There are three main muscles that are found in the gluteal muscle group which is more commonly known as the buttocks. These three muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. While they all have some different functions, they all work together to create movement in the lower body for activities such as walking and running. It is also very important to maintain strength in these muscles to prevent pain or discomfort from an uneven balance in the body.
Exercise Guides For Your Butt!
The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three muscles. This is the main muscle responsible for the shape of the buttocks. It is attached from the upper thigh bone to the pelvis and tailbone and its main responsibility is to maintain balance in the lower body during walking and running. While walking, this muscle will tighten as the heel of the foot makes impact with the ground to slow the forward movement of the leg. While running, this muscle will tighten on the stationary or standing leg to help control the forward movement of the lower body. As this muscle lifts the body from squatted positions, it also assists to propel the body forward when moving on inclines or uneven areas.
Popular exercises for building the gluteus maximus are squats, lunges and step ups (using your own body weight or with added resistance using dumbbells or a barbell). It is critical to use proper technique during squats to avoid injury by keeping the feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointed slightly outward, while keeping the core and upper body straight. Good posture is extremely important. Like squats, lunges can be performed using your own body weight or with dumbbells or a barbell for added resistance. With lunges, the body should remain centered while stepping forward and lunging to create a 90 degree angle in the knees. When performing step-ups you should use a step high enough to create a 90 degree angle with the knee and use the stepping leg to lift the body up and guide it back down to the floor with the floating leg.
The gluteus medius is slightly higher on the buttocks and about one-third is covered on its lower area by the gluteus maximus. This muscle is attached from the top of the pelvis to the outer edge of the upper thigh bone by a tendon formed at the base of the muscle. It is primarily responsible for the stability of the pelvis. It keeps the pelvis from dropping on the stationary side of the body as the foot is lifted off the ground. Weakness in this muscle will cause abnormal walking patterns from re-centering gravity through the body and can also result in less efficiency through shorter steps.
Great exercises for the gluteus medius start with an exercise called the “hydrant”. Position yourself on all fours with your arms directly under your shoulders, then straighten the leg and bring it up towards the side of the body. Lying leg lifts also help to promote strength in this muscle. Lay on one side with your underneath leg bent and bring one leg straight up to the side of the body creating a 90 degree angle with the body. The side-plank is similar to this exercise and it involves bringing the leg up from the body. It is a little different since you will be holding your body up using your elbow which is placed on the floor while keeping your body in a straight line. Another effective exercise to target the gluteal muscles is the one leg squat using just your body weight. This not only works your glutes, but it also targets your quadriceps and hamstrings very well. These are all great exercises to promote strength in the hips also which is a muscle that’s critical to the overall balance of the body.
The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the three muscles of the gluteal region and it has a triangular, fan-like shape. It is slightly separated from the medius by branches of the superior gluteal neurovascular bundle made up of nerves and blood vessels. It is primarily responsible for keeping the hip in place and has multiple functions such as moving the leg forward, to the side and the inward rotation of the thigh.
A few popular exercises to build the gluteus minimus are the hip hitch and the clam exercise. With the hip hitch, one leg should be on a step just slightly off the floor. Drop the opposite hip down and lift back up slowly, creating flexibility and strength. For the clam exercise, lay on the floor with both knees bent with your forearm supporting your head. Slowly lift the leg while not touching the floor and continuously tightening the buttocks. This exercise will also help with development of the medius. It’s very important to include gluteal training in your overall fitness plan to build up strength in this key area of your body.