Well, this is a topic a lot of gym goers probably don’t think much about.
“Why would I care about having strong glutes?”
“What am I going to do with ass muscles hahaha”
“Only chicks care about their butt”
This was sort of the line of thinking I’ve had for a large portion of my lifting career. For the longest time I honestly never thought once about my glute strength and the impact they have not just on athletic performance, but how your physique looks as well.
This article does a great job of highlighting the role of your glute muscles and why they are so important, although in a nutshell:
- The glute is one of the prime drivers of hip mobility
- weak glutes cause other muscles excessive strain, leading to imbalances in the hamstrings/low back tightness/etc
Neglected Glutes Do Not Produce Happy Campers
One thing that I used to suffer from before properly is internal femur rotation. For the longest time I didn’t understand why it seemed like my right leg was so uncoordinated compared to my left, until I started to notice that my legs didn’t look quite the same. To demonstrate what I mean look at this picture:
See how in the picture the guy’s left knee doesn’t ALIGN with foot? It seems to be pointing slightly inwards. This is internal femur rotation, and one of the potential causes of this is weak or inactive glutes. Sure enough, once I started to focus on strengthening my glute medius, I started to notice this.
Try testing it yourself:
- stand up straight, legs locked out
- squeeze your glutes as hard as you can
- does ONE or BOTH of your knees get pushed out substantially? If so, you might have a weakness/imbalance
Our body is an incredibly complex amalgamation of muscles, and having even slight imbalances can result in conditions like this. For me personally, this lead to a general feeling of instability on my right leg and made me more prone to injury (think ligament tears or meniscus injury)
What i’m trying to highlight is that glute strength has huge implications for your coordination, balance, stability, functionality, and proneness to injury. Not to mention ALL of your lower body lifts will suffer if your glutes don’t activate properly.
How You Fix It
One thing that has really helped me is just being more conscious about engaging my glutes in every day activity. Even if i’m sitting, for example, I try to make sure they’re engaged instead of “letting my ass slide down the seat”.
Glute Ham Raises are awesome for strengthening the glutes. Take it from the glute master himself:
Assuming you’re using good form, the squat and deadlift will also target the glutes effectively. One cue I like to use when squatting to ensure glute recruitment is “push your knees out”. Focusing on pushing your knees out should promote proper knee alignment and glute activation to get you out of the hole. A complete lockout involves squeezing your glutes at the top, too!
If you have extremely weak glutes, you might need to do some mobility and activation work just to get them firing correctly again. From there, glute ham raises are great for strengthening. Once you get the glutes working like they should I bet you’ll see your squat numbers start to go up substantially!
Well, that’s it for now. I just wanted to highlight that glutes (despite the neglect they receive) are an incredibly important muscle group. So put down the dumbbells and give your arms a rest and start working on that butt! While you’re around, go learn why squatting is so important.