I just finished looking through some pictures from a Fitness contest, and as the man I am I was of course looking at the derrière of the ladies. - Oh come on ladies you stare at ours to! The one thing that hit me again, as it always does, was that even where the contestants had well developed glutes and hams and had a low percentage of body fat, they very often still lacked that great glute/ham tie-in. The gluteals fold where too prominent in many cases. (The gluteal fold is the fold between the gluteus maximus and your hamstring to clear things out for those who need to be enlightened.)
Of course you can look great anyways, but if you are already setting aside a substantial amount of time on training, then why not use some of it in order to “correct” this minor imperfection?
I find that this is a problem more commonly occurring with athletes lacking a genuine athletic background, while the ones with the least problems are former gymnast and track and field athletes. For me this is not a surprise as both of these groups have a history of having done a lot of sprint type training. The kind of training that will put your hams and glutes to work in synergism during hip movement, the way they are intended to in the first place.
So you guessed it!? When a fitness contestant comes to me for help with this or to get ready for a show, sprint training is the order of the day!
Not only does it improve your glute/ham tie-in it also does the following:
* Improves neuro – muscular connection
* Balances out Quad/Ham imbalance
* Increases EPOC, which will lead to greater fat loss
* Strengthens your core
A word of caution first! If you are inexperienced or have been off-season from this type of training for a long time, please ease into it. Start with doing only one part of the program to begin with and then slowly add to it. And to all of you – please warm up properly! I am going to share with you a little secret here to get even more out of this, which in turn will even add to your progress in the gym when training hams and glutes.
- Stretch your hip flexors thoroughly before the session! This to ensure your ability to use your glutes and hams to the max, as shortened hip flexors is another reason for poor glute/ham tie-ins – but that is for another article…
So let’s go to work. You will start of with the 40 yard dash in a slight up-hill; this is to engage even more glute/ham involvement. You should start with 5 sets and gradually build up to 10 sets and keep your rest periods at 75-90seconds - we don’t want complete recovery but at the same time you need to be able to run at near maximum speed at every set!
A short note about form here, try to stay as erect as possible when sprinting and use your legs to drive you forward. If you need a more thorough explanation on how to sprint, please just contact me.
After about a 180 seconds worth of rest it is time for the famous Borzov jump. For those few of you who don’t now about this movement read on, you happily few who do, go to the progression for it right away.
The Borzov jump
The Borzov jump is a great exercise for developing explosive power. Technically it should be called a hop rather than a jump being a single leg exercise, but we have always called it a jump and will continue to do so. Legend has it that the exercise was used by the great Valery Borzov, the Russian sprinter who won Olympic gold for his country in the 100m. The strength of the exercise lies in the fact that it involves so many movements that assist with speed and agility development.
And for those of you who are after muscle development it includes ankle extensions for the calves, knee extensions for your quads, as giving your glutes and hams a heavy challenge by all those hip extensions. However, it is a relatively advanced exercise, and is suitable only for those with at least one year of plyometric training, so I strongly suggest that you use the progression I lay out for you.
* Level 1
Just perform a rapid single leg squat, with the same action as the Borzov jump but without leaving the ground (2-4 sets of 6-12 reps for each leg, with a 75-90 sec rest.)
* Level 2
As above, but only perform a half effort jump into the air, just slightly drawing the knee up to the chest (set and reps as above)
* Level 3
Do the full Borzov jump as seen above, but with a rest in between each rep (set and reps as above)
* Level 4
Continuous jumps as seen above (4 sets of 4-8 each leg and you will really know about it!)
And for the finale, hurdle jumps. Space out 5 hurdles with enough space in between them to be able to jump freely up and down over them, without hitting your knees in the hurdle or dragging the hurdle with you when trying to get over it! Set the height of the hurdle at a height that challenges you. If you are unsure just set it a little lower and work your way up from there. Perform 2 rounds of 2-4 sets with 75-90 seconds rest.
For you out there who train for speed and/or to improve your jumping ability, this is not the program for you! This is a bastardization of track training to improve amongst other things the glute/ham tie-in. But for you who are willing to give this a try, it might even give you a chance to show off your assets, while sprinting away from the competitors..!
© Magnus Agren 2007