Regular readers of this site know that I am a proponent of High-Intensity Training (HIT) and that the bodyweight approach I discuss the most is the Hillfit program. As great as that routine is there is one exercise in it that I never got many benefits from the Hip Extension. I tooled around with the different variations, but over time started doing it less and less as I didn’t feel I was getting any benefit. Then I hurt my knee and stopped doing it completely.
A year ago I posted on Foundation Training. Whereas Hillfit is a program of safely designed static hold movements that require very little skill to perform, Foundation Training is the movement equivalent. Much like HIT, Foundation Training is time-efficient, focuses on building strength and the movements are easy to learn.
I see Hillfit as a way to build strength that I can apply to any endeavor. I see Foundation Training as a way to undo the damage of modern life in minimal time.
By that, I mean limited movement and the hours we spend every day sitting at a desk, in a car, or in front of a TV. The movements used in Foundation Training are in my opinion time-efficient ways to reverse what sitting is doing to our body. I tried a standing desk. Didn’t care for it. Foundation Training works better for me.
Back in February in the post Body Language and Exercise Warm-Up, I mentioned that I always do Windmills before lifting. Foundation Training has a Windmill in it that was slightly different than the one I had been doing. It involves sitting further back before bending forward. Doing this stretched my hamstrings more and there some glute activation. That is when the light bulb went off. Instead of doing Windmill repetitions like in the Foundation Training routine, I’d use static holds like Hillfit.
The best glute exercise I’ve ever done and it only takes 90 seconds.
Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence by Dr. Eric Goodman. I have not seen the Kindle version, but I can’t imagine it displaying the images as nicely as the paperback edition.
The Static Windmill
I’m sure someone somewhere has stumbled onto this exercise and named it. Probably in a yoga routine. But I am unaware if they did. So for now I’ll be naming this movement The Static Windmill.
The most important part of this exercise is not the Windmill part, but the bend forward. Forget the old way of touching your toes. Widen your stance a little, stick your ass back, and now with a bend in your knees drop your hands to the ground about 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) in front of your feet. Hold this.
What you should feel is a stretch in your hamstrings and your glute muscles firing. If you don’t, you’ll need to “dial it in”. That is an espresso term for adjusting the grinder so the shot speed is perfect. We are all different, so our stances, the knee bend, and where our hands are will be different. Your goal is to dial in where you feel that tension. This is a similar concept to Hillfit, in that those exercises are held at the point where the most muscle fibers are engaged. Same concept here.
Once you think you have the spot, try driving your heels into the ground. This will tell you if you’ve dialed it in. You should feel increased gluteal muscle activation. If you do, you are on target. Now hold this for 30 seconds.
The first time you do this, I suggest stopping here. Don’t even do the Windmill part yet. I always ease into any new exercise.
Once you’ve done the 30-second hold, lift your left hand and twist your torso to the left into a windmill pose. Using your left hand, point to the sky. You’ll now notice your left glute is working harder. Now force your left heel down and you’ll really feel it. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to where you started and repeat the same movement on the right side.
That is it. Brief, intense, effective, and safe.
Before You Start
You could jump into the Static Windmill directly, but it might be wise to learn the principles of Foundation Training first. There is a 12-minute video on YouTube that is a great overview. Don’t do it all the first time. Start with a few minutes and then return to it in a few days and go a little longer. If you get a lot of value as I did from this clip, consider getting the full DVD which is available on the Foundation Training website. I bought version one of the DVD. Version two is out now, which I understand is even better.