Everyone wants a nice looking backside, right? …Especially us ladies. We all want our butt to look “tight”, “firm” (insert whatever other adjective you use to describe a nice looking butt here). If we all want this, we need to make sure that our glute muscles are firing correctly in each exercise that we do that involves them. If they aren’t, we’re pretty much just wasting our time with the movement.
Your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body. Being the largest muscle, you would think it should have a pretty serious role in movement, correct? Correct.
The gluteus maxiums can be referred to as a powerhouse. Everytime you take a step, your glute muscles contract…or at least they should be contracting. If you’ve ever taken a step and slightly fallen off balance, it’s likely that this could be attributed to poor glute contraction. Your glute muscles play a huge role in balance. Therefore, the stronger your glutes are, typically the better balanced you’ll be. Along with poor balance, some other problems caused by weak glute activation are as follows…
- weak core
- poor posture
- poor lateral movement
- poor vertical
- aches & pains (low back, hips, knees)
As you can see, various issues are likely to arise if your glutes are not firing properly. These all are unnecessary problems that can be corrected when you learn to properly fire your glutes. In order to do this, like any other muscle in your body, they need to be warmed up before you use them. Try leg swings, lateral resistance band walks, and glute bridges as your dynamic warm-up.
Once you’ve warmed up the glutes, the following are great exercises that target them…
- Kettlebell Swings
- Stair Climbs
- Lateral Lunges
- Glute bridges (single leg, for more of a challenge)
NOTE: When doing lunges, squats, etc. make sure that you are pushing up through your heels rather than your toes. Pushing up through the heel allows the glutes to activate, whereas, pushing up on a lunge or squat through the toe, takes much of that glute activation away (gastrocnemius & soleus are getting more of a contraction in this case). Also, it’s very important to be sure that the glutes are firing during bodyweight exercises before loading a particular pattern or movement.
Just to stress the importance of glutes firing properly, I will say it again. Your glueus maximus is a powerhouse. So many people think that the legs hold all the power in running and walking, when in fact, it’s actually the gluteus maximus. Weak glutes have been linked to knee, foot, and back pain. Having strong glutes will propel you forward (in running & walking) without putting that extra strain on the knees, feet, lower back, & legs. Therefore, you’ll be able to move much more efficiently and much more pain free.