The average American spends 8 to 10 hours a day in a chair staring at a computer, before hopping in the car to drive home, where the couch and up to three hours of TV and chill time awaits.
That's a total of 14 hours per day in a seated position. This period of inactivity gives the gluteal muscles a great opportunity to shut down and stop firing.
And while cycling does allow you to get up and exercise away from your desk chair, it's also in a seated position.
The problem with spending prolong periods of time in a seated position is that your hips spend hours in flexion. Hip flexion occurs any time your chest and knees are brought closer together. Hip extension happens when they are moved farther apart.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle responsible for hip extension, and it can generate a lot of power when it's working properly. On the bike, hip extension happens during the downstroke. If your glutes aren't firing properly, you won't be able to produce maximum power output.
When the gluteus maximus doesn't do its job, the supporting muscles are forced to step in and help out. The low back, for instance, compensates for lack of gluteal activation and tries to do hip extension instead. This often results in low back pain and other repetitive overuse injuries.
To combat this situation, make sure your gluteal muscles are turned on and firing properly before you head out for a ride. To make sure you're producing as much power as possible, follow these three simple ways to get your glutes activated.
Sit on a foam roller or a tennis ball. Slowly rock back and forth along the upper and lower insertion points of the gluteus maximus. The upper insertion point is along the top of the hip (right below belt line) and into the gluteal fold. The lower insertion point is on the bottom, outside portion of the buttock. If you find a tender spot, hold the position and gently apply pressure. Rock back forth 10 to 15 times to achieve maximum muscle stimulation. Repeat on the other side.
2. Isometric Contraction
Lay on your back with your legs straight along the ground. Keep your entire body relaxed and gently push your right heel into the ground while contracting your right gluteus maximus. Hold this contraction for six seconds and repeat six times. Do the same contraction repetition on the left side once complete.
Lay on your back with your right leg straight. Bend the left knee and place your foot flat on the ground. Squeeze your left glute and lift your hips and right leg off of the ground. Work to keep the hips level and lift as high as you can before returning to the start position. You should feel this in your left glute and hamstring. Repeat 15 to 20 times, then switch.
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