Power and the Butt!

The ability to increase power to help sport performance is always on the list of goals for many athletes. Absorbing and reacting to force in your sport allows an athlete to perform at a much higher level. I have touched base on the importance of Hip mobility in previous articles as that plays a role in how well the athlete can increase power and speed. If you do not move well, you cannot perform or train well!

How do the Glutes (butt) play a role in sport performance and function? It decelerates, stabilizes and accelerates the hip in different planes of motion. Skating includes all these movements during heel return and stride pushoff. Not only do you need a hip that moves efficiently in regards to mobility you also need to have strength in all planes of motion to allow an increase in power development.
Most people focus on power development in one plane of motion. (straight ahead/up and down plyometric jumps) What if the limiting factor on-ice is lateral power? How well are you increasing power in side to side and rotational patterns?
A quality training program should look at all of these limiting factors and allow the athlete to understand ground reaction force. This is the force exerted into the body by proper deceleration mechanics into the ground.
When we plant a leg into the ground to stop quickly and change direction, that force from the ground into the body allows us to decelerate and accelerate quickly and efficiently and increase speed, power and quickness. This efficient movement requires a lot of proper mechanics coming from the hip.
Off-ice training such as sled pushes, deadlifts, plyometrics, single leg RDL are just some examples of ways to increase this goal but what if movement mechanics are faulty? What if we cannot decelerate efficiently? What if we lack hip extension? How do we know if the glutes are weak? What if our powerhouse called our “Ass” doesn’t do the job? This is where dysfunction masks results and you will feel “stuck”.

Sound training programs will allow the athlete to create success in each plane of motion but starting with the sagittal plane (front/back) is usually the norm. The attached video shows a single leg glute bridge (The Cook hip lift) that has many benefits. This is a sagittal plane movement.
– It allows the athlete to test & train left and right sides and recognize if there is a weakness between sides.
– It requires good anterior core function to help maintain a stable, neutral pelvis.
– It requires hip flexion on one side with hip extension on the other which brings both sides into the equation.

Exercise setup:
– On your back pull one leg into the chest and place a ball between the bottom of the rib cage and thigh.
– Pull the down leg closer toward the butt and into midline.
– Engage the down glute and lift the hip up while maintaining pressure through the heel/midfoot.
– Avoid letting the rib cage flare/low back arch while lifting. This means you are creating movement through the back and not through the hip.
– Use your breath to maintain a neutral position. Exhaling while lifting and at the top of the position may allow you to keep the rib cage down.
– With the arms along the floor you can press into the ground to create some core tension. This tension helps to “turn on” the anterior core and help stabilize the pelvis.
– The goal is to have a straight line from your shoulders, up through your hip and knee as you extend the hip and lift up.

The athlete may need to start with a double leg bridge and progress to a single leg bridge depending on results from an assessment/movement screen.

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