In the fitness industry, it’s hard to go a day without seeing someone’s ass. We see them all over the place on YouTube videos, Instagram pages, and in almost any fitness magazine you’ll find. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to shame anyone for this. In fact, I’m all for people being proud of their bodies and showing off their hard work. If you got it, flaunt it.
While the glutes are one of the more aesthetically pleasing muscles (for both men and women), there is functionality to strengthening and working on the glutes that convert into many different areas when it comes to your overall fitness.
Today, I’m going to lay out a few reasons to make sure you build your booty next time you go to the gym, besides just having a nice butt (which is important in its own way)
Preventing Lower Back Pain
The Glutes muscles aren’t just for showing off, but they have a big function when it comes to supporting the low back and core. In fact, a lot of lower back pain can stem from underactive glutes.
When we are seated for long periods of time, our Glutes do not get engaged, and tend to become weaker. Add that on top of the hip flexors becoming extremely tight and you have a recipe for lower back pain. As we stand up, the tight hip flexors/psoas can’t stretch as far which pulls the pelvis forward. If we have weak Glutes (along with weak obliques), we can’t resist this pull and this creates an anterior pelvic tilt. Not only does this position put more pressure on the lower back, the underactive Glutes can no longer help the lower back support us when we stand upright, which can cause strain and overuse in the low back muscles.
By keeping the Glute muscles active and strong, we can prevent lower back pain and fix our posture.
The Glutes play a huge role in our athletics performance, and we never really realize it. Think about the squat, deadlift, and the Olympic lifts, what is a primary force generator? The Glutes! Not only do they help produce force, but they help us maintain proper form and posture as we perform the exercise. The stronger the Glutes, the easier it is to prevent our knees from coming inward during our squat.
Stronger Glutes don’t just help with our lifts however, they have every day function to them as well. When we have stronger Glutes, we can have stronger strides as we walk, run, and jump. This can help boost athletic performance, as we can increase our top speeds, acceleration, and jumping ability of one or two feet.
Athletes should spend time training the glutes for both power and stability, but everyone can benefit from these bonuses as well.
So, How Do You Train Your Glutes?
One of the biggest keys to working the glutes (along with any other muscle group), is making sure that the muscle is being engaged properly. Start off with smaller exercises like Glute bridges, clamshells, and leg kickbacks, but really focus on squeezing the Glute muscle to activate it.
Once you’ve begun to feel the Glutes, and get the activation there are a number of exercises that can be done to build your booty. This includes: Squats, Deadlifts, Hip Thrusts, and Single Leg Exercises (like lunges, Bulgarian split squats, single leg deadlifts, etc.).
However, we tend to focus just on one part of the glute, while neglecting two other essential muscles. See, the Glute is made up of the Gluteus Maximus (the primary muscle), the Gluteus Medius, and the Gluteus Minimus. The Medius and Minimus can typically be forgotten about when it comes to strengthening the glutes.
Some ways to hit the Glute Medius include: Banded Side Steps, Banded Squats, Banded Hip Thrusts, Side Lying Hip Abduction
Some ways to hit the Glute Minimus include: Side Lunges, Fire Hydrants, Curtsy Lunges, and Side Plank Hip Drops
(For more ways to build stronger glutes check out Bret Contreras’s book Glute Lab)
Like training any other muscle we need to make sure we are focusing on progressively overloading the muscle with more weight, reps, or sets. Tempo of the exercise can affect how the muscle develops (more controlled eccentrics typically work best) and add extra intensity to the exercises being performed. Of course, recovery is vital here as well, we need to ensure we are getting enough calories in and enough sleep to grow that booty!
Now that you know why to train the Glutes, get out there and start working on those booty gains for better athletic performance, better postural health, and to turn heads next time you walk by!
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