How to Train Your Glutes: A Users Guide

Written by Jonathan

You know these muscles. You love these muscles. You wish yours were bigger and rounder. What are they? The gluteal muscle group, more commonly called the glutes, are three muscles that are found in your bum, or buttocks. They’re one of the strongest muscles in your body, and you use them for all sorts of things – and I mean more than just distracting a potential mate. You use your glutes for walking, stabilising your hip, lifting things off the ground, even kicking a soccer ball with the outside of your foot. It’s one of the muscle groups with the most functions inside your entire body, but it’s also one of the most underdeveloped muscles in most people. Even when people have really developed glutes, they often still only train them in one or two different ways, which means they can become imbalanced, which can cause injuries or other issues if the imbalance becomes too big or someone starts pushing their body in a way that their glute can handle in one direction, but not in others.

Why Train the Glutes?

Okay – outside of the obvious fact that they’ll look amazing, what possible reason could you have to train your glutes? Well, we have a couple.

1. You’re missing out on being the strongest person you can be from a functional and lifting standpoint. I already mentioned that the glute muscles are among the strongest, and do a lot of the heavy lifting for your body. Training the glutes will really help you along in making the rest of your body stronger.
2. If you don’t, you’re going to be more prone to having back problems. We’ve probably all joked about getting old and having back problems – but it’s a huge reality, and yes, one you’ll face too. With strong glutes comes a lesser chance of having that back pain – and if that isn’t the biggest plus, I don’t know what is.
3. There’s a good chance you won’t be able to make them dance. Obviously that’s the most important function of the glutes, am I right?

The Anatomy

The gluteus maximus is the meat of your bum. It’s the big muscle that most people think of when they think of glutes – but we also have our gluteus medius, which runs along the outside of your hip, and then just beneath the glute medius is the gluteus minimus. If we want to get more technical, the glute medius is more superficial, while the glute minimus lies deeper within. Yes, you just learned bum science.

The Function

The gluteus maximus is a big muscle, it’s a strong muscle, and it’s supposed to be the main thigh and hip extensor in your body, especially when your knee is in a flexed position. In layman’s terms, this means your glute is the main muscle every time you take a running or walking stride. This is especially noticeable when going up hills. It’s one of the main muscles in your posterior chain when you do squats, glute bridges and deadlifts, which are standing thigh extension exercises.

Those are its main functions; it also works to rotate the hip laterally – which isn’t a movement we typically use day to day, but is important if you’re thinking about doing something like kicking a soccer ball with the outside of your foot as you’re running forward, or changing direction quickly where the glute max stabilizes your hip and helps keep the head of your femur in the socket of your hip.

Now if we look at the glute medius and the gluteus minimus, they’re not responsible for the hip extension the same way the gluteus maximus is, but they are responsible for leg abduction, lateral rotation and hip stabilisation, especially when you’re only standing on one foot. Think about walking, running, moving from side to side, being on a slippery surface, all of these require strong glute med and glute min muscles to help avoid hip injuries.

Common Mistakes When Training

As you can see, the gluteal group is very diverse and dynamic, and has a lot of functions within the body. However, when most people strength train them, they only do the hip extension aspect of a movement or exercise, usually in the form of squats, split squats, or lunges, which is all fine and good, except it leaves you exposed for injury when you’re doing dynamic activities that aren’t straight forwards and backwards, which is why it’s very important that all aspects of the glute get strength trained doing these following exercise types.

The Exercises to Train Each Function

 

Even More In-Depth

Thigh Extension

Hip Extension

Thigh Lateral Rotation

Leg Abduction

Hip Stabilisation

Glute Activation
You can do all the glute exercises in the world, but if you’re not good at activating your glutes, you’ll just wind up using other muscles and won’t train the right ones; if you have trouble squeezing your glute muscles individually, you may have trouble with glute activation. In this video we demonstrate some tests and exercises to help you improve your glute activation so that you can get the maximum benefit out of these exercises.

As you can see, your glutes are one of the most important muscles in your body that you can train and it’s important to be able to activate them well, so that when your’e doing the big glute exercises, you’re really training the muscles and getting the most out of each exercise. Not only are having stronger glutes really good for function, but I’ve never heard anyone say “that person’s glutes look too functional.” So train your glutes hard, target every aspect of them, and you will have a strong, powerful, and maybe even shapely, bum.

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