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Finding Happiness
Healthy Lifestyle
The Glutes Have it!

May 19th, 2018

Category: Body

The Glutes Have it!

Having a strong posterior can help improve posture and athletic performance, reduce knee and back pain, and prevent injury. The posterior (rear) musculature of the hip is comprised of three gluteal muscles, commonly known as the glutes. Each one has a specific role, so it is important to target each one to strengthen the entire rear-end.


The primary function of the gluteus maximus is hip extension, which controls the movement for cycling, hopping, jumping, squatting and climbing stairs. The gluteus medius and minimus work together and separately as hip abductors, which means they control the movement of lifting the leg to the side and partial control of hip rotation. These muscles are important to strengthen for walking, skating, plyometrics and running.


Below is a simple pre-workout activation circuit prior to exercising target the glutes: Complete 15-20 repetitions for each movement and on each side.


Hip bridges:  Lie on your back, bend your knees and position your feet about shoulder-distance apart. Place your arms to the side or across your chest. Raise your hips as high as possible while keeping the knees over the toes.

Clam shell:  Lie on your side with the knees bent to 90 degrees and your torso facing forward. Raise your top leg but keep the foot touching the other foot.


Hip extension and abductions:  Assume an athletic-ready stance next to a wall or something secure that you can hold onto. Lift one leg back as high as possible without moving your upper body. Return to the starting position and lift the same leg out to the side (abduction) and return to starting position.


The following exercises can be combined and modified to create a dynamic workout. Begin with eight to twelve repetitions for each exercise and complete three sets. Consciously isolating your gluteal muscles will increase the effectiveness of these exercises. Loading the gluteals for the first 10 to 15 degrees during the initial phase will help you avoid relying on the surrounding muscles (especially quadriceps) and achieve the strong rear-end your body deserves.

Kettlebell swings:  Plant feet in a wide stance and position kettlebell two feet in front of you on the floor. Reach for the kettlebell with both hands; keep the legs mostly straight and maintain a flat, rigid back. Begin the movement by dragging the kettlebell back toward your feet and lift the kettlebell in a pendulum-like motion by extending your hips to stand, letting the kettlebell only reach shoulder height. Be sure to focus on the hip-hinge motion, not the squatting motion. The arms should not do anything other than hold the kettlebell.


Stationary lunge:  Start by staggering your legs about shoulder-width apart. Make sure that when you’re in the downward phase, your knees are at 90-degree angles. Lean slightly forward to keep the focus on the front leg—90% of the weight should be in the front leg; the back leg is only for balance purposes. Return to the starting split stance and slowly lower back down.

Straight-leg deadlift:  Begin in a shoulder-width stance and hold the barbell across the shoelaces, just wider than the shoulders. Before lifting, assume a table-top posture with your torso and retract the shoulders to prevent rounding of the upper back. The first upward movement should come from the hips extending and then the knees to standing. Lower back down by initiating the movement with the glutes shifting back, while keeping knees slightly bent. Lower the barbell to the floor but stop if you break your form or begin to round your back.

Curtsy lunge

Begin standing with a wide stance and then cross the left leg behind the right to mimic a curtsy. Keep the shoulders drawn back and chest upright. Aim to keep the knee aligned closely to the heel during the lowering phase so there is not extra strain on the joint. From the lowered position, push the body up to standing while simultaneously bringing the back leg forward to the starting wide-stance position and then crossing the other leg behind.


Single-leg cable extension:  Begin by lowering the cable to the lowest pin and attaching a cuff securely around one ankle. Stand facing the anchor in an athletic-ready stance and hold onto the handles or a secure pole. Slowly raise the heel by initiating the movement from the glutes and continue to isolate the gluteus maximus until you cannot lift your leg anymore, all while keeping an erect torso.  Return to starting position and repeat. (Shown below using tubing.)

Bench hip thrusters:  Using a standard weight bench, begin by positioning your shoulders on the bench and the feet shoulder-width apart on the floor. Depending on whether or not you want to add weight, you can place your hands on your hips or across your shoulders. Initiate the movement by squeezing the glutes until the hips are even with the knees and shoulders. Return to the starting position and repeat.


Ask any of the trainers at moreFIT any time for assistance with these exercises!

(Reference:  http://www.acefitness.org – contributor Mollie Martin)