Let’s face it, who wouldn’t appreciate a firm, shapely posterior? While the visual appeal of these gluteal muscles (the technical term for the muscles in your buttocks) is undeniable, I’m even more focused on their function. This is crucial because underdeveloped gluteal muscles can have a more significant impact than you might realize on the health of your back and other body parts.
In fact, the root cause of numerous back and neck problems often lies in the pelvic region, with limited hip mobility and ineffective gluteal muscles frequently to blame.
Regardless of whether your goal is to achieve an aesthetically pleasing posterior or to alleviate back and hip discomfort, here are five intriguing facts about your glorious gluteal muscles…
1. It’s a Threesome!
I’ll spare you an overload of anatomical specifics, but broadly speaking, your gluteal muscles consist of three layers:
A. Gluteus Maximus– the most superficial and apparent. This huge muscles is the one which gives you the rear rounded shape. Anatomically it covers most of the other two gluteal muscles. The main actions of this muscle is extension and lateral rotation at the hip joint. An example is the Horse Kick exercise on all fours position.
B. Gluteus Medius is the prime mover in abduction of the hip joint. (When moving the leg sideway, like in a side kick , or when side lying and lifting the leg upwards). This muscles is also very important in stabilizing the pelvis when the opposite leg is off the ground, like in many of our daily activities like walking, running, stepping up/down the stairs, etc.
C. The Gluteus Minimus, sitting right under the gluteus medius, is also a major contributor in abduction movement of the hip.
2. Your Glutes and Lower Abs are Good Friends
Strong core muscles keep the Pelvis stable, and allow for the glutes to fire up!
At times, if the lower abdominal muscles are lax or weak, it can lead to a forward tilt of the pelvis. This posture, often referred to as the ‘Donald Duck’ stance, is characterized by the buttocks protruding outward while the lower back is excessively arched. In such a position, the gluteal muscles are elongated and nearly in a state of relaxation, leaving the lower back to bear an increased load, particularly when working with heavy resistance.
To effectively engage the gluteal muscles, it’s beneficial to slightly tilt your pelvis backwards, a movement known as ‘tucking under.’ This motion also involves activating the lower abdominal muscles and helps position the pelvis optimally, ensuring that your buttock muscles are primed for action!
Put simply, the buttocks and lower abdominal muscles function best in tandem! Additionally, the gluteal and abdominal muscles are among the first to lose strength with age. They truly are best friends in terms of muscle synergy!
In the Bridge exercise, for instance, you should lift your pelvis upwards (extending the hip joint) without relying on your lower back. By slightly tilting your pelvis backwards, you can stabilize it, maintain good form, and actively engage the intended muscles: your Gluteus Maximus.
3. Motion is Lotion
Mobility and flexibility are the first two things you wanna work on and maintain.
Performing strength exercises involves a certain level of joint flexibility. For instance, assuming a squat position demands flexibility in the hips, knees, and ankles. If any of these joints lacks normal range of motion, your body will compensate, further manifesting any existing imbalances.
It’s advisable to mobilize your hips and lower limbs before you start strength exercises targeting your glutes. Additionally, stretching the muscles you know are typically tight in your body will enhance your performance. For instance, if you’re aware that your hamstring muscles are particularly tight, using a foam roller or massage ball for myofascial release, followed by dynamic stretching, would be beneficial.
Motion is Lotion! Actively mobilizing and lubricating your joints can enhance your performance, increase flexibility, and reduce the risk of injuries.
Click HERE to discover techniques for alleviating lower body tightness using a Foam Roller.
4. Cellulite Go Away!
Does cellulite go away with exercise?
The exact causes of cellulite remain largely unknown, though factors like genetics, poor diet, and lifestyle choices can significantly contribute. While exercise isn’t a guaranteed solution for eliminating cellulite on the thighs, there’s a silver lining: strengthening and toning the muscles can tighten the surrounding skin and potentially diminish its appearance. So, if you’re aiming to reduce cellulite around the buttocks and thighs, toning these areas could indeed be beneficial!
5. The Lazy Butt Syndrome
The Lazy Butt Syndrome is quite prevalent, so don’t worry if you’re not feeling your glutes activate during exercises like deadlifts or Bulgarian squats. It’s common for other muscles, like the quads and lower back, to compensate and do the work intended for the gluteal muscles.
This issue can stem from a variety of factors, such as poorly learned techniques, incorrect movement patterns, postural issues, a sedentary lifestyle, and others.
Often, the key lies in the technique and subtle adjustments in body positioning. Paying close attention and consciously focusing on engaging the gluteal muscles can also be beneficial. If an injury is present that impedes muscle activation, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional.
In conclusion, while strong and toned glutes certainly enhance physical appearance, their importance extends far beyond. They contribute to better posture, improved strength, and overall well-being, adding a vibrant boost to your everyday life. Whether your goal is to improve your physique, boost your athletic performance, or simply to maintain a healthy and pain-free lifestyle, focusing on your butt muscles is a step in the right direction. Remember, a strong and well-toned posterior is not just about looking good – it’s about feeling good and living a healthier, more balanced life.