Glutes...what the heck is that?
Glutes is just a fancy term that fitness professionals throw around for the group of butt muscles. Did you know that the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body? The song “I Like Big Butts” by Sir Mix-A-Lot alludes to the fact that a large, round, derrière is something to be desired for aesthetic purposes only. I bet Sir Mix-A-Lot didn’t know that these muscles are crucial to maintain an upright position and to walk, amongst, many other functions. Perhaps if he knew the importance of actually growing and strengthening the tuckus, his hit single would have been called “I Like STRONG Butts”
Where & What
This muscle group is located on the posterior side of the body around the hips and thigh. The gluteal muscles are made up of three parts, ranging from the largest to smallest:
Gluteus Maximus: extends the leg at the hip, rotates the leg to the outside, and moves leg away from body
Gluteus Medius: rotates the leg towards the midline of the body and moves the leg away from the body
Gluteus Minimus: rotates the leg toward midline of the body and moves the leg away from the body
The glutes play a major role to keep the torso upright and stable so we can stand, sit, and walk without toppling over. They also assist us when we walk, run, and climb stairs because with each step taken, our weight is transferred more to one leg, which activates the glutes to keep us balanced during each stride. When you go from a sitting position to a standing position, the glutes are one of the major muscle groups activated in order to transfer your body to the standing position.
Does sitting too much affect the glutes?….YES!!!
When you sit for hours and hours each day, the glute muscles are basically just taking a snooze. Then, when it is time to get up and walk, bend over, go up the stairs, or exercise, the glutes have to wake up and start firing off the muscle fibers for action. However, due to sitting for a long period of time, they become tight and shortened, which often time leads to pain in the lower back and stiff hamstring muscles. If you are someone who sits multiple hours a days commuting, working a sedentary job, watching television, etc. it is imperative that you get up and walk around for a least five minutes every hour. This will help prevent the glutes and surrounding muscle tissues from becoming too stiff, aid in better blood flow, and it will reduce the risk of low back pain.
Strengthening the Glutes
Now that you know what the glutes are, where they are located, and why they are important, let’s get to the best part! I’m going to show you a few key exercises to build and strengthen your glutes.
- Glute bridges
- Single leg bodyweight RDL
- Lateral Step Ups
Written by Alex Michaels of From the Roots Fitness