The Dailey Method class continues to evolve in exercises and format as we learn more and more about the body and how to intelligently get a great workout that creates beautiful lean muscles and a balanced physique. Barre classes have a reputation for being challenging, and one of the consistent things I hear is how hard the thigh work is. The thighs are an incredibly important muscle group to work for many reasons, both aesthetic and functional, but it’s integral for overall well being to have equal strength of your gluteals and hamstrings.
Your gluteals (aka seat) consist of gluteus maximus, minimus and medius. They are the the biggest muscle in your body. They work to extend your hip and are also hugely important in both pelvic and spine stability. They truly are the base on which your spine lives. This muscle group allows us to maintain an upright position and are incredibly important for back health and overall alignment. Because our lives have become so much more sedentary, a lot of people have difficulty accessing or firing their gluteals.
In order to ensure we give equal time and attention to the strength of your back body as front body, in each Dailey Method class you take you will have one of your thigh exercises be a “thigh/seat combo.” Ideally you can isolate your gluteal muscles for support or power in all of your thigh exercises once you understand this theory and gain muscle memory, but the ones we label this way are the exercises that are the ‘easiest’ to fire your seat. They are: Standing Single Leg Lifts, Upright Lunge, Hinge Lunge, Turned Out Squat and Wide Turned Out.
In our thigh exercises you will work your thighs no matter what. Simply holding the position brings your thighs into an elongated or eccentric contraction and you can’t help but feel that signature Dailey Method burn. It’s actually impossible not to if you’re working deep enough – which your teacher will ensure you do! The hamstrings and gluteals act as antagonistic muscles to your quadriceps which means that they tend to relax as the quadriceps engage, but in order to have the most efficient and joint stabilizing workout you should try and keep your muscles all around your legs engaged throughout the movement. This takes practice and mental focus on the alignment principles and the isometric contraction of hugging muscle to bone.
So how do you do it?
There is a “trick” to find the firing of the gluteals and hamstrings throughout thigh work – the mental focus this takes will keep you better engaged in both your physical and mental practice and provide you with improved mind-muscle connection that you can take with you outside of the studio as well.
Stand with your feet hips distance apart and truly parallel, spread your toes wide and foundation through all 4 corners of your feet. Shift a little more weight onto your right foot and do the action of dragging your left heel straight back without actually moving it. This action should enable you to feel the hamstring lift up the back body and engage the base of your seat. Then try it on the other side. Anytime in class when you feel like you want to stabilize your pelvis deeper or tap into engaging your seat go back to this sensation.
The result of this practice is that you will be getting long, lean thighs at the same time as a high lifted seat… that thought definitely makes us #burnbrightdailey!
Hope your glutes start feeling the FIRE!!