cortisol is a normal part of the body's stress response, chronically elevated levels can have negative health effects. 

These types of exercises are activities that involve a high level of physical effort, often pushing the body to its limits and causing a substantial increase in heart rate, respiration rate, and overall stress on various systems. 

These exercises typically require a significant amount of energy and can be challenging to sustain for extended periods. 

Here are some examples of intense and prolonged exercises: 

  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • CrossFit,
  • Long-distance running
  • High-intensity cycling/Spin
  • Boot camps
  • Martial arts training 

While these types of exercise can offer great benefits for cardiovascular fitness, strength, and overall health, they can further elevate cortisol levels due to the additional stress they place on the body. 

Intense, yet brief exercise sessions should be incorporated into a well-rounded fitness routine that includes lower-intensity activities and proper recovery strategies to prevent overtraining and excessive stress on the body.

A woman who is fit and healthy from slow motion strength training that helps combat hight cortisol levels

Go Low-Impact

Low-impact workouts are less likely to trigger excessive cortisol release and can actually help reduce stress and promote relaxation. This is important because chronically elevated cortisol levels are often associated with chronic stress, and incorporating low-impact activities can contribute to a more balanced stress response.

Some low impact exercises include:

These exercises are gentler on the joints and muscles, reducing the risk of further stress to an already stressed body. This can support the healing process and overall well-being.

As a cherry on top, low-impact exercises like walking, yoga, or slow strength training can have a positive impact on mood. They promote the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and can help counteract some of the negative emotional effects associated with high cortisol levels.

The Best of Both Exercise Worlds

Slow-motion strength training truly combines the best of both worlds in the case of controlling cortisol. Although it's intense, it's incredibly brief and low-impact. When incorporated correctly, it requires significantly more rest time than time spent working out.

The recommended routine is two, 20-minute slow-motion strength training workouts a week with 2-3 days of rest in between. During the rest time, you can still engage in low-intensity, low-impact activities like walking and yoga. 

A plate of healthy food that helps lower cortisol levels

Foods that lower cortisol

Certain foods and dietary habits can help support healthy cortisol levels and manage stress. While there are no specific foods that directly “lower” cortisol, incorporating a balanced and nutritious diet can help modulate the body's stress response. 

Here are some foods and dietary strategies that may help:

  • Complex Carbohydrates: Foods like whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice), legumes (beans, lentils), and starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes) can help stabilize blood sugar levels. This can prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar, which can trigger cortisol release.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health. Antioxidants, in particular, can help combat oxidative stress caused by high cortisol levels.
  • Protein: Including lean sources of protein in your diet, such as poultry, fish, lean beef, tofu, and legumes, can help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide a steady source of energy.
  • Fatty Fish: Fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the negative effects of chronic stress.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are good sources of healthy fats, fiber, and magnesium, which can support stress management.
  • Herbal Teas: Chamomile tea and green tea are known for their calming properties and may help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Dark Chocolate: Yes! In moderation, dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or higher) can have stress-reducing effects. It contains antioxidants and compounds that promote relaxation.
  • Probiotic-Rich Foods: Foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut contain probiotics that support gut health. There is a growing body of research suggesting a strong connection between gut health and stress response.
  • Water: Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and can help regulate bodily functions, including cortisol release. Dehydration can contribute to stress, so drinking enough water is essential.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate stress. Moderation is key.
  • Balanced Meals: Eating regular, balanced meals and avoiding extreme calorie restriction can help prevent blood sugar fluctuations that trigger cortisol release.
  • Magnesium-Rich Foods: Magnesium is involved in stress regulation, and magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds can support healthy stress management.
  • B Vitamins: Foods rich in B vitamins, such as whole grains, leafy greens, and lean meats, can help support the nervous system and energy metabolism.


It's important to note that while these foods and dietary habits can contribute to a healthy stress response, they are most effective when part of an overall lifestyle approach to stress management. 

An older woman and man enjoying their hobby because they have low cortisol levels

The Low-Cortisol Lifestyle

Lowering cortisol levels and maintaining that low-cort life may require some lifestyle changes. And it's really no surprise that this list includes the usual suspects: sleep, exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness. 

Here are some effective lifestyle strategies for managing cortisol:

  • Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise can help reduce cortisol levels and improve overall stress resilience. Aim for a combination of aerobic exercises (e.g., walking, swimming, cycling) and strength training. However, avoid excessive high-intensity exercise, as it can temporarily elevate cortisol levels.
  • Meditation & Breathwork: Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and lower cortisol levels. Practicing mindfulness regularly can improve your ability to cope with stressors as well.
  • Adequate Sleep: Prioritize sleep by maintaining a regular sleep schedule and creating a comfortable sleep environment. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. 
  • Balanced Nutrition: Eat a well-balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive caffeine, sugary foods, and alcohol, as they can contribute to cortisol spikes and disrupt sleep.
  • Limit Stimulants: Reduce or eliminate the consumption of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially in the afternoon and evening. These substances can disrupt sleep and increase cortisol levels.
  • Social Support: Maintain strong social connections with friends and family. Having a support system can help you cope with stress and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Time Management: Organize your schedule and prioritize tasks to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed. Time management techniques can help prevent chronic stress.
  • Limit Exposure to Stressors: Whenever possible, minimize exposure to stressful situations or environments. This might involve setting boundaries, saying no to additional commitments, or making changes to your work environment.
  • Laugh and Have Fun: Engage in activities that make you laugh and bring joy. Laughter has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Hobbies and Leisure Activities: Make time for hobbies and activities you enjoy. Engaging in enjoyable activities can provide a welcome break from stressors. Pickleball anyone?
  • Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable goals and break them down into manageable steps. This can reduce the sense of overwhelm and help you stay focused.
  • Limit Screen Time: Reduce exposure to screens, especially before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with sleep patterns.
  • Nature and Outdoor Time: Spend time in nature and outdoor environments. Nature walks or simply being in natural settings can have a calming effect on the nervous system.
  • Professional Help: If you find that chronic stress is significantly impacting your life, consider seeking help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor. They can provide valuable guidance and support.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Managing Cortisol

Cortisol, aka the “stress hormone,” plays a crucial role in the body's response to stress and its ability to function effectively in high-pressure situations. However, when cortisol levels remain consistently elevated due to chronic stress, it can have a big negative impact on your health.

From weight gain and sleep disturbances to anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure, the effects of excess cortisol are far-reaching and can significantly impact quality of life. Recognizing the signs of elevated cortisol levels is the first step in addressing these issues and taking proactive measures to manage stress.

For someone dealing with chronic stress, lifestyle changes are absolutely necessary to achieve and maintain balanced cortisol levels. These strategies include a wide range of practices, from regular physical activity and meditation to balanced nutrition and adequate sleep. By incorporating these habits into daily life, you can effectively reduce cortisol levels and cultivate a more resilient response to stress.

An often overlooked – and extremely important – piece of the puzzle is understanding the role of exercise in managing cortisol. While intense and prolonged workouts can elevate cortisol levels, they can be balanced by incorporating low-impact exercises like walking, gentle strength training, and yoga into a fitness routine. To get the best of both worlds, consider slow-motion strength training.

Finally, the role of nutrition in cortisol regulation should not be underestimated. While no single food can directly lower cortisol, a well-balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and essential nutrients can help the body better cope with stress and maintain hormonal balance.

This long list of solutions may seem overwhelming and it might feel impossible to do all at once, but it is possible to create change. Start by making adjustments in one area of your life until it becomes a healthy habit. Once you have that down, conquer the next area of life. 

Soon you’ll begin to see and feel the changes in your body! 

Meeting with a Personal Trainer and/or a Nutrition Coach can help you build a game plan to manage your symptoms. 

This is where The Perfect Workout can help.

To speak with a Personal Trainer about exercise, nutrition or any help with lifestyle adjustments please call us at (888) 803-6813.

 

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Best Exercises for Shoulder Mobility

The Best Exercises for Shoulder Mobility

Learn about the shoulder joint, how shoulder mobility works, and the best exercises to keep your shoulders healthy and strong with The Perfect Workout!

Updated 03/24/23
Lat Pullowdown exercise at The Perfect Workout

Did you know that your shoulder is the most mobile joint in your whole body?

It can move up and down and twist around in all different directions.

But because it moves so much, it is also less stable, which makes it more susceptible to injury-induced pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of the shoulder joint, how shoulder mobility works, and the best exercises to keep your shoulders healthy and strong.

Jump to Topic:
Why Are Shoulders Important?
How Shoulder Mobility Works
The Best Exercises for Shoulders
The Weight of the World on Your Shoulders

Why Are Shoulders Important?

If you’ve ever put something into the overhead bin, tossed a frisbee, or had to reach something in the back seat, you’ve taken advantage of one of the most useful abilities your body possesses: shoulder flexibility!

During your formative years you don’t even think about it. But as the years go by, your shoulder joints let you know that it is more and more important to build strength in this critical area.

New Solutions to Build On Foundational Ideas

We’ve talked about joint health before. And while the shoulders have certain unique attributes compared with other body parts, many of the same principles apply.

A Full Range of Motion

As we’ve written previously, one of the main principles of joint health and stability is to move the joint in question through its full range of motion.

The shoulders are no different, and whichever strategy you use to enhance your shoulder movement, it should involve the full range of motion of which your shoulders are currently capable. Otherwise, you could limit your strength gains or even restore your shoulders’ capacity but only in a small part of the full range. Not good!

Not So Different from Other Joints

The same general things that are good for the knees, the hips, or any other joints in the body are also good for the shoulders. We actually wrote up a good rundown of why hip strength and flexibility are so important, for example.

Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are also contributors to shoulder pain and limited movement, and it’s important to know what to do to solve both problems. Often you can ‘hit two birds with one stone.’

Speaking of which…

How Shoulder Mobility Works

Many well-meaning but misinformed people—when first attempting to address their shoulder pain or lack of shoulder function—engage in a program of stretching that is designed to increase the flexibility of the shoulder joint.

But this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between a joint, the limbs it connects, and the muscles that control its movement.

“Increasing” Your Flexibility vs. “Enhancing” Your Flexibility

Joints are permissive, not motive. That is, they permit movement. They do not produce it. The muscles produce the movement.

A muscle contracts, and the attached limbs move only as far through the range of motion as the involved joints will permit.

So if you want to restore full flexibility, which side of the cause/effect relationship should you adjust?

Many in the fitness industry focus on the effect and ignore the cause. They will attempt to improve shoulder movement by performing held stretches, foam rolling, or other strategies to loosen up the connective tissue and force the arm into previously-unobtainable positions.

But now they’ve created a situation where the shoulder has the flexibility to move into all parts of the range of motion, but the involved musculature is not strong enough to control the arm through that range.

So all they’ve really created is joint instability: an arm that can move into positions beyond the control of the muscles.

They’ve “increased” their shoulder flexibility. But they have not “enhanced” their shoulder’s ability to move.

Focus on the Cause and the Effect Will Follow

Think back to our fundamentals: the muscles contract, and the involved joints allow movement. The point at which the muscular force is insufficient to move the limbs any further is the end of the range of motion.

So if you have tight shoulders, or just want to increase your shoulder flexibility, all you have to do is increase the strength of the involved muscles! Simple.

In other words, there is nothing that can be done for your shoulder ability and health through stretching or physical manipulation that cannot be matched and surpassed by increasing the strength of your muscles. And with a far smaller time commitment, too.

The Best Exercises for Shoulder Mobility

So now the task is simple: what are the best movements for enhancing the strength of the muscles that surround the shoulder? The good news is that these shoulder exercises work for seniors, twenty-somethings, and working professionals alike.

Lateral Raise

The lateral raise involves flexion of the shoulder out to the side of the body, primarily involving the side deltoid. This muscle is the “cap” of the shoulder, and has primary control of the majority of the range of shoulder flexion. Very important for movement.

Image of a lateral raise exercise

Overhead Press

The overhead press is performed by pressing the arms overhead. This involves coordination of the front deltoid, side deltoid, triceps, and trapezius muscles, all very important for shoulder health.
A member of The Perfect Workout performs the Overhead Press exercise

Compound Row

The compound row is performed by pulling the resistance in towards the body on a horizontal plane. It involves the use of the rear deltoid, side deltoid, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, arm flexors, and grip. This is another example of a movement involving all the muscles that surround the shoulder joint, enhancing its health and integrity in the process.

A member of The Perfect Workout performs the Compound Row exercise

Face Pulls

Face pulls are a very targeted exercise for the rear deltoid, rhomboids, trapezius, and other muscles that connect the shoulder blades and the shoulder joint itself. It is very popular in physical therapy clinics around the globe.

Image of a man doing a face pull exercise

The Weight of The World on Your Shoulders Just Got Lighter

Always remember that shoulder mobility begins and ends with the strength of the surrounding muscles.

Here at The Perfect Workout, we don’t just wrench your joints through extreme parts of the range of motion in a misguided attempt to increase your flexibility.

Instead, the focus of your time is where you can get the biggest return: getting you stronger. There’s nothing that can be accomplished for your shoulder health that cannot be achieved as a result of our targeted, efficient strength methodology.

We know strength training is important, but nutrition is also a huge piece of your wellbeing. If you'd like help learning how to implement these new habits alongside your workouts, schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email [email protected] to get started.

The Dangers of Excess Sitting

The Dangers of Excess Sitting

Excessive sitting can increase the risk of various health issues, such as obesity…
By Dr. Sean Preuss Ed.D, M.S | Updated 02/07/23

Sitting for prolonged periods has become a norm in today's society. With the rise of work-from-home jobs and smartphone capabilities, people are spending more time than ever sitting in front of a computer, hunched over their phones or watching TV.

While this may be comfortable at the moment, sitting too much can have some serious implications for our health.

Research shows that excessive sitting can increase the risk of various health issues, such as obesity, heart disease, and even premature death.

In this article, we will delve into the dangers of sitting too much and what you can do to counteract its negative effects on your health.

Are You Sitting Too Much?

How do you know if you are sitting too much? Here are some quick questions you can ask yourself to assess whether or not you’re sit/stand ratio is out of whack:

Have I been gaining weight?
Have I been experiencing lower back pain and/or chronic pain?
Have I been feeling tired or lethargic?
Have I been experiencing anxiety or depression?

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions, then you could be sitting too much in your day-to-day life.

Sure, these symptoms could be a result of many other issues; however, if you have an inclination that you might be too sedentary and are experiencing some of these issues…

You may be onto something.

And it's worth taking a look at your daily movement because there are some seriously scary risks of excess sitting. The risks include the following:

  • Higher blood pressure, triglycerides, and hyperglycemia.
  • Higher risk of heart disease.
  • More likely to suffer from insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes).
  • Heavier bodyweight and a larger waist circumference.
  • Elevated risk of early death.

Studies show the average person sits around 7-10 hours per day. The healthiest group in research are those who sat less than three hours per day.

That might be unachievable for many. Even if you can’t reach that total, it’s a worthwhile pursuit to reduce your daily sitting quantity.

Another option is to interrupt “sitting marathons.” Below are a few practical approaches for reducing sitting time or for interrupting long periods of sitting.

How to Sit Less & Move More

The walking workstation is referred to as a “treadmill desk” or “walking pad.” This has become increasingly popular in the last couple of years with the boom of work-from-home jobs. These allow people to move slowly while reading/working or performing most activity at their desk.

When using a treadmill desk, aim to walk at a pace around 0.8 to 1.5 mph. (It’s not meant to be a workout. It’s just a replacement for sitting).

A man walking on a treadmill desk

If the treadmill isn’t possible, opt for a standing desk. You can find these everywhere these days from Amazon to Walmart, as well as higher end furniture stores. They are also rather easy to construct using counters and other tables at home. Or simply find a surface that’s around the height of your belly button or slightly taller to place your laptop on and voila- you’ve got yourself a more ergonomic workstation.

A woman using a standing desk

Try to stand up every hour. This might be the easiest (and 100% free) solution. Stand during TV commercials, meetings, or phone calls. Use a phone alarm or smartwatch to set alerts to stand at least every hour.

If time allows, walk for at least a minute before returning to your seat. Use these tools instead of relying on your memory and good intentions. You will forget.

If you are an Apple Watch user, it is designed to automatically notify you when you’ve been sitting too long and it's time to stand. Don’t ignore these! They are trying to make you healthier.

Sitting too much can have serious consequences for our health, but the good news is that there are simple steps we can take to counteract its effects.
By incorporating physical activity into our daily routines, taking frequent breaks to stand up and stretch, and making small changes to our habits, we can reduce the amount of time we spend sitting and protect our health.

Remember, our bodies were designed to move, not sit for hours on end. So, make a conscious effort to be more active and protect your health for years to come. By making small changes, we can create a healthier and more active lifestyle, and enjoy the many benefits that come with it.

If you are new to The Perfect Workout, try a FREE workout with us.

We know strength training is important, but nutrition is also a huge piece of your wellbeing. If you'd like help learning how to implement these new habits alongside your workouts, schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email [email protected] to get started.

We know strength training is important, but nutrition is also a huge piece of your wellbeing. If you'd like help learning how to implement these new habits alongside your workouts, schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email [email protected] to get started.

How to Improve Balance for Seniors & Exercises for Core Strength

How to Improve Balance for Seniors with Exercises for Core Strength

How to Improve Balance for Seniors with Exercises for Core Strength

image of a female exercising to improve balance

Having good balance requires much more than being able to stand on your own two feet. Especially for seniors and those at risk for falls. Luckily, better balance can be obtained through slow-motion strength training, increased core strength and a few simple balance exercises.

In this article we discuss the importance of strengthening our muscles and bones to maintain balance and prevent injury. We’ll also dive into the ever-so popular topic of “core strength” and how you can keep those muscles strong as you age.

Jump to Topics:
Assess Your Balance
Improve Your Balance
Strength Training
Core Strength
Balance Exercises

A trainer helps a man improve his balance with strength training

Why Seniors Should Improve Balance

3 million older adults are hospitalized annually for fall-related injuries (CDC, 2020).

But falling isn’t inherently dangerous…

If you’re a grandparent of a toddler, you might see your grandchild fall regularly without suffering a serious injury. Athletes also hit the ground often during their sports, usually without suffering a severe injury.

However, for older adults, falls often have severe consequences.

And one way to prevent those falls… balance!

image of a senior man falling

One in every four older adults suffers a fall every year (CDC, 2020). Many of these falls lead to fractures, typically at the wrist or hip. About 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls (CDC, 2020).

The added danger of falling for older adults is due to the presence of weaker, more hollow bones. We lose bone tissue throughout adulthood. Falling can push a weaker bone over the threshold of what it can endure, leading to a fracture. The lack of activity which follows a fracture can subsequently cause a steep and fatal health decline, hence why so many older adults die following a hip fracture.

Strengthening the bones is important, but it’s not enough. There’s another key area to focus on: balance. Balance declines with age, but it can be improved (El-Khoury et al., 2013). Having sufficient balance will greatly reduce the risk of falling and, therefore, reduce the risk of suffering a severe injury..

As you read this, you might wonder, “is my balance poor?” If so, “how can I improve it?” Keep reading!

Senior woman practicing balance exercises

How Can I Assess My Balance?

Balance is a tricky concept when considering it’s not as obvious as strength, which can be assessed by simply moving a piece of furniture or lifting a heavy box. A simple way to assess your balance is to perform the “Single Leg Stance” or “One-Legged Stance Test” (Agility Lab, 2013). This is a test of how long you can stand on each leg. Here’s how you can perform it:

  1. Stand in a space where you can reach something (a counter, table, or other sturdy structure) if needed.
  2. Keep your eyes open and arms on your hips.
  3. Lift one leg off the ground and keep it elevated. Start a timer as soon as your leg leaves the ground.
  4. Stop the timer when the elevated leg/foot hits the ground OR when either of your hands leave your hips.(If you reach a minute, you can stop. Your balance is great and anything beyond a minute isn’t necessary to measure).
  5. Perform the test again, but with the other leg.

Fall risk is considered “high” when a person can’t stand for more than five seconds on a leg. If your time on either leg is short, consider re-testing every few weeks as you aim to improve your balance.

Strategies for Improving Balance

Strength Training

Strength training, as we’ve attested to in so many previous articles, seems to be the closest thing to the existence of an “anti-aging” treatment. As you might expect, strength training also helps fight the age-related effects on balance. About 70% of the 107 studies analyzed in a research review showed that strength training decreased older adults’ fall rate (Cadore et al., 2014). Two studies showed that strength training’s ability to improve balance extended to those in their 80s and 90s (Cadore et al., 2014; Serra-Rexach et al., 2011).

What is it about strength training that makes it so important for balance? One reason is the impact on muscles surrounding critical standing and walking joints. When strengthening the glutes (butt), quadriceps (front thighs), and hamstrings (back of the thighs), people can more effectively control and move their bodies, even when walking in unstable areas.

Several leg exercises are key for balance. The leg press is most important due to its ability to strengthen the largest leg and hip muscles (quadriceps and glutes). Other helpful exercises are the leg curl (hamstrings), leg extension (quadriceps), hip abduction (glutes), and calf raises (the calves can improve balance through better control of the ankle joint).

Core Strength

However, it’s not just training the legs that explains strength training’s benefit for balance. Strengthening “core” muscles is also a big contributor to balance. Training deeper midsection muscles, specifically the transverse abdominis and lower back muscles, enhance stability (Kang, 2015). The midsection muscles play a big role in posture and ensuring that our body weight is evenly distributed among our legs, avoiding an excessive lean in one direction that could encourage falling (Kang, 2015).

To strengthen these midsection muscles, a few exercises are recommended. A plank or dead bug exercise can enhance the strength/endurance of the transverse abdominis. To strengthen the lower back muscles, the most effective method is to use the lower back machine in one of The Perfect Workout studios (if they have one). If one is not available, you can use the superman or bird dog exercise.

TPW Member, Teonie, improving her balance by practicing planks

Balance Training

“Balance training” is an umbrella term used to describe many simple activities people can participate in to improve balance. They improve balance to a similar degree that strength training does (Zech et al., 2010). The research shows that balance training is most beneficial when performed at least 30 minutes per workout at a frequency of three sessions per week (Lesinski et al., 2015).

Balance training includes a number of activities, including the following:

  • The Star Excursion Balance Test, which involves hopping on one leg.
  • Standing on one leg on a hard surface.
  • Standing on one leg on an unstable board.
  • The Walk and Turn test, which is walking on a straight line (similar to what’s depicted in DUI sobriety tests).

Takeaways

Falling is a big concern for older adults. We lose bone strength over time, which makes us increasingly likely to fracture bones when falling. We can help avoid these issues by strengthening out bones (through strength training), but improving our balance is also critical.

Balance can be improved through a few methods: strengthening our legs, deeper abdominal and lower back muscles, and by performing walking and single-leg standing activities. When performing some or all of these, we can reverse the age-related impact on balance.

  • Agility Lab. (2013). Single leg stance or “one-legged stance test.” Retrieved from https://www.sralab.org/rehabilitation-measures/single-leg-stance-or-one-legged-stance-test
  • Cadore, E. L., Casas-Herrero, A., Zambom-Ferraresi, F., Idoate, F., Millor, N., Gómez, M.,…& Izquierdo, M. (2014). Multicomponent exercises including muscle power training enhance muscle mass, power output, and functional outcomes in institutionalized frail nonagenarians. Age, 36(2), 773-785.
  • CDC. (2020). Keep on your feet. Injury Prevention and Control. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/older-adult-falls/index.html#:~:text=One%20out%20of%20four%20older,particularly%20among%20the%20aging%20population.&text=About%2036%20million%20falls%20are,in%20more%20than%2032%2C000%20deaths.
  • El-Khoury, F., Cassou, B., Charles, M. A., & Dargent-Molina, P. (2013). The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall induced injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ, 347, f6234.
  • Kang, K.Y. (2015). Effects of core muscle stability training on the weight distribution and stability of the elderly. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(10), 3163-3165.
  • Lesinski, M., Hortobagyi, T., Muehlbauer, T., Gollhofer, A., & Granacher, U. (2015). Effects of balance training on balance performance in healthy older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 45, 1721-1738.

Safe & Effective High Intensity Glute Workouts

High Intensity Glute Workouts Are Safe & Effective

Plus they are easy on the knees and help support the low back!

High Intensity Glute Workouts Are Safe & Effective

Plus they are easy on the knees and help support the low back!

Image of a member training on the leg press

Backside. Behind. Bottom. Bum. Butt. Derriere. Fanny. Posterior. Rear. Rump…

We’re talking about the glutes.


The “glutes” are a critical muscle group for function and appearance. They are key muscles that assist in walking, running, balance, supporting the lower back, keeping our pelvic girdle in alignment, and taking stress off of the knees.

The glutes are the primary muscle group that provide shape to the lower body, and by increasing the size of your glutes, you can enhance your shape from both a side and front view.

In this article we cover the function of the glute muscles and some safe & effective exercises you can do to train your backside…or whatever name you use for it!

What Muscles Make Up The Glutes?

The glutes include three muscles:

  • The gluteus maximus is the largest, hence the name. It’s the back of your butt. When you grow this muscle, you have more shape when looking from a profile view. This muscle is critical for walking upstairs or hiking, and for getting out of a chair.
  • The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are the smaller glute muscles. They are actually more on the side of your body than on the back. If you increase the side of these muscles, you’ll notice thicker hips from a front view. They make your hips wider. They are also critical muscles for walking, lateral movement (e.g. moving along the baseline in tennis), and also help to maintain balance and prevent falls.

Safe & Effective Glute Exercises

Below is a list of highly effective exercises that target the glutes and are safe on the knees.

Image of a training working with a female member on the leg press

Leg Press

The Leg Press Machine is an incredible piece of equipment because it allows you to fully target the biggest muscle groups in the body, the glutes and the legs. Because the leg press addresses all major muscles in the entire leg in one brief exercise it’s one of the best workout machine for glutes.

How to do it:

  • Using a seated Leg Press machine, begin with feet hip width apart on the footplate of the machine.
  • Slowly push through your heels, keeping your buttocks down in the seat, pushing each repetition to the point just shy of locking out your knees.
  • Resist the weight all the way down to your starting position, but don't rest!
  • Slowly begin another repetition while keeping your muscles engaged the entire time.
  • Repeat until you achieve momentary muscle failure.

You can tell that the exercise is correct if you feel your glutes working and can keep your hips from lifting off the seat.

Read about how Michelle targeted, tightened, and lifted her glutes.

Trainer giving an example of a glute bridge workout

Glute Bridge

This exercise works as it targets the gluteus maximus and requires little help from other muscle groups. In other words, your glutes are primarily relied upon to perform the movement. A recent study also showed that the glute bridge is very effective in recruiting gluteus maximus muscle fibers (Kennedy et al., 2022).

This exercise is for people who don’t have access to a lot of equipment, workout at home, or anyone who wants to add to their glute workout. It should be avoided with people who struggle to get onto and off of the floor.

How to do it:

  • This exercise is simple. Lie on your back on the floor. Rest your head on the ground and keep your arms straight and by your sides.
  • Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the ground, roughly six inches away from your butt.
  • Push your heels into the ground and drive your hips up as high as possible.
  • When reaching the highest point, hold for two seconds.
  • Slowly lower your butt until it briefly touches the ground, then start the next repetition.

You can tell that the exercise is correct if you feel your glutes working and can raise your butt to the point where your body forms a straight line, from your knees to your neck.

With using only body weight, it’s likely that you’ll perform many reps. Perform as many reps as you can until you can’t raise your butt the full distance. If you can perform over 2 minutes, consider performing a single-leg bridge (one leg is straight and resting while the other knee is bent).

Hip Mobility is just as important as hip strength. Learn what you should know about hip strength and mobility.

male doing an abduction exercise

Seated Hip Abduction Machine

This exercise is important as it works the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. In other words, you should feel it more on the sides of your butt (if you put your fingers on the sides, you should feel them working). The gluteus medius and minimus are strengthened when pushing your thighs out to the side.

This side glute workout is a great choice for anyone with healthy hip joints. It’s not recommended for those with sciatica or injured hip joints.

How to do it:

  • If possible, recline the back of the seat a few notches where you are visibly reclined (as if you were going to take a nap.
  • Move the legs of the machine all the way in and place your feet on one of the steps at the bottom. Position your feet at a place where your outer thighs – not your knees – are pressing against the thigh pads.
  • Rest your hands on the handles and rest your head against the back pad (if there is one).
  • Push your outer thighs out as far as possible. When reaching the furthest point out, hold for two seconds.
  • Slowly bring your legs together while still resisting the thigh pads.
  • Briefly tap the weight on the weight stack, then start the next.

You can tell if the exercise is performed properly if you can move the weight a far distance. If the weight is only lifted a few inches off the weight stack, the weight is likely too heavy. Another sign that you are properly performing the exercise is if the pads are pressed against your outer thighs and that your feet, nor your knees, are the sources of effort against the machine.

The use of the glutes with hip abduction increases as the seat is further reclined. You can recline your seat to increase the quality of the exercise when it comes to your gluteus medius and minimus. However, if the seat is reclined too far, then you may fall out of alignment with the axes of the machine. Your instructor can find the right balance between the two.

Second, while it’s tempting to use your feet to push the machine arms apart, focus your effort on pushing your thighs against the pads instead. Your gluteus muscles connect to your thighs, and if you focus on pushing through your thighs, you’ll likely “feel” those muscles more.

Female doing a standing abduction exercise using resistance bands

Standing Hip Abduction With a Resistance Band

This exercise is effective for training the gluteus medius and minimus. They assist with improving the shape of the glutes on the sides of your body. This works well because it features a large range of motion and uses the two smaller glutes in their natural movement.

This exercise is a great choice for people with very little equipment available to them. Almost anyone can perform this exercise. It can be challenging for people with poor balance.

How to do it:

  • Wrap a resistance band around one ankle and attach the other end to a machine or other stable structure.
  • Take a side step away from the structure that the band is attached to.
  • Stand upright, with your shoulder facing the structure.
  • If possible, rest your hands on a nearby table or other taller structure for balance support.
  • Keep your unbanded leg on the ground. Slightly raise the other leg in front of you so your foot is a touch off the ground.
  • Now you’re ready to start. Push the banded leg as far out to the side as possible.
  • Once reaching the furthest point out, hold for two seconds.
  • Move the banded leg slowly back to the unbanded leg.
  • When reaching the starting position, slowly push out again.

You should be able to tell if the exercise is performed correctly by simply feeling the muscles. Other ways to decipher proper form are the range of motion (are you pushing out a far distance or barely moving?) and your posture. Your posture should be upright the whole time. Avoid slumping over as you push out.

Perform this exercise until you can no longer push out the full distance. If you exceed about 20 reps, use a more challenging resistance band.

Male performing a bulgarian split squat

Bulgarian Split Squat

Think of this exercise as a squat or lunge with minimal help from one leg. It works the gluteus maximus and quadriceps on one leg. Since it is a single leg exercise, the gluteus maximus is forced to work harder.

This exercise is recommended for people who can handle a challenging exercise and who have moderate to strong balance. It’s not recommended for those with knee injuries or poor balance.

How to do it:

  • This can be performed with body weight and a bench. Use dumbbells if it’s too easy with body weight.
  • Stand against the middle of the bench, with the back of your legs pressed against the bench (facing away from the bench).
  • Take a large step with one leg, leaving your other leg pressing against the bench.
  • Place the back foot on the top of the bench. In other words, the top of your back foot is resting on the middle of the bench.
  • Bring your chest up and look forward. Now we’re ready to start.
  • While keeping the emphasis of the work on your front heel, slowly lower your body in a straight line towards the ground. Lower yourself as if you are trying to touch your back knee on the ground.
  • Lower yourself slowly and as far down as you can. Once reaching the lowest point, raise your body by pushing through your front heel.
  • When reaching the highest point (front knee slightly bent), slowly turn around and lower yourself again while your chest is up and you look forward.
  • After performing a full set, switch legs and perform another set.
  • If body weight was easy, hold a dumbbell in each hand and try the exercise again.

You can tell if you’re performing a split squat correctly with a few signs. First, your movement should be straight up and down with minimal side-to-side movement. Second, you should feel both your quadriceps and the back of your butt on the working leg. (This exercise will let you know it’s working). Finally, you should be watching what’s in front of you. If you’re looking at the floor or your shoes, your posture is wrong.

My guess is you’ll want to stop the exercise due to the burning you may feel. Try to perform this exercise until you can barely push yourself up all the way, or until your balance starts to fail (which is not uncommon for muscles as they’re weakened).

Barbell Hip Thrusts

This exercise is effective as it mainly focuses on the glutes, provides a large range of motion, and doesn’t require much help from other muscles (i.e. quadriceps and hamstrings). Also, it’s an extremely effective exercise for recruiting gluteus maximus muscle fibers (Kennedy et al., 2022). In other words, it uses more of your biggest glute muscle.

This is recommended for people who have access to this equipment, plus won’t be bothered by the barbell resting on their hips. It’s not recommended for people with “bony” or sensitive hips or people with a history of lower back pain.

How to do it:

  • Load weights onto a barbell. If you’ve never done this before, starting with a 10- or 25-lb weight on each side will provide some resistance while allowing you to learn proper form.
  • Pad the barbell in the middle. You can do this by rolling a towel or yoga mat around the middle.
  • Lie your body perpendicular to a bench with your shoulder blades resting on the bench.
  • Roll the barbell over your legs to the point where it’s over your pelvic area.
  • Bend your knees, bringing your feet to a position where they are flat on the ground and while your hips are still down and your butt is resting on the ground.
  • Now we’re ready to start. Push your heels into the ground and slowly raise your hips. Push as high up as possible and then hold for two seconds at the highest point.
  • Slowly bring your butt and the bar downward, in a straight line.
  • Briefly tap your butt on the ground, then start the next repetition.

You can tell if it’s done correctly by paying attention to these two signs. One, can you feel your glute muscles? This should be obvious after a few reps. Second, are your hips reaching the height of the bench? If they aren’t getting close, either your form is off or the weight is too heavy.

Perform this exercise until your range of motion is diminished. In other words, you aren’t getting nearly as high as you did when you started the set.

These Glute Exercises Are Easy on the Knees

image of a female doing the leg press with a knee brace on

Because slow-motion strength training is safe on the joints in general; when you apply slow, methodical movements to your weight lifting, virtually any glute exercise will be safe on the knees.

How so?

Slow lifting speed (particularly at the beginning of the rep) eliminates force and momentum which is a common cause of exercise-related injuries (remember Newton’s Second Law of Motion from your physics class in high school?).

Another principle is to avoid locked out joints between the positive and negative phases of the exercise. For example on Leg Press, you don’t want to push far enough to where the legs are fully extended and the knee joint is “locked out.”

At that position, other than some minor balancing being performed by the muscles, the bones are supporting the load; therefore the muscles are doing practically nothing and the majority of stress and strain is placed on the joint.

When It Comes to Training The Glutes…

The most important thing to know about glute workouts is quality over quantity. There are many ways to train your glutes, but you will get great results with 2-3 exercises that are performed 2-3 times per week with an intense effort. Choose 1-2 exercises for the gluteus maximus and one for the smaller two glute muscles. Use a challenging resistance, push to “Muscle Success,” and periodically increase the resistance. This simple approach works better than a plethora of glute exercises with light weights, performed for many sets and reps.

The glutes are important for how we look, feel, and function. We often judge attractiveness by butt shape and size. Also, the glutes support joint health and make fundamental movements easier. Regardless of your exercise-related goals, investing in your glutes is a wise use of your time.

We know strength training is important, but nutrition is also a huge piece of your wellbeing. If you'd like help learning how to implement these new habits alongside your glute workouts, schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email [email protected] to get started.

  • Kennedy, D., Casebolt, J.B., Farren, G.L., Fiaud, V., Bartlett, M., & Strong, L. (2022). Electromyographic differences of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, biceps femoris, and vastus lateralis between the barbell hip thrust and barbell glute bridge. Sports Biomechanics, 1-15.