The Glute Muscles
Who wouldn’t want a nice, round, firm butt? If not for the aesthetics, then to at least hold up their pants.
But the glute muscles have more critical functioning purposes.
The buttocks, or glutes, are made up of three muscles, the Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, and the Gluteus Minimus.
These three muscles have specific roles for moving our legs in different directions. Together, they aid us to maintain our balance while standing, walking, and running.
They are also critical players for enabling us to stand from a seated or squatted position and provide power for walking uphill, climb stairs, and running.
The Gluteus Maximus, which is the largest and most superficial muscle, meaning closest to the surface of the body, in the group.
This muscle is a prime mover of the leg backward, and forward when running and climbing, and for standing from a seated or squatting position. It also helps with rotating our leg outward and assists with maintaining our balance while standing and during the aforementioned activities.
The Gluteus Medius muscle lays beneath the Gluteus Maximus, and it’s the primary muscle involved in stabilizing our hips, as well as rotating them both externally and internally. This muscle helps keep the pelvis level, and it works with other muscles to pull your leg out to the side.
The Gluteus Minimus is the smallest muscle in the group and is located beneath and a little forward of the Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Medius.
This muscle assists with moving the legs out to the side, and rotating them inwards. The Gluteus Minimus also works with the other gluteal muscles to stabilize the hips while walking and running.
Effects of Underdeveloped Glute Muscles
Underdeveloped glute muscles can affect our posture and balance while standing, walking, and running. It can also affect our ability to comfortably walk uphill, climb stairs, and rise from a seated position.
Weak glute muscles can lead to body misalignment and run a high risk of developing lower back and knee pain, as well as tight iliotibial bands which impact the knees and ankles.
When the glutes aren’t strong enough to do their jobs, other muscles like the hamstrings, low back, quads, and calves have to contribute more than they usually would which increases the risk of injury to them.
Piriformis syndrome is one example that many people experience, especially as we age, become less active, and our glute muscles become weaker due to inactivity. When the Gluteus Medius muscle become weak, their function may be compensated by the piriformis muscle which results with it growing larger over time, causing pinching of the sciatic nerve, causing pain down our leg.
Causes for Weak Glutes
The primary reason for weak glute muscles is from prolonged sitting and inactivity.
- Sedentary people, and those who sit for prolonged periods such as students and those with desk jobs, spend much of the time with their glutes compressed and inactive.
But glute muscles can also become inhibited by those who overwork them.
- Muscle imbalance can cause them to be overworked due to compensating for weaker muscles, or they’re worked too often in an exercise program, not allowing enough time for recovery.
- Muscle imbalances; if one of the three glute muscles, or your hip flexors and quadriceps muscles are disproportionately stronger, they will fire into action before the other muscles that should be firing get activated.
Prevention and Intervention
The best remedy to prevent and fix weak muscles is to start an exercise program to develop and strengthen them.
The exercise program should emphasize working all the muscles responsible for leg movement to prevent muscle imbalance. The muscles to include are the three gluteal muscles, hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
Compound exercises that work a combination of muscles; glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
Exercises that emphasize the Gluteus Maximus
Exercises that emphasize the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus
Underdeveloped group muscles can affect your posture, gate, and ability to comfortably walk, run, climb, and rise from a sitting position. It can also increase the workload on other muscles and joints and increase the risk of overworking and injuring them.
Whether you do a lot of sitting, lead a sedentary lifestyle, or if your workouts often exclude the gluteal muscles, it’s time to start incorporating regular exercise to reactivate and strengthen those muscles.
Develop a workout routine that incorporates two or three of the exercises in each category above. Alternate the exercises every two weeks.
These exercises can be done using body weight alone, or you can add resistance using weights or resistance bands.
Exercise Routine Example
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