The Biggest Weakness We See & How To Fix It: Pt. 2

When you look at the dominant position kids spend most of their time in, sitting, it’ll come as no surprise that incredibly weak glutes (butts) and tight hip flexors are the other huge weakness we see in all of our young athletes and teenagers

Shallow squats. Knees that continually collapse on all movements. Pelvic tilts… all the culprits of tight hip flexors and weak glutes. And what’s worse, all place the young athlete and teen at an increased risk of injury while exercising

When you look at the body, and specifically at how we move, our posterior chain (think glutes, hamstrings, lower back) are our strongest muscles and prime athletic movers. Yet because we sit for so much of our days, they completely switch off and deactivate, whilst the hip flexors shorten and tighten in their now more accustomed position. This causes the posterior chain to weaken, and when we go to move, they don’t fire as effectively, causing knees to cave and find themselves in harmful positions

To rectify this, the approach is the same as the one taken to strengthen the upper back - activate, stretch, and strengthen. In this case, we stretch the hip flexors, and activate and strengthen the glutes

The Couch-Stretch - to make it easier, substitute the box for a couch and let the foot rest on it

The Couch-Stretch - to make it easier, substitute the box for a couch and let the foot rest on it

Activate

Our glutes are often like ‘sleeping beauty’, and they need to be woken up before taken through any form of strenuous activity. A few of our favourites include dead bugs, single legged glute bridges, single legged RDL’s, and banded walks. Any form of these should be a staple in the warmup, regardless of the focus of that day's training - and all focus should be directly on firing the glutes and getting them to 'scream'
 

Stretch

The hip flexors are a bit of a tricky one, as too many people stretch their quads, and not the hip flexor itself. These are always, see always, stretched in our recovery period of every session, and are also given as homework for our athletes and teens to do at home. Our favourite way to stretch the hip flexors is a simple couch stretch (sometimes with an added band) - and whenever we do them, we also go 2 minutes per side
 

Deadlifts are a phenomenal way to strengthen to entire posterior chain - just be mindful of maintaining the proper back position and ensuring it DOESN'T look like the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Deadlifts are a phenomenal way to strengthen to entire posterior chain - just be mindful of maintaining the proper back position and ensuring it DOESN'T look like the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Strengthen

Our philosophy is to work the posterior chain every time we see an athlete/teenager. The intensity and volume constantly varies, depending on things such as the time of their season and their fitness level, but regardless of this it also receives some attention and work

Why? Because we have spent so much time sitting, we need to accumulate that time (and more) working on strengthening the posterior chain to rectify the issue. Any form of hip hinge movement pattern is going to do the job here, as will any sort of rep range. The trick is to not complicate things and work on the issue in a simple, progressive manner
 

The Silent Assassin…

Put your hand behind your back. Now wiggle your fingers without looking. Close your eyes, and relax. Focus on your breath… leaving your hand there, and without thinking about it, you know where this hand is, don’t you - you can feel it, without looking

This is called proprioception. Knowing where our bodies are in space, whilst being in an autonomous (automatic) state. And unfortunately, with many adolescents, they don’t have this yet - especially when we’re talking about primal movement patterns… knee’s collapse, backs begin to look like the Sydney Harbour bridge, and shoulders round - all whilst thinking proper positions are being met

The importance and need for correct technique, educating around movement patterns, and feeling the movement cannot be stressed enough within this demographic - especially due to these being their formative years. The potential to solidify and ingrain these patterns, knowledge, and work ethic within them now is something that will benefit them for the remainder of their lives

Key Takeaways:
- Activate the glutes during the warmup
- Strengthen the entire posterior chain with great technique
- Stretch the hip flexors

TrainingNick Maier