Losing muscle mass is a scary concept, but it's harder to do than you think. If you don't have a disease that causes muscle wasting, like HIV, then underuse is the only other explanation for muscle atrophy. After working in the gym to build up your glute muscles, you can maintain your progress by doing a few simple glute exercises.
Who Gets Muscle Atrophy?
Muscular atrophy is when you lose muscle tissue and your muscle shrinks. You don't want to lose muscle if you've been grinding away in the gym to build it up.
Astronauts are one of the most interesting groups to study because they experience a lot of muscle atrophy in space. Without the weight of gravity constantly pulling down on their bodies, they don't need to use their muscles very much. Even though they don't have any medical problems, the lack of effort causes atrophy.
Back on earth, you have gravity constantly pulling on you and forcing you to use your muscles, even if it's just a little bit, every day— that is, unless you're stuck resting in bed from illness or injury.
People with injuries often can't move a certain part of their body during recovery. The pain from the injury can cause you to avoid using muscles in that area for even longer after recovery. For example, having osteoarthritis in one hip can change the way you move to avoid using the opposite glute muscle, according to a 2008 study in Orthopedics and Biomechanics.
Preventing Gluteal Atrophy
Working your glutes even once per week is enough to prevent atrophy and save your precious muscle tissue. You don't even have to do heavy weightlifting exercises; all it takes is a few simple bodyweight movements that are safe, even if you're injured.
This exercise is safe for your back, knees and upper body. You can even do this exercise in bed.
How to: Lie on the ground on your back. Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the ground two feet in front of your butt. Drive through your heels and press your hips up into the air as high as you can. Lower your butt back down to the ground to complete the rep.
Prone Hip Extension
This is another low-impact glute activation exercise that you can do in bed with almost any injury.
Read More: Lie on your stomach with your legs out straight. Cross your arms in front of your and rest your forehead on your forearms. Using your glute muscles, lift your right leg up into the air, keeping your knee straight. Raise it as high as you can and pause for a second, squeezing your glute as hard as you can, then lower it back to the ground and switch sides.
Get your core involved in this glute exercise that uses a large range of motion.
How to: Start on the ground on all fours. Your shoulders should be over your hands and hips over your knees. Slowly reach your right arm straight forward as you kick your left leg straight back. Reach up until your arm and leg are out straight and parallel to the ground. Squeeze your glute at the top and hold that position for a second.
Release your arm and leg back down, and then repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: Hip, thigh and calf muscle atrophy and bone loss after 5-week bedrest inactivity
- Medline Plus: Muscle Atrophy
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Types of Muscular Dystrophy and Neuromuscular Diseases
- NASA: Effect of Prolonged Space Flight on Human Skeletal Muscle (Biopsy) - 11.22.16