Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

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Posts Tagged ‘glutes’

Tail Wagging

Posted by terrepruitt on March 20, 2014

In Nia we do something we call “wag your tail”. Now there are various ways one can “wag” their tail. This move is not one of Nia’s 52 Moves, but we do it A LOT. One might think that wagging one’s tail just means to shake your butt. But shaking your butt is really just shaking your backside. While that has a purpose in dance when I say “wag your tail” I don’t mean shake your tush. There is a difference. Just like there is a difference between shaking your chest/breast and a shimmy. A shimmy is not just shaking your chest or what you have on it. A shimmy is using the muscles in your upper back and shoulders to push and pull your shoulders. While the front might shake as you shimmy, the sensation is entirely different from just shaking what’s on the front. For more info you can read my post Shimmy From The Back. With the tail wag it is somewhat the same thing — in the sense that you are not shaking your butt you are wagging your tail.

The focus is the very bottom portion of your bony spine, the coccyx — your tail. When you wag your tail the outer portion of your body, your glutes/your butt is going to move and shake, just like when you shimmy your chest/breast will shake, but that is not the focus. And believe me, I have ample of both to know the sensation is entirely different. 🙂

For many this is not something they sense right away. It is one of those things you practice. I know many belly dancers who hold classes just on shimmying . . . So by comparison shaking top and/or bottom is different from a shimmy and/or a wag of the tail.

One way I describe it to my students is to just relax the spine. Let the hips hang and then wag the tail. Some understand this and are able to do it. While it might take practice, when they focus they can do it, hips hanging tail wagging. If you can do this the sensation is amazing. It is a HUGE release to the spine. It is very relaxing. Wagging the tail is one of my favorite moves. Ask anyone on my Nia classes and they will tell you, “Yeah, she says that all the time.”

I recently posted about how my students are my teachers and one thing they taught me was to come up with a different way of explaining “letting your hips hang”. The looks I received recently while having my students practice wagging their tail was, “I am not getting what you are saying!!!” So I had to think about it and I came up with something.

Sit down on the ground with your legs out in front of you. Then use your hands to push yourself off the ground. Your lower legs and feet can still be touching but you want your tush to be off the ground. Now relax your spine. Do you sense that hanging sensation? THAT is what you are going for while standing. That is what will enable you to wag your tail.

So try it. Can you sense your hips hanging? Can you sense the difference between wagging your tail and shaking your bum?

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Review The Plank Form

Posted by terrepruitt on March 12, 2013

Let’s do a little form check on our planks.  We are doing our month of daily planks (and beyond?) on our elbows/forearms.  Let’s review how we are doing them.

–Rest on elbows and forearms
–Upper arm bones come straight down, so elbows should be directly under the shoulders
–Elbows are shoulder width apart, elbows are directly under the shoulders
–Shoulder blades are pulled down (putting them in your back pockets)
–Face is facing down, eyes looking at the earth (assisting with proper head alignment)
–Head is in line with shoulders, hips, knees, and feet
–The entire spine is straight
–Hips are not bowing up or sagging down (part of the “alignment” is that they are doing neither)
–Muscles are squeezing and active; abdominals, glutes, qudriceps
–Rest on the toes, heels off the ground
–Feet are in open stance, which is hip JOINT width apart*

*As with many exercises there are variations and modifications, but for this plank challenge we are keeping our feet in open stance.  (For an “open stance” reminder, click here)  With the feet in open stance it encourages the hips to stay in alignment.  Also in open stance your bones are in alignment with your joints.

Try doing the plank with your feet apart (like in “A” stance) and you might notice how much “easier” it is for the hips to start to sag down.

If you are still learning and really want to focus on form, doing the plank on your knees is always another option.  If you are doing the plank on your knees the stance is the same.  The knees are straight out from your hip joints just as if you were standing in open stance.  Your feet are also in “open stance”.

Be very conscious of your arm bones.  You want to make certain they are perpendicular to the floor.  Don’t allow your toes to push you forward.  Check to see that your shoulders are directly over your elbows.  An idea that might help with this is to press back with your heels.  Your heels are in the air but imagine the bottoms of your heels are reaching out to press against something.  This also helps with activating your thigh muscles, while on your toes.  If you are doing the modified plank on your knees you can still press with your heels you just would not be using your thigh muscles to help.

As with all exercise remember to breathe.  How you breathe is up to you, if panting helps you, then pant, if slow inhales and fast exhales help you, then do that.  Breathe however it is best for you, but don’t hold your breath.  Your muscles need oxygen so give it to them.

Remember to keep your form every time and through out the duration of your plank.  If your form starts to “suffer” then stop.  No use doing a minute of “planking” if your bum is high in the air or your hips are on the ground. Let’s make sure we are doing quality over quantity.  So every time you plank, review your form!

Do you have any questions?  Is this clear for you?

Posted in Exercise and Working Out, Planking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Frogs Not Just Slimy Amphibians

Posted by terrepruitt on December 1, 2011

Wet, slimy, noisy, some say even tasty.  No, I am not talking about frogs the amphibians. There is an exercise I learned in Pilates I know as Frogs.  I can’t think of a move we do in Nia that is comparable.  You lie on your back with your legs in the air.  Your heels touch, toes out, feet flexed like in first position, your thighs are squeezing.  Then you bend your knees, then straighten them as if you are jumping like a frog. This can be a somewhat big bend or a little pulse-type movement.  Concentrate on keeping the heels together, your feet flexed, and your thigh muscles tight.   Make sure you squeeze really tight when your legs are straight.  This is one of those exercises where bigger is not necessarily better.  The little pulses really compel you to squeeze your legs.

You can add another element to the exercise if you would like, by lowering your legs to any degree.  Another way to adjust this exercise besides lowering your legs is by making it more challenging by adding resistance tubing or a resistance band.  You would hold the resistance band in both hands and secure the band around your heels/feet then do the same frog leg jumping motion.

This exercise is a great workout for the legs.  With your feet flexed and heels touching you might sense your gastrocnemius and soleus, the muscles of the calves.  You will probably sense the stretch.  The lower leg muscles that are on the front of your legs are the ones you will probably sense most.  These are the ones really working to keep your foot flexed.  The  anterior tibial is the main muscle used in dorsiflexion, which is flexing your foot towards your shin.  Another muscles used in dorsiflexion is the extensor hallucis longus.  So these muscles will get a great workout.

Really pushing through your heels and straightening your legs stretches the calves as well as the hamstrings.  People with tight hamstrings might have to practice a bit in order to get their legs straight.  Even though it is not the hamstrings that straighten the leg, when they are tight, the legs cannot always straighten.  The hamstrings are the muscles that will work to bend the knee.

Now the main muscles that you will sense in this exercise are the quadriceps.  These large muscles in your upper leg will be the ones that are helping you to keep your legs together.  While you are doing this exercise you really want to concentrate on keeping your thighs together.  squeeze them together.  This squeezing is ONE of the ways this exercise works the thighs.  It also works the thighs when you straighten the legs.  The quadriceps are the ones that will also straighten the leg.

Since you are going to be flexing the knees and hips and rotating the thigh outward you are going to be working the sartorius.  This muscle starts at the outside of the hip and crosses over the thigh bone and inserts in at the inner part of the tibia, the bone below the knee.  This muscles crosses over two joints.

If you are really squeezing your legs this will also work your glutes.  This exercise can even allow the abs to get in on the fun.

This is a great lower body exercise.  It allows for so many muscles to be worked.  As with many exercises it can be done a variety of ways to increase the challenge.  So did you get down on the floor and try it in the middle of reading this?  I am sure that your co-workers would understand.  🙂

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Squats

Posted by terrepruitt on June 9, 2011

Squats are good for the legs, especially glutes and quadriceps.  There are a lot of ways to do a squat.  For my ten minute workout we are just doing a non-fancy squat.  The original design of this exercise in the workout is to do it on a BOSU.  The rounded side of the BOSU is on the ground and you stand on the flat side.  Adding the BOSU in the mix allows for more work to be required of the full leg and ankles.  It is great balance practice.  A squat is a lowering of the entire body as if you are going to sit down.  Only lower down to about sitting-in-chair height.  Butt “reaching” back for the “chair”.  Then come back up to standing.  For these squats have your feet from hip-joint-width to shoulder width apart.

I feel it is important for one to be able to sit and stand without having use your arms to support yourself.  Squats are one way to ensure you can move up and down without help.

What do you want to know?

Posted in Ten Minute Workout (Posts) | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Long Lunges

Posted by terrepruitt on June 4, 2011

We do lunges in Nia all the time. We call them the “bow stance”.  Different Nia routines have different “lunges”.  Sometimes we do them fast, sometimes slow. Sometimes the music allows us to do a deep lunge, sometimes it might just be a shallow or a high one. Lunges are great for the quadriceps and glutes. In my original design of my Ten Minute Workout I wanted the concentration to be in the glutes, so I decided to do a long lunge. A long lunge gets the backside more.

Holding weights down at your sides adds to the work your leg and butt muscles have to do. Standing up from the long step requires much more effort. As a reminder only step as far as will allow you to stand back up. Also be certain that in addition to being able to stand back up you are stable, so your legs are wide enough that you cannot be easily pushed over.

As you step out also remember that it is a controlled step. The foot that is stepping out should land softly and not in a stomp. These do not need to be done fast.  When including this exercise in the ten minute workout I was thinking of a long controlled step.  The movement is solid and fluid.

The foot that remains stationary ends up with the heel raised (completely vertical if you can get there), weight on the ball of the foot and toes.  Since this is a long lunge, the stationary leg could end up with the knee almost on the ground or on the ground.

The idea is to step one leg out then back, then the other leg steps out then back. Alternate legs, each step out is “one”. There are other ways to do lunges, modifications that can be made, but for now, this is the explanation of the exercise chosen to be included in this ten minute workout. Eventually I will post some information on different ways to do the lunges.

What questions do you have about the long lunges?

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Core Muscles

Posted by terrepruitt on February 16, 2010

You can look up “core muscles” and find that different people include different muscles in the group considered the “core muscle group”.  But unless you are going to get that specific and train just one muscle in the group then you really don’t need to figure out which person is right.  It would serve you just as well to do a variety of exercises that strengthen your “core” and more than likely you are going to be working the various different sets that the different people are including in the “core muscle group”.  What can help is to think of the “core” not just as the abdominals.  That is very limiting.  If you think of the core as center from which you need to be strong and stable then you will possibly have a larger picture of what the core is and understand that it is more than just your abdominals.

You need a strong center to be stable and balanced while you are manipulating your limbs.  If you keep that in mind you might realize that it is the back of your body as well as the front AND extending further down your legs than you first might have realized.

Doing a variety of crunches and sit-ups, including V-sit-ups and side crunches, will work your abdominals.  Wood chops help with the entire trunk area.  Push-ups are great because they require you to keep your abs tight for a great workout of them.

Bridges (lying on the floor and pushing your pelvis up), work the lower back muscles as well as the hips and glutes.

Lunges are great because they work your quadriceps and glutes.  If you put some trunk twist into it with or without a weight you are adding another dimension to it and getting your trunk area.

Squats can help as they get the quads and glutes too.

Exercises that require you to balance yourself are going to help you with all those stabilizing muscles.  These will strengthen your “core” as well as keeping it trained and at the ready for you when you need them to stabilize you.

So, do you really need to know that in a squat you are using your multifidus and quadratus lumborum (among other muscles) or does it just help to know that if you do them you are strengthening muscles that will assist you in having a strong a stable core?  I believe it is good just to think about the “core muscles” as being the groups and groupings of muscles from the top of your chest down to your knees, front and back.

Posted in Core Muscles, Muscles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »