Got Glutes?

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1 Leg Kettlebell Deadlift. SteveCotterIKFF

The gluteals, or butt muscles, are for more than holding up your pants or attracting a mate. The buttocks consist of three muscles working together: the gluteus maximal, gluteus medial, and the gluteus minimus muscles.

The glutes form the central piece of the all-important “Posterior Chain,” which also includes the hamstrings in the back of the legs, lower back muscles and the other muscles of the rear side of the body.

These posterior chain muscles working in harmony help to maintain a healthy, upright posture and are involved in balancing the body both statically (in one position) and dynamically (multiple planes of motion). Additionally, having a strong rear end is important for maintaining a healthy, pain-free lower back.

Kettlebell 1 Leg Dead Lift

A simple yet effective exercise for simultaneously strengthening and toning the butt muscles and improving balance is the Kettlebell 1 Leg Dead Lift. 

Here is how to do it:

  • Place a kettlebell on the floor in front of you
  • Stand on 1 leg with the standing leg straight (no bend in the knee) and the other leg bent so that the foot is off the ground; if at any point during the exercise you start to lose balance, simply touch the free-floating leg lightly to the floor to regain balance
  • With your hands hanging down in front of you, fold at the waist by pushing back with your hips (as if about to sit on a chair) and allowing your upper body to move forward
  • Keep the support (balancing) leg straight or allow a slight, gentle bend to the knee
  • Keep folding forward until your fingers reach the kettlebell handle, then grab the handle by wrapping your fingers around it 
  • Complete the movement by pulling with the muscles of the backside of your body—the hamstrings and butt muscles
  • The 1 Leg Dead Lift is complete when your body is completely upright and the support leg is fully extended. Make sure to finish the full range of motion by pushing your hips forward at the top of the movement, so that your butt muscles are firm 
  • Take a slight pause to assure you have full control of your balance, then lower the KB back to the floor under control

Start with 5 repetitions per leg with a light to moderate load, then gradually increase first the number of sets.

Tips

A good rule of thumb is to perform 5 sets or 5 repetitions per leg in this exercise, then progress to a slightly heavier kettlebell and repeat the process.

An alternative way to practice the 1 Leg Dead Lift is to use 2 kettlebells instead of 1. This will increase the total load you are lifting, so make sure you are first confident and competent with a single kettlebell before progressing to the Double kettlebell 1 Leg Dead Lift. 

Another way to increase the challenge without increasing the load is to perform the 1 Leg Dead Lift with eyes closed.

By closing your eyes, you remove the visual input, making the muscles have to work harder to keep you balanced. 

Single leg exercises, like the 1 Leg Deadlift, increase glute activation because of the increased balance demand from standing on 1 leg instead of 2. With the improved balance developed by regular practice of the 1 Leg Deadlift, you will not only tone and strengthen your glutes, but also increase general athleticism and ease of movement in daily activities. 

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