Glutes: What Are They?
The glute muscles give your butt its rounded shape. If it’s important to you to have a nice-looking posterior, you’ll definitely want to zone in on some exercises that will work out this part of your body. However, the ‘look’ of the glutes is nothing compared to what they’re responsible for. The glutes control hip, pelvis, and thigh movement.
The glutes are made up of three muscles called the Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Minimus, and Gluteus Medius. As the strongest muscle in the human body, the Gluteus Maximus is in charge of climbing stairs, standing, and standing up from sitting. It’s also the central muscle involved in maneuvering the thighs and hips. Gluteus Medius assists in stabilizing the hips and thigh, and the Gluteus Minimus assists in these tasks. 1
We live in a world where we often sit for hours in front of a computer. Life has become increasingly sedentary, and that’s unwelcome news for the glute muscles. There’s an actual term for the weak, underused muscles you develop when you sit too much, and that term is “gluteal amnesia.” It doesn’t sound like a condition you’d want to end up with, does it? You really should learn some glute exercises! 7
Besides wanting a nice butt and not wanting an amnesiac rear end, why else would you want to do glute exercises? First of all, the glutes serve as solid protection for your spine, stabilizing it and preventing it from being injured when you lift something heavy. These are also the muscles that give you the strength to lift. 4
In fact, strong glutes give you additional strength for every movement-based activity you do, including participating in sports. Every athlete can benefit from having strong glutes, and there are some sports in particular where glute exercises are quite necessary. For example, a golfer’s swing will improve quite a bit after developing solid glutes. The same is true of a baseball player’s swing. 4
Athletes aren’t the only ones who can benefit from doing glute exercises. Everyone should do them, because strong glutes will reduce your risk of back and knee injuries. In addition, well-conditioned glute muscles provide an advantage in every movement, be it running, walking, jumping, or twerking. 4 Interestingly enough, studies have shown that these muscles are far more important for running than walking. 5
The top 6 best glute exercises are:
1. Basic step ups
3. Back barbell squat
4. Hip Hinge
5. Deadlift with barbell
6. Hip thrust
Exercise #1: The Basic Step-up
The step-up is a very basic exercise which gives the glutes a great workout. We carry out this motion constantly when we go up and down the stairs, and we need the same muscles for jumping, running, and squatting. It’s an excellent exercise for general lower body conditioning.
To do this, you need a small step stool that can hold your weight. You can also use the regular stairs. Push yourself up onto the step, using mostly your dominant foot. Now both feet are on the step. Starting with your dominant foot, step back onto the floor.
Exercise #2: Lunges
Lunges are great for toning and shaping your lower body and making your hips more flexible. They have the added benefit of increasing the size of your muscles. You do this exercise standing up. With your dominant foot, take a big step forward. Slowly bend both knees until the back knee is close to the ground. Keep your body straight the whole time. Using your front heel, push yourself back up to your original position.
Exercise #3: Back Barbell Squat
The back-barbell squat exercises your quads and your glutes. When you squat you really stretch your glutes and propelling yourself upwards gives them a really solid workout.
Take a barbell and lay it across your back, holding it overhand. Keep your head up, your chest straight, bend your knees, and move your hips back. Then squat down to the floor until your thighs are parallel to it. Then thrust yourself upward, back into your original position.
Exercise #4: Hip Hinge
The hip hinge is another useful exercise for lower body conditioning. This move is also essential to perfect for some other lower body exercises that require it. For example, squats, lunges, jumps, and deadlifts.
Your starting position is standing up straight will your head facing forward. Then you’re slowly going to stretch your arms to the floor, while bending your knees slightly and sticking your hips and butt all the way back.
Exercise #5: Deadlift with Barbell
With this exercise you use the barbell. The deadlift greatly stretches out your glutes and hamstrings. It basically tones the entire back side of your form. This exercise is also superb for firming and shaping the butt.
Start out standing up, in front of the barbell. Pull the barbell up so it’s touching your shins, then bend your knees and hips. Hold onto the bar, gripping it overhand. Now pull yourself up with the barbell into a standing position, pushing your hips forward. Slowly lower the barbell back onto the ground.
Exercise #6: Hip Thrust
This simple movement is arguably one of the best exercises to tone the glute muscles. It’s really simple to do, and you can do it anywhere you have enough floor space to lie down. There’s no excuse not to get these in for a few minutes every day!
Start by lying down on your back, but with your knees bent upwards at approximately 90 degrees. Push yourself downward, tightening your abs and tilting your pelvis. Keeping your pelvis tilted, push your hips up high without moving or arching your lower back.
Exercise: Avoiding Injury
With glute activation exercises, it’s absolutely crucial that you use the correct form. Not doing so will prevent you from getting the results you’re looking for with your glutes. It can also lead to injury, which you certainly want to avoid.
One of the most common errors is using too much resistance. You inevitably end up compensating by using other muscle groups, and this can lead to an injury in your lower back. It’s really important not to lift more than you’re capable of. 7
Another mistake is to lose control of what you’re doing during the exercise. In order to use the proper form, you really have to keep mindful while you’re doing the exercises. For instance, if during a hip thrust or squat you drop down quickly without maintaining control, you could also really injure your lower back.7 Research has concluded that glute exercises done properly can contribute to lessening lower back pain.
Glute Isolation Exercises: Tips
When you do glute isolation exercises, you isolate the glutes for the purpose of toning them and shaping your butt. There’s a few tips you might want to keep in mind.
• To maximize your workout, it’s important to follow a healthy diet. In addition, eating carbs before your workout will give you the energy to get through it. You may also find it beneficial to supplement with things like vitamins, pre workouts or testosterone supplements (like Delta Prime).
• If you’re using the barbell, don’t use too much weight, and don’t use too little weight. Lift what you’re capable of lifting.
• Perform a variety of movements and exercises to give your glutes a well-rounded workout. Squats and deadlifts alone are not enough to tone your glutes.
• Stand with your legs wide apart. Research has shown using a wide stance really activates the glutes.6
• Use a variety of rep ranges when you’re working out. Ideally you should mix low (4-6), medium (7-12) and high ranges (12-20) to get the best out of your workouts.
- 1Encyclopedia Britannica Editors (2019). Gluteus Muscle: Anatomy. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved online at View Reference
- 2Callaway, M. (No Date). Glute Training Mistakes to Avoid. The Barbell Physio. Retrieved online at View Reference
- 3Jeong, U. C., Sim, J. H., Kim, C. Y., Hwang-Bo, G., & Nam, C. W. (2015). The effects of gluteus muscle strengthening exercise and lumbar stabilization exercise on lumbar muscle strength and balance in chronic low back pain patients. Journal of physical therapy science 27(12), 3813-6. Retrieved athttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4713798/
- 4Leung, Kenneth (July 2017). Top 7 Glute Activation Exercises to Build Strength & Power. BuiltLean.Retrieved online at View Reference
- 5Lieberman, D., Raichlen, D., Pontzer., H., Bramble, D., Cutright-Smith, E. (2006). The human gluteus maximus and its role in running. Journal of Experimental Biology 209: 2143-2155. Retrieved at http://jeb.biologists.org/content/209/11/2143
- 6Mccaw, S. Melrose, D. (1999). Stance width and bar load effects on leg muscle activity during the parallel squat. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.428-36. Retrieved online at https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/1999/12000/Bilateral_deficit_of_voluntary_quadriceps_muscle.1.aspx
- 7Miller, Jill (August 2018). Anatomy 101: Get to Know Your Glute Muscles. Cruz Bay Publishing.Retrieved at View Reference