Develop the full anatomy of your gluteal muscles for functionality and balance; exercises are included here to develop a glute routine to cover all of the butt muscles.
Developing full muscles that activate all components of its anatomy is an important aspect when living life and in other performance activities as well. Therefore, we need to focus on the functionality of it before we expect the exterior to look the way we think it should. Additionally, when the buttock muscles are excessively weak, imbalances in the body can occur because other muscles, such as the quadriceps and hip flexors, pick up the “slack” (no pun intended), and therefore must work harder.
Anatomy of the Gluteus
Before we start with any exercises for your buttocks, let’s first look at the anatomy of the glutes.
Gluteus Maximus - As this is the “show” muscle, hence the outermost layer of the butt, many people think the “glutes” are one muscle (i.e., the butt muscle). However, they consist of a group of three muscles: a) the gluteus maximus, b) gluteus medius and c) gluteus minimus muscles. The gluteus maximus is the biggest of the gluteals, a prime mover, and supports the other two glute muscles in various ways. The other two butt muscles also deserve attention.
Gluteus Medius – Underneath the maximus you can find the gluteus medius, connecting the hip bone (ilium) to the upper part of the thigh bone (femur). According to Macadam, Cronin and Contreras, 2015, the gluteus medius is responsible for abduction, internal and external rotation of the hip, and stabilization of the hip and pelvis during weight bearing activities. It is sometimes referred to as a “side-stepping” muscle.
Cooper et al., 2016, and Philippon et al.,2011, purport that, when this is weak and underactive, it can alter hip, knee and lower-back function, and is associated with lower-back pain.
Gluteus Minimus – This 3rd layer of muscle, gluteus minimus, from the maximus is beneath the medius and the smallest of the three muscles. Its functions include extension, abduction, flexion, and internal rotation of the hip.
The Lateral Rotator Group or “Deep Six” - Underneath these three main gluteal muscles are what are commonly referred to as the “deep six” or “lateral rotator group,” all of which externally rotate the femur in the hip joint. These muscles include:
(source: Yoga Journal)
Obturator internus (not pictured)
Deeper Anatomy Dive
If you’re interested in reviewing more about the origin, insertion point, action and nerve attachments to each of the gluteal areas, please visit the Loyola University Medical Education Network Master Muscle List, Muscles of the Pelvis and Perineum.
Outside of the exercises provided below, please feel free to refer to the rehabilitation exercises for gluteus medius and maxiumus from International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy.
Read the data for the research analysis on which of these are most effective, to decide which may be best for you. Or, try all of them, within physical limitations, to conduct your own study on what works best for your body.
Gluteus Exercises For All Three
Maximus – Squats using body weight or weighted with dumbbells or barbell, lunges, sprints, step-ups, bridges, yoga/stretch postures. Check out Dr. Axe’s information.
Medius - Ace Fitness recommends the following 6 exercises to target this area: side-lying hip abduction, clamshell, isometric single-leg wall lean, monster walks, lateral band walks, and banded triplanar toe taps.
Minimus – Try these 3 moves from LIVESTRONG and the stretch ending: bent knee side bridge, side bridge, transverse abduction, and seated pretzel stretch.
As with any routine, be sure to warm up prior to performing the exercises. Some may find a need to release some of the tension with some stretches afterwards. Or, if you prefer to hold the muscular tension for muscle development, minimize the stretching during the cool-down period.
The butt muscles include a total of 3 muscles including the “deep six” or lateral rotator groups. While the “show” muscle of the maximus is most targeted, it is also important to work the underlying medius and minimus for the best functionality and muscle balance and to make that maximus well rounded (pun very much intended). Exercises are included here to help develop a glute routine to cover all the bases. Have fun!
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