The gluteus (aka glutes, booty, behind, butt, etc) is undeniably a powerful and good looking muscle. We often pay attention to the gluteus of other people and forget ours. Your optimal performance and injury-free tennis often depends on in what shape your gluteus is.
Is it strong, flexible, powerful and firing during all your athletic movements? Or is it weak, loose, stretched out, “lazy” (it is not helping during your movements) and maybe even a little bit too fatty instead of muscular?
Look at yourself and your gluteus and honestly decide whether it needs some extra work.
If you are getting small aches and injuries in your knees, ankles, shoulders, lower back and other places, the chance is that your gluteus is not functioning well and you need to get it back in shape.
For the next month, focus on training your glutes more than you normally do. Try to train them 3–4 times per week. See the results for yourself after this one-month experiment. Not just that you will look so much better with a round strong bubble butt, but your tennis game will improve. You will feel more powerful in your movement and you most probably will feel better as well because the little aches will go away.
Focus on many isolation exercises so you can “find” the gluteus muscle and feel how it is firing during the moment. Focus on feeling it. If you don’t feel it, keep searching and stay 100% focused. Once you learn how to fire it during the movement, you will reach another level of enjoyment and performance.
Squats for strong glutes
Squats are the King (or Queen?) of the exercises to build a strong and powerful booty. The legs will benefit too. If you don’t have time to do any other exercise, just do squats and you will be impressed how fast you develop your strength and great lower body. Make sure your technique is good. Also pay attention so the left and right side movement would be symmetrical. Many imbalances that tennis players have carry over into your fitness routine and instead of correcting them, you will further promote them.
Stand straight with feet hip-width apart. You can squat without any weights, with weights in your hands or with a barbel on your shoulders. Imagine a chair far behind you and you want to reach it with your glutes. Start sinking low, keep your chest and head up, and stick your glutes out toward the imaginary chair. Do not round your back. Sink as deep as you can and push yourself up to standing position focusing on connecting with the glutes. On the top, squeeze your glutes for extra stimulation. Do 15–20 repetitions.
Deadlifts with straight legs
Another great and powerful exercise for the booty and hamstrings, and especially the glute-ham tie-in. Stand straight and hold the weight(s) in your hands on the sides or in front of you. Think about hinging in your hips, not bending in your back. Now with a straight upper body and shoulder blades squeezed together, hinge in the hip and let the weights sink low in front of you, close to your legs. Keep your legs as straight as possible, feel how the hamstrings and glutes are stretching. When you reach the bottom position, squeeze the glutes and hamstrings and raise yourself up (as a hip hinge) in an explosive manner. Squeeze the glutes on the top of the movement. You can also do this exercise on one leg, where the other leg moves back and up behind your body, staying in one line with your upper body. It will challenge your balance as well. Do 15—20 repetitions.
Lunges walking forward, lunges in one place stepping backward, lunges stepping sideways, lunges stepping forward and back… all imaginable variations of lunges are great, but you have to focus on your glutes. Always try to feel them when you step and sink low. Fire the movement from the heel of the bent leg and the glutes of the bent leg. That should be your primary focus. If you feel too much in your quadriceps, then you are not focusing and firing your glutes enough. Do 15–20 lunges per side.
It is almost like a lunge that you do stationary, laying on your side in a leg press machine. Fold the bottom leg under you and put the upper leg on the leg press platform. Now start bending the leg and resist the weight with your glute muscles as much as you can. Pause on the bottom position, fire the glutes and push through the heel to lift the weight up in an explosive manner. Repeat for 15–20 repetitions.
Stand close to a step or bench and put the right foot on a top of it. Step up on the bench, driving through the right heel and the glute. On a top, bring the left knee high up to your chest and squeeze the right glute. Step down with the left leg, controlling the movement with your right glute. Stay close to the bench at all times, so the movement is vertical rather than forward and back. Do 15–20 repetitions on each side.
Lie down on your back, bend your legs and bring your feet close to your glutes. From here fire your glutes and lift them high up toward the sky. Squeeze the glutes on the top of the movement. Repeat at least 20 times.
To increase the difficulty, lift one leg off the ground and use just one leg for 15–20 repetitions, then switch side.
For another level of difficulty, add a weight plate on your hips. If you are in the gym, put a heavy bar across your hips. You can also do this movement in a horizontal hamstrings curl machine where you lay on the machine with your stomach up and hips stuck under the pad that goes behind your calves during the curls. You sink the hips and then push them up against the resistance of the machine. Always squeeze the glutes on the top of the movement. Read the previous article about glute bridges here…
Go down on all fours, kneeling and supporting yourself on your hands. Lift one leg and kick it high up in the air behind you. Do at least 20 repetitions and focus on feeling the glutes. You can add weight or a resistance band to your ankles. Read the previous article here…
You can do these butt kicks standing.
You can do them in a cable machine or specific machine called “butt blaster”.
Side walk (monster walk)
Put a rubber band around your ankles, get into a low stance, and start walking sideways. Keep the tension on the band at all times. Make sure your feet are parallel and that you don’t drag one of your feet (it will want to drag). Walk at least 20 steps one way, and then back.
An effective exercise to create explosive power in your hips. Make sure your technique is correct. Use a kettlebell heavy enough so it prevents you from “muscling” the movement. The arms and hands should be relaxed and the movement of the bell is created by exploding with your hips and making the kettlebell move up and then let the gravity bring it back down between your legs. Another hip thrust will shoot it up again. Keep your core engaged at all times. Don’t round your back. Breathe at each swing. Do 1-minute intervals (about 35 swings) for 5–10 sets.
Did you enjoy the article and wish to invest into your fitness for tennis? Maybe the “Tennis Fitness for the Love of it” can help you to get started. Get your glutes strong and see your tennis game transform.