More often than not, most people adhere to working on their glutes only because they want a great body, to look toned and well in shape.
0However, there is a lot more to glutes than having a hot body or a great butt. For those wondering, our glutes are nothing but a collection of muscles, that combine for the purposes of extending, abducting and rotating the leg. It also helps in stabilizing the trunk building a connection between the upper and lower torsos which helps us maintaining an erect posture. Gluteal muscles being the most integral and important part of the evolution from apes to humans, they help us sit /stand upright, help you push off the ground and also maintain a balance. It powers most of our bodily movements, connecting to the core, quads and hamstrings, and also the iliotibial band along the sides of the legs, connecting glutes to the knees.
Glutes specifically are composed of-
1. The Gluteus Maximus (GM)
2. The Gluteus Medius (Gmed)
3. The Glueteus Minimus (Gmin)
These three muscles make up a large proportion of the shape and appearance of the buttocks.
The Gluteus Maximus being a large muscle, is one of the most powerful & dominant muscle in the human body! The main action of this muscle involves extending the leg, help it move backward. Greatly responsible for power during running or jumping. Along with that, it stabilizes the pelvis during exercises like deadlights, squats, lunges etc.
The Gluteus Medius and Minumus are situated under the maximus, their role and function is mostly abducting and helping with the rotation of the leg. These are also involved in stabilizing the hip while running and other such activities and are usually weak in a lot of people, especially ones who run or cycle and over train their quads and hamstrings.
Coming to why it is so important to strengthen and train your glutes:
If you’re unable to run for long distances, climb up hills, or even maintain a consistent pace while working out, have weak knees or sit all day at the desk without much movement, you are most probably suffering from the weakness in your glutes. This indicates that your glutes need strengthening. As they control almost all your lower body movements and since they do so, one may wonder why they need further training or exercise for strengthening, would they not be strong enough already from running and walking alone? The answer is no.
Owing to the sedentary lifestyle modern people succumb to, specially ones who work at corporates and have a desk job, cause the glutes to weaken overtime. This would make their glutes less likely to activate while running or jogging or merely going for long walks. They require a little more than just that much. These glutes on getting weak do not retain potential to push you forward and hence you the body would rely on the other smaller muscles to finish their work. This causes fatigue, low energy levels, injuries in the lower back etc. This is why it is so important to focus on glute strength. As a matter of fact, even if one doesn’t go through injuries or knee related issues or any such problems, strong glutes are very essential if one wishes to remain healthy and active in the long run. Most importantly, for people who work out at the gym or are into any form of fitness routine, avoiding glutes is one thing they must abstain from. As for marathoners too, weak glutes do cause problems and it makes handling higher mileage all the more difficult.
Question hence arises, How can one activate the inactivate or non-firing glutes and build strength on the backside? This would involve specific strength training moves that would help target and isolate glutes. No doubt push ups would work on the glutes but it would be along with certain other muscle groups and will definitely not suffice for training one of the largest muscles of the body.
There are various exercises that can be done for improving glute strength, they include- body weight exercise, use of dumbbells or kettle bells. Barbells can also be used when one gets used to working on them.
However, there are a couple of points one needs to understand in order to effectively strengthen glutes. Like, always engage your glutes when you work on them, which would mean to tighten them as you perform the exercise. Exactly how we tighten abs while doing a plank. Another thing would be that if you plan glute work outs around runs or cardio it’ll only be better to include a few glute exercises in the normal strengheing routine and avoid doing them just a day before hard running (marathons or treks) as it may lead to over-fatigue.
Here are a few exercises which would help target your glute muscles:
- - Single leg deadlift
- - Stiff leg deadlift.
- - Barbell Hip thrust / Glute bridge
- - Single leg barbell squat
- - Standing leg lift
- - Side Lunge and walking lunge
- - Glute kickback