GLUTES = Good looking upright tantalizing energetic sloths
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body. This prime mover should be large and powerful because it has the perpetual task of keeping the trunk in an erect posture while working against gravity. Unfortunately the glutes are more like sleeping giants than powerhouses for most of the population because we sit on our butts all day long, develop tight hip flexors (which puts the glutes at a mechanical disadvantage) and we rarely sprint, squat or thrust explosively which is required for healthy growth and development. Let’s face it – most of us aren’t nearly as active as we should be. The hips generate lots of force and create movement, be it walking, sprinting, jumping, cutting or rotating. When we are sedentary our strategy for movement is compromised and the large muscles that are responsible for movement don’t pull their weight and the smaller stabilizers work overtime to stabilize the hip, pelvis and spine.
Here is a blueprint that absolutely everyone will benefit from following:
- Release the tight muscles in the hip including the deep 6 hip rotators which are best targeted right near the ball and socket (piriformis, superior gemullus, inferior gemullus, obturator internus, obturator externus and quadratus femoris), as well as the tensor fascia latae, iliacus and rectus femoris on the front aspect of the body
- Activate the glute maximus and medius and then integrate with movement. If a muscle group isn’t getting the job done our nervous system is very intelligent and will simply ask a neighbouring muscle group(s) to help out and work overtime.
- While heavy lifts such as squats, deadlifts, hip thrusters and lunges are phenomenal higher level exercises that target the glutes the most effective activation drills don’t require heavy weights. Most of us can simply use body weight in challenging, provocative positions. You must be able to control your own body weight and demonstrate optimal motor control before adding weight.
- Office workers, athletes, body builders, models and anyone else with a heartbeat will benefit tremendously from building their glute awareness, endurance and power.
- The glute maximus is involved in five movements: hip extension, hip hyperextension, hip abduction, hip external rotation, hip transverse abduction. If walking is the most arduous workout you’ve performed over the past week you’re looking at the ‘use it or lose’ scenario.
- Research on length/tension relationships of muscles indicate that a muscle contracts most effectively when it’s at its resting length, which means the glute maximus contracts the hardest at 0-20 degrees of extension. Translation = we need to get lots of repetitions of extension.
- Attain optimal hip flexion mobility in order to open up the hips and maximally activate the glutes.
- Hip flexor mobility allows for hip extension which means tight hip flexors prevent glute maximus activation. If your hip flexors and hip deep external rotators are tight you need to calm them down with self-myofascial release using the Rad Roller tools.
For more information regarding gluteal muscle activation during common therapeutic exercises check out this study by Distefano, et al. to discover more exercises to add to your routine.