The gluteus maximus is not just for looks; it is one of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body. However, if you aren’t moving your body correctly or spend too much time in your day just simply using the glutes as a pillow, you may have “glute amnesia.” The glutes are physically present but they may not be activating as they should which leaves the other smaller muscles trying to do a job that they can’t handle and this can lead to injury.
The gluteus maximus is the largest of three major muscles that make up the “glutes:” the other two are gluteus medius and minimus. The job of the glutes in a nutshell is to move the hip and thigh; they primarily extend, rotate and abduct the thigh from the pelvis which allows us to stand up, squat, jump, walk and move about in an upright position. The glutes are key in stabilization of the femur (thigh bone) within the hip socket and coordinating body movements.
Here are three simple exercises to start at home today to turn on the glutes and make sure your moving the best you can.
- Clamshell: This exercise will target the gluteus medius and some of the deeper hip rotators. Lie on your side with your hips and knees stacked and open your knees apart, keeping your feet together and without letting your hips fall backward. Add a resistance band around your knees to increase the load. Complete 2-3 sets of 1 minute on each side, alternating back and forth
- Bridge: This exercise will target the gluteus maximus. Lie on your back with your knees bent and core tight. Drive your hips up toward the ceiling, pressing into the ground with your heels and squeeze your glutes and hold for 1-2 seconds at the top, then lower with control and repeat 10-15 times. You can progress this to a single leg bridge. You can also add a resistance band around your knees or place your feet on a foam roll to increase the challenge. Focus on making and feeling your glutes at work during the exercise.
- Split squat: Place one foot back on a chair such when you bend into a lunge, the standing knee bends in line with the 2nd toe and does not pass the front of the foot. Lower down into a lunge position and then return to standing. Drive through your heel and focus on feeling you glutes work to carry this movement