As promised, here are some ways to help your child develop strong gluts (a.k.a. Buns of Steel).
1. As a baby the best thing for them is to be on their belly. (Check out ‘Tummy Time: What’s the Big Deal?‘ and ‘Strategies for Tummy Time‘ if you need help with this) As they begin to lift their head against gravity they begin to work muscles all down their back including their gluts. Sometimes it can look like they are doing superman by lifting their arms and legs off the floor at the same time. Every time they lift their head or begin to push up they contract all their extensor muscles.
2. Another way to begin building strong tush muscles is to have them lift their tush up while laying on their back. A really easy way to incorporate this is while they are having their diaper changed or you are getting them dressed and need to get something under their bottom. The most frequent term used for this activity is ‘bridging’. To really challenge them as they get older and can understand, is to have them try to hold their bottom up for longer periods of time. Its even harder if you aren’t holding their feet to stabilize them. A fun way to incorporate this into playtime is to have them lift their bottom for a car to drive under or a parade of animal toys to go under (pretty much anything can go under as long as you make it interesting for them)! Here is a picture (not a kid unfortunately) so you have an idea of the movement I am talking about.
3. Now this next one is a catch-22. Its climbing. This is one of the best ways for your kids to get stronger gluts. Its a catch-22 because its so good for their muscles but yet parents are often worried about their kids learning to climb because then they can get into more things! Just make sure you are with them because in a continuing education course I took, they described climbing as a kids job – it was that good for them! Start having them crawl up stairs and then you can use a step stool and the couch. You can practice with them getting in and out of their car seat or in and out of their chairs/high chairs. You can use ladders at the park, or kids play structures, or even those mini rock walls. The key is to have them practice leading with different legs so that both legs get worked out! I will do a whole other post on the joys of climbing in the future, so make sure you look for it!
4. Another fun one is knee walking and high kneeling. I like to have the kids pretend they are a train when they are walking on their knees. Usually I will pick a toy that has lots of pieces (like a shape sorter) and have them go from one side of the room to the other to put the pieces in. Its amazing how it will hold their attention! To do high kneeling you can have them reach up high for a piece you are holding so that their bottom has to leave their heels. Once they get the piece they can relax back down onto their heels and put the piece in the toy. Here are some photos to help you visualize what the heck I am talking about! The first one is knee walking and it is done in the high kneeling position (ok, you have to imagine that they are moving because my still camera didn’t quite capture the walking part). The second one shows a child in short kneeling (with their bottom on their heels) and a child in high kneeling (with their bottom lifted up so their hips are straight).
5. Another option is to have them do squats. I know this sounds funny but its actually pretty easy, even for the little ones. You can start with having a toy on the couch and pretending it falls to the floor and they have to bend down and pick it up (you can also use a toy such as a shape shorter so they feel there is an actual purpose for getting the toys off the floor!) For kids that are a little older you can use a shopping cart and put things like canned soup on the floor that they have to walk around and bend their knees to pick up and then stand up and put it in the cart. Another option is having them practice sitting down and standing up. All these are version of squats!
I hope you take away from this that exercising with your child to develop strong muscles doesn’t have to be hard – it can actually be fun, and they think they are playing!