By Malia Warren
Booty, booty, booty, booty, rockin’ everywhere!
Do you remember the workout video, “Buns of Steel”? How about the song, “Baby Got Back”? It’s no secret in the fitness world - a nice butt doesn’t go unnoticed! However, there is more to the butt than just the way that it looks. Never judge a butt by its, well, shape. It’s the inside that matters!
Ok so let’s talk butts.
The primary muscle is called the gluteus maximus, or glute for short, and is the largest and heaviest muscle in the body. Although its location is on your backside, Kenhub cites the main goal of the glute muscle is the extension and external rotation of the thigh at the hip joint.
We did some research when they hired the Gluteus Maximus for the Body and the job description says, “responsible for keeping us upright” (by way of maintaining good posture through a painless back, knees, etc.). It's amazing what you can find on Indeed.
But for real, check out this ridiculously cool muscle diagram from Visible Body that shows you a panoramic view of the muscle itself and what muscles it connects to. It really puts into perspective how important the glute muscles are for helping our body maintain good posture!
This means, quite literally, that having weak glutes can actually lead to further issues throughout the body, such as low back pain, knee injuries, and ankle injuries. It’s like a trickle down effect. Knees giving you some trouble? Could be your glute muscles. Ankle pain? Same. Lower back pain again? Have a serious talk with your glutes.
Another possible side effect of weak glutes is hip pain, usually caused by an imbalance. Maybe the left side of your gluteus maximus is weaker than the right, which can cause your hip on the weaker side to work a little harder.
With the guidance from the wonderful PT’s at Physio Room, I was able to target the cause of my occasional knee pain, also known as “Runner’s Knee.” I discovered that indeed, my right glute is weaker, causing tight hips (try being an olympic weightlifter with tight hips, it’s … interesting) and thus making my left side over-work itself. This pretty much explains all the injuries to the lower left side of my body.
If you're having imbalances anywhere, it's very possible glutes could be to blame, but see a licensed Physical Therapist for a consultation to get the lowdown.
Which Exercises Activate Glutes the Most?
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 80% of the workforce has a job where they are sitting most of the day. Inevitably, with the increase in work-from-home, usually sitting at a desk in an uncomfortable chair, our glutes can weaken quite a bit.
More so than just the shape and the look of the glute muscle, we want to make sure we keep it functioning well and strong! This means actively tapping into those muscles in exercises where our first instinct isn’t to engage our glutes, such as Deadlifts.
Off the top, most people don’t really think of Deadlifts immediately as a glute exercise. They see the pure strength and power behind the lift and visually see the legs do a ton of the work. However, when executed properly the Deadlift should actually be one of your go-to glute exercises. Especially when you do a normal pull, and then a slow, burning, descend (3-5 seconds) to the floor while keeping the glutes activated.
Next time you go to pull a Deadlift, really focus on keeping your form tight. Engage your glutes by cementing your feet into the ground (this is why we recommend barefoot as the best shoes for working out in), and don’t let them stop working for you until you have lowered the bar to the ground to finish the lift.
Using the proprioception, try to slow down your reps and recruit your glutes more - you’ll thank me later :)
Build Glutes With Resistance Bands
So how else can you build a strong backside?
Booty Band work! You’ve probably seen a ton of them out there, but I’ll go ahead and toot our horn that our Lifting the Dream glute bands are the best (and handmade to order, by a woman-owned and women-run business) and if you don’t have one already - you need one. Or two.
Measuring in at a length anywhere from 26-30 inches, these resistance bands pack a seriously mean punch. In 10 minutes they will have your booty burning and on the way to stronger!
All you have to do is add in glute band exercises to your workouts, before or after (I prefer before so my glutes are activated for the workout!) a few days a week and you’ll start to notice the changes.
From Glute Bridges to Squats to Side Steps with the band, there are many exercises to build up your backside. I would argue that building up your glutes and keeping them strong can be the key to less injuries as an athlete and promote a healthy posture in your daily life.
Glute Day > Leg Day. I said what I said.
What is your favorite Glute workout?
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