Your gluteal muscles do so much more than just shape a pert posterior, they help create speed, agility and explosive power when running, sprinting, jumping and climbing stairs, all those movements involving your legs. There are four muscles that make up the buttocks; the gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in the body), gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and bringing up the rear, so to speak, the smallest of the muscles, the tensor fasciae latae. Targeted and specific exercises will keep them working in tandem giving you a solid base for all sporting activities.
It’s true that genetics and bone structure play a large part in shaping our silhouette but exercising your glutes will strengthen and tone the muscles whilst lowering overall body fat can stop our bottoms outgrowing our heads!
The hip flexors are the most important muscles in moving your leg forward and the gluteus maximus for moving your leg backward. Both muscles control your thighs and need to be strong and supple to enable correct firing of the glutes. Poor posture, such as an excessive posterior (butt sticking out) pelvic tilt or anterior (butt pushed forwards) pelvic tilt can unduly stress your hip flexors. Determine your posture and work on strengthening your hip flexors (posterior) or lengthening them (anterior) and both types should work at developing core strength too.
We are only as strong as our weakest link, imagine a tree with an axe through the middle, when the wind blows, the tree becomes far less stable so you can see how having weak gluteal muscles can impinge on your training if your legs cannot generate enough strength or power. Commonly, track and field athletes along with runners find hip, knee or ankle problems generate from weak glutes.
As with all physical activity, stretching is vital in maintaining good muscle length and aiding relaxation at the end of your workout.
Try this taster exercise below:
- Start with feet hip width apart and engage your core muscles
- Take a wide step out with your right foot, keeping it level with your left foot
- Bend your right leg whilst keeping your left leg straight
- Bend forward from the waist, keep your back straight and place your hands on the floor on either side of your right foot
- Push back to the start position
- Alternate and repeat, aim for 3 sets of 12 repetitions