When your gluteus medius, one of the three major muscles in your buttocks, fails to fire, your butt feels like it's dead. Good news: A dead butt isn't irreversible.
Desk job junkies and those with long driving commutes often develop dead butt syndrome, which is officially known as gluteus medius tendinosis, but so can gym rats and runners who fail to engage their glutes when exercising.
The syndrome is characterized by inflammation of tendons in one of the three muscles in your buttocks, so they ache and throb. It may lead to lower back pain or sore hips as these body parts try to do the work of your inactive booty.
Light a fire under your behind! Teach those muscles to fire with specific exercises. You'll eradicate pain and feel more powerful during a difficult workout.
1. Activated Squat
Squats are the way to activate your glutes, but they pose a conundrum — if your butt is dead, it bows out of the squat, so your quads and lower back take over. To fix this before you squat, locate your gluteus medius, so you can actively tap into it.
HOW TO DO IT: While standing, use your hand to feel around for your sits bones. Consciously contract the muscle there and hold with your hand there to feel the engagement. Repeat 15 to 20 times before you do anything else to activate it.
Now, when you squat, worry less about the size of your barbell and worry more about the squeeze of your tush. Sit back into your heels and really drive them into the ground to keep your emphasis on the back side. Bend your knees and hips as you lower into the squat. Push through your heels as you rise back up to a full stand. Repeat 10 to 20 times, with minimal weight. You're training for function, not bodybuilding.
2. Hip Bridge
Hip bridges help you focus on the squeeze of the gluteus medius.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back and bend your knees. Plant your feet about hip-distance apart. Focus on the muscles of your backside as you lift your hips to create a "bridge" from your knees to your shoulders. Pause for two to three counts and release. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Clamshells activate your glutes from a different direction than linear action such as running, walking and lunging. This helps promote balance in their function and is a vital part of a comprehensive butt-training plan.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your side, bend your knees and stack your hips. Prop your head up on your elbow or lie all the way down on your side. Keep your heels glued together as you open and close the top knee, with the leg hinged at your hip and at your heel. Do 15 to 20 on one side, flip over and perform on the opposite side.
4. Single-Leg Squat
Single-leg exercises were among the top moves for activating the gluteus medius, according to a 2011 study published by researchers from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand in front of a chair or bench. Balance on your right leg and lift your left leg straight out in front of you. Bend your knee and hip to squat down toward the surface of the chair; touch it with your cheek if possible. Push through your heel to straighten back up. Complete 10 to 12 on your right leg, then switch to the left.
5. Single-Leg Deadlift
Single-leg deadlifts also help build up dead glutes. No need to add a lot of weight to this move, but you can hold a 12- to 15-pound dumbbell in one hand for extra challenge.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand and balance on your left leg. Hold the dumbbell, if you're using it, in your right hand hanging in front of your right thigh. Hinge forward over your left shin, allowing your right hand to brush toward your left ankle and your left knee to bend slightly. Stand back up to finish. Try to maintain balance for all 10 to 15 reps, then change legs.