I was sitting in a yoga philosophy class with a fellow yogi whilst doing a recent yoga teacher training in India.  We began talking about our strong areas and our weak areas, which muscles were easily accessible to us and which we had difficulty accessing.  As a Pilates lover, I have more ease firing up the muscles on my backside.  My fellow yogi, being quadricep dominant has a hard time targeting her “bum” muscles.

The reality is that someone who is posteriorly tilted, will have long hip flexors, a tucked pelvis, making the bum flatten and the ability to open hips. The anteriorly tilted pelvis will struggle with hip openers, but have a round bum as their pelvis is tipped forward.

Let’s face it, yoga definitely tones the quadriceps as you hold poses for a length of time.  Chances are that if you’re really strong in the quads, you have difficulty accessing the deep muscles of your glutes.
When she confessed that she would love to be able to strengthen her “backside”, I jumped at the opportunity to showcase my skills as a Pilates instructor and how Body Harmonics helped me understand how to help my clients fire up this often dormant side.
She tried out my little sequence and by the end was amazed to feel the deep gluteus maximus activate.  Tried, tested and true, I have decided to share my little sequence with Shoptalk readers should you ever come across an individual facing the same crisis.
Here’s my “bum activation” sequence!
This sequence takes no longer than 10 minutes and it’s easily inserted into any class plan or private session.  The best part of it is when you get the client or yourself to experience the desired “feel factor”.
Test with a squat
First, stand with both feet at hip bone distance apart, soften the knees and lower yourself down in a squat.  Squats will tell you right away if you are quad or glute dominant as it will be the muscle that will fire up first.  Once you’ve determined that you’re the right candidate for this little series, keep going with the next step.
Standing step up onto raised surface
Start standing with a yoga block under the right foot.  The foot should be flat on the block (length wise). Step up with the left foot so that both feet are level and step down.  Keep repeating this motion 15 times.
 2-Foot Lift & Lower
Standing toe taps – straight, lateral & medial
Stop on the 15th and keep both feet level – the right one on the block, the left one next to it floating. Start to tap the toes down to the floor with the left foot.
Keep tapping for 30 counts, then start to move the “tapping” foot in a windshield wiper motion left to right as you tap down to the ground for another 30 counts.
 3-Toe Taps-reg + in & out

Standing hip abduction & adduction

Finally, keeping the left foot level to the right, start to abduct the left leg out to the side. 10 to 15 of these will be more than most people could handle.
Back to the squat – time to retest
Step down from the block. Resume squatting position and ask yourself/client if they can feel their “buttocks” on the right side (the one that was on the block).  Guaranteed to get a “yes” and a look of utter amazement that they can feel their elusive gluteus maximus! Repeat with left foot on block.
What you should expect
What happens is when you start the exercise, you slowly fire the gluteus medius, the kicker happens when you start to abduct the leg as this fires glute med, but also upper fibres of gluteus maximus, the big muscle that lifts the bum.  Seeing as they’re now inter-connected, they start to talk to each other.
Connect the brain and body
Always do the squat at first, in between sides, and at the end so that the mind assimilates the connection that the body is achieving. Once the mind and the body both understand the concept, it will stay ingrained and over time, the deep muscles of your posterior will learn to fire up on their own, it’s just like waking up a hibernating bear.
Guaranteed to “uplift” your spirits and your bum!


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Jocelyne Gouin Pilates

Author: Jocelyne Pelchat

Jocelyne Pelchat is a Pilates teacher and founder of The Cornerstone Pilates in Burlington. She has a Body Harmonics Comprehensive Pilates diploma (Levels I, 2 and 3 training) as well as specializations in bio-mechanics and post-rehab exercises for shoulder, spine, hips, knees and more. Jocelyne is also a Level II ELDOA Instructor and has completed a 200hr-yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India.

“I love to teach and believe that Pilates and movement are the gateway to feeling good, being pain-free and for ongoing optimal health.”