What are glutes?
Glutes, or Gluteus are the largest and the most powerful muscle group in the body, commonly known as the muscles of the buttocks.
It’s a group of three primary muscles- gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, and six supporting muscles that are collectively known as the “deep six”. (Fancy term, eh?)
All these muscles together, make up the entire gluteal region of your hips, and are responsible for muscular functions such as extension, abduction, and external as well as internal rotation of the hip joints.
Getting an idea of where muscles are located in your body, their names and their functions, lets you better understand what may be the reason behind the pain or discomfort that you have been feeling. This on its own is key to find the solution for that pain.
Let’s take a closer look at glutes muscles and their importance.
Significance of Glutes
Healthy glutes are essential for stability, balance and movement. It’s also the perfect base for your torso and spine without which you would collapse.
In other words, not only do they help you sit, get-up, stand, walk, run, twist, and bend but also help you move in a powerful and dynamic way when needed. So, the stronger your glutes, the more efficient your movement!
Yet, like everything else, glutes may weaken overtime due to a number of factors. Starting from aging, diet, sedentary lifestyle, and lack of physical work to childbirth, and reproductive changes such as menopause. Speaking of which, most women in their midlife tend to lose glute muscle mass mainly due to their lifestyle but also exacerbated by a drop in hormonal levels.
Regardless of the cause, it’s important to understand the function of glutes muscles so as to be able to work on them effectively. Before we get into that, let’s take a quick tour of the location of each of these glute muscles.
Regardless of their shape, strong glutes are a must for a healthy and good-looking posture.
Where Are Your Glutes and How Do They Work?
Glutes are located in the buttocks, with gluteus maximus being the largest, heaviest and the outermost of them all. That means that all the other eight glute muscles are stacked underneath it.
Gluteus maximus (GMax) accounts for about 16% of the total cross-sectional area of the buttocks. Located at the rear end of the hip joint, it makes up for a large part of the shape, mass and appearance of your hips. As a result, it allows you to generate a large amount of force when required other than helping you maintain an upright posture whether you sit, stand or walk. Gluteus maximus also helps in extending the hips and trunks as well as in lateral rotation of the hips.
Gluteus Medius (GMed) is a broad fan shaped muscle that originates on the outer surface of the ilium (bone that forms the upper part of pelvis). It is a middle-sized muscle sandwiched between gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus. Divided into three parts: anterior, middle and posterior, it makes up for 60% of the total hip abductor muscle cross-sectional area. GMed helps with extension, abduction, and rotation of your hips and legs while providing side to side stability to your pelvis.
Gluteus Minimus (GMin) is also a fan-shaped muscle that helps with outward movements of hips and circular movements with your thighs. It is the smallest and deepest glute muscle. Apart from internal and external rotation of the thigh, it also stabilizes the hips/pelvis during walking, running, or standing on one leg.
The glutes muscle group consists of 3 major muscles and 6 smaller ones.
Deep Six, as the name suggests, are six of the smallest and deepest glute muscles that are located deep underneath the three main gluteal muscles. Also known as “lateral rotator group”, their job is to externally rotate the femur or the thigh bone in the hip joint.
Therefore, glutes are not only essential for stabilizing your upper body or torso but also for free and painless movement of your lower body i.e. your hips, thighs, knees and legs.
The “Deep Six” are responsible for the lateral rotation of the legs.
Weakness in glute muscles can cause a number of issues starting from restriction or limitation in your range of motion. Then there are issues such as lower back pain, knee problems like knee valgus, hip adduction, hip internal rotation, and over-stress on lower extremity joints that can be all traced back to hip weakness and dysfunction.
Yet, glutes just like any other major muscle can be trained and strengthened with regular exercise.
Let’s check it out.
How to Train Your Glutes?
Glutes can be worked upon using a number of methods including:
- Warm-up to activate the glutes
- Resistance training
- Body-weight training
- Weightlifting exercises
According to science, the best exercises for stronger and bigger glutes are:
-Hip thrust (this one is the best)
The hip thrust stimulates glutes muscles like no other exercise.
It’s important to bear in mind that glutes are made up of both fast-twitch (for power) and slow-twitch (for endurance) muscle fibers. So, the best way to target all the muscle fibers within the glute muscles is through a fair combination of all the training methods listed above as each of them has its own benefits like strength, power, agility, endurance and so on.
In any case, exercising after menopause is the only safe and sound method of maintaining stronger glutes for women in their midlife. And for more insight, check out the famous book by glutes expert Bret Contreras available on Amazon.
A freelance writer, a poet and an avid reader. He’s a passionate wordsmith who believes in writing content which is simple, beautiful and informative. He’s a practised communicator coached by British Academy.
Apart from being a playful scribbler, he’s a hardcore music fan and loves exploring space and science. He is also a spiritual soul and fitness enthusiast. Yoga, meditation and workout are some of his favourite health activities.