Crack Nuts Faster: Squeeze the ‘Po!
Here’s a useful Trainer Tip: Squeeze the ‘Po.’
I’m drawing on my use of German slang here,
Popo being slang for butt :).
But really (okay that pun was mostly unintentional), ‘Squeezing the Po,’ or glutes, can be a hugely helpful and simple action that can decrease low back discomfort while exercising–particularly strength training–and increase your performance.
Now, I’m not talking about cracking walnuts with those puppies, I’m just recommending enough of a tightening to make you aware of using your glutes. It will give you greater pelvic and spinal stability, which in turn makes it possible for you to move more weight with greater comfort (and I’m not just talking about in the gym), but get more bang for your buck when lifting weights.
Places I’ve seen giving the Po a squeeze being extremely helpful are: during ANY exercise where your body is facing the floor (prone), particularly push ups, planks of any variety, plank to push ups, bird dogs, supermans, etc….give your glutes a nice squeeze to create a little stabilizing muscle tension, and it makes them all easier to perform. It’s easier to move a 2×4 than dead/limp weight, right?! This technique is also super helpful when doing inverted rows of any kind (TRX, barbell, smith machine) or pull ups–here they stop the lower body from swinging and taking away power from your movement!
Squeezing the Po is also super helpful when performing lower body exercises, too, particularly squats and deadlifts. Before you lower into a squat, squeeze the Po. Keep it squeezed when lowering and lifting! Before you lower or lift the weight in a deadlift (depending on which variation you’re doing), squeeze the Po–especially when your hips are as far back as they can go. Keep it squeezed the whole time. Single leg squats or reverse lunges? Squeeze the Po. Glute bridging? Squeeze the Po–before you lift your hips and throughout the whole movement.
Once this tactic dawned on me, and it was one of those “Duh!!” and “Why did this not occur to me sooner?” moments, all of my push ups and planking became MUCH more comfortable and helped me get more reps out. (Remember, I still manage a low back injury, so tricks like this keep me in business–literally and figuratively) It’s a technique I apply around the house, too, when moving tires in and out of the car, moving tough boxes, lifting kids, lifting and carrying my 65-lb. dog up and down my stairs, lifting awkward laundry baskets, and even leaning over the sink while brushing my teeth. When I use my ‘Po instead of relying on my low back to keep things stable, everything feels better and goes better.
Super bonus to employing this technique? You’re bound to get a perkier butt. And there’ll be no need for nutcrackers around your house during the holidays.