Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
For too many guys, the ideal workout is focused on the upper body only, totally ignoring our lower bodies. Every day I see my many of my peers walk into the gym and jump on the chest press, move on to other upper body exercises, then pack it in until next time. But the lower body needs attention too, especially when you’re older and trying to stay physically active. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of tennis, and all the back and forth on the court puts quite a demand on my legs. One exercise I use to help me to build strength and focus on each leg at a time is the single-leg hip thrust. The exercise targets your glutes, which are essential to keep your pelvis aligned and take pressure off your lower back and hips.
But before you get ready for the single-leg hip thrust, it’s best to master the more standard bilateral version of the exercise first. Find a weight bench or another comparable platform (your couch can even work if you’re at home). Sit on the floor with your shoulder blades pressed against the bench and your feet flat on the floor, a little wider than shoulder width apart, with your knees bent. Lock your eyes on a wall or object in front of you and keep them on that spot during the exercise. Squeeze your glutes as tight as possible to drive your hips upward into a bridge position, with your upper legs and back parallel to the floor. Your knees should be bent at 90-degrees and your shins perpendicular to the floor. Squeeze your abs and glutes as tight as possible for a few seconds, then lower back down to the floor.
After perfecting that movement, you’re ready to move on to the single-leg hip thrust. For this version the set up is slightly different with your feet closer together, so they are in line with your upper body. Lift your right foot off the floor. From this point, drive your hips up and squeeze at the top. Then, lower back down to the floor.
As you’re doing the single-leg hip thrust, your core must work harder to fight for stability, so anti-rotation is a factor. You don’t want the hip of your elevated leg to dip. Your hips must remain square throughout the repetitions. Lastly, don’t be too concerned about how high you raise your hips. If you’re like me and have tight hip flexors, most likely they will be slightly below shoulder and knee height at the top position of the single leg hip thrust. To start, try 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions with each leg, with a 3-second glute squeeze in the top position.
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