A round shapely tight booty, we all want it! Whether you have a big butt, small butt, flat butt, round butt, we should all aim at having a functioning butt. Defying gravity and having a heart shaped butt, is much more than just esthetic, it says a lot about how your body is functioning as you move. If your glutes are not firing when they should, then you likely deal with low back pain from using your back muscles instead.
Strengthening the glutes is more than just doing a couple of glute isolation exercises. It generally involves strengthening the posterior chain as a whole and also stretching tight areas that may be restricting you from getting the most from specific movements, such as squats and lunges, and having the flexibility to perform dynamic movements.
In this 3 part blog series we’ll break it down, from basic anatomy to getting the basic movements down, stretches, and then progressing to more advanced exercises to help you isolate those lovely butt muscles, while keeping things functional, so that you can avoid injury.
As the saying goes, “use it or lose it”! Too many hours of sitting at your desk can lead to loads of issues, among them very tight hip flexors and inhibited glutes. If your only squats in the day are when you go to the bathroom, sit at your desk or sit in your car, then your risk of injury sometime down the line is pretty high.
Think about it for a moment. If you have no strength in your glutes, then you are essentially using your back for any movements that require you to lift from the ground up, picking up your child, a box, grocery bags,…what muscle would you rather use?! Exactly! So when I say that training your glutes is more than just for esthetics and defying gravity, which I’m glad got your attention, I’m not kidding!
Let’s begin with a basic anatomy of the glutes, so that you can get a sense of their importance, and how the body works in synergy to allow for movement.
Gluteus maximus: Not only is it the largest of the gluteal muscles, it is also the largest muscle in the human body!
It has a pretty big role of keeping the trunk in an erect posture.
It originates from the fascia (connective tissue) of the erector spinae, the sacrotuberous ligament, and gluteus medius (smaller glute muscle). It is connected to the inner upper ilium (pelvic bone), and lower part of the sacrum (triangular bone at the base of spine), and the side of the coccyx (tailbone);
The gluteus maximus inserts to the iliotibial band (IT band) through the fascia lata (connective tissue of the thigh), as well as the gluteal tuberosity between the vastus lateralis (most powerful of the thigh muscles) and adductor magnus.
- hip extension
- external rotation and abduction of the femur (thigh)
- knee stabilization
- most active in movements from a force production with a flexed knee, such as a lifting from a seated or squat position and climbing stairs.
Gluteus Medius & Minimus: We’ll go through these together, as they play similar roles.
The Gluteus Medius, is a smaller gluteal muscle that is situated on the outer surface of the pelvis. The Gluteus Minimus is the smallest of the gluteal muscles and is located directly beneath the gluteus medius.
They originate from the outer surface of the ilium (largest bone of pelvis)
- With a straightened leg, these glute muscles work together to abduct the thigh (pull the thigh away from midline).
- During gait (form of walking), together with the tensor fasciae latae (muscle of the thigh), they work to support the body on one leg and prevent the pelvis from dropping to the opposite side.
- With the hip extended, they externally rotate the thigh. With the hip flexed they internally rotate the thigh. Without this action, which prevents hip extension, the knee would drift inwards and create stress on the hip, knee and foot.
So, as you can see, the glutes are pretty darn important.
Certainly everyone has different goals in mind, some people may be working towards powerlifting, while the majority will likely just be looking to get stronger and look and feel better in your clothes. Whatever the goal, you need to start with the basics and build from there.
In the next post we’ll show you some myofascial release techniques and stretches, as well as the basic exercises you need to get down right, before we can move to more advanced training for the glutes.
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