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Best Exercises And Stretches To Strengthen Your Gluteus Maximus

Gluteus maximus, also known as the glutes are the largest and most powerful muscle group in your body. Simply put, gluteus maximus is a biological term used for your buttocks that are also consisting of gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. Out of the three, gluteus maximus is the largest muscle and most prone to weakness and injuries. A sedimentary and uneventful lifestyle, which has become quite common is the major reason for the gluteus maximus becoming weak.

Gluteus maximus, the muscles of your legs span across the joints of hips, ankles and knees. This large muscle is responsible for supporting your core and hips, which includes the muscles of the lower back and pelvis region. The gluteus maximus allows your body to bend over, squat down, run, stand up straight and maintain the movements in line with proper posture. Therefore making it easily prone to injuries and stress [1] , [2] .

Being the largest of the glutes, gluteus maximus supports the other glute muscles in various ways. The glutes are the strongest muscles in an individual who is active and can promote better physical actions and activity. That is, it is critical that one's gluteus maximus is maintained well so as to carry out physical activities and basic movements [3] .

Benefits Of Strong Gluteus Maximus

Before exploring the ways through which you can improve your muscles, take a look into the benefits of possessing strong and stable gluteus maximus muscles [4] .

  • Stabilises the pelvis.
  • Supports the hip.
  • Helps with running and other activities that are of high intensity and involve liftoff.
  • Supports the back muscles.
  • Stabilises the femur or thigh bone.

Possessing strong and healthy gluteus maximus muscles to help climb stairs, balance your lower body, jump, lift and lower while sitting and also with thrusting movements. Therefore, it is essential that you pay attention to your glutes, so as to avoid physical restraints. Now, let's get to know the injuries affecting your glutes, in the event of lack of physical activity and movement (resulting in weakness of the gluteus maximus muscles [5] .

Injuries Affecting The Gluteus Maximus

One of the major parts of your body, the muscles can get negatively affected by improper training or injuries due to poor form [6] . When taken less care of, the gluteus maximus can cause imbalances in the body or elevate the injuries concerned with the muscles, especially the muscles in the front of the thighs (quads).

Some of the major causes of these injuries are caused due to exertion and over-working the muscles in the concerned area, and these can worsen with the lack of proper rest. In the same line, the gluteus maximus can weaken and become unstable when someone doesn't get enough physical activity. Such as sitting for hours at a desk and live a sedentary lifestyle mostly [7] .

So, some of the common injuries affecting the gluteus maximus are as follows [8] :

  • Hip pain.
  • Lower extremity injuries such as knee or ankle injuries.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Reduced stabilisation of the pelvis.
  • Trouble running, walking or doing activities that involve stability, flexibility and strength in the legs and hips.
  • Overall tightness of the body.
  • Reduced range of physical motion during normal activities.

Exercises For Gluteus Maximus

The primary and central means to improve the strength and stability of the group of muscles by following exercises and stretches that specifically focus on improving the core strength of your glutes [9] .

1. Barbell or weighted squats

These are performed using a barbell or weight bar. In order to perform this exercise, stand with your feet apart and hold a barbell or free weights at shoulder height. Keep your spine straight and move into the squat by retracting your hips and then pulling them backwards. Bend your knees until your thighs become parallel to the ground and push back up until your back is straight. Repeat this for 5-10 times, depending on the weight you use [10] .

2. Romanian deadlifts

Also performed using a barbell or a weight bar, this exercise requires you to bend your hips and knees and lift the weight off the floor. While lifting the weight, keep your straight and extend your knees and hips to rise with the weight. Your back will remain straight throughout the exercise, with your elbows extended. As the finishing move, lower the weight to the ground again in your standing position [11] .

3. Lunges

Keep your spine neutral and head up, then place your hands on the hips and step forward with one foot until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Drop your back knee down and balance on your back toes. While doing this, keep your back straight in line with our back knee and thigh. Go back to your position by pushing off your front foot and stepping the legs together [12] .

You can also do lateral lunges or step back lunges.

4. Sprints

Although all types of running, bet it jogging or casual running can be beneficial for your glutes. But, sprinting at a high speed is comparatively more effective for the gluteus maximus, studies point out. Begin by increasing your usual jogging speed and 15-20 minutes intervals and then increase to 25-30 minutes. You can do this 2-3 times a week [13] .

5. Step-ups

Performed using a 12- to 18-inch step, step-ups are similar to lunges and squats because it can also be performed with or without weights. Use a block or a bench placed in front of you and place one foot forward with the knee bent. Make sure your front knee is right over your ankle and the chest is upright. Then, lean forward and step off your front leg and bend your back leg and bring it near your stomach. After that, step back in the same direction and repeat [14] .

If you are using weights, make sure to keep it swinging downward, so as to add resistance.

6. Glute bridges

For this one, you need to lay down on your back, bend your knees and bring them to parallel by keeping some distance. Then, push at the bottom of your feet and rise with your heels, extending your hips. Keeping your chin tucked to your chest, reverse to lower your hips down [15] .

7. Yoga positions

There are various postures and poses in yoga, that can benefit your gluteus maximus. Most of it poses similarities to lunges and squats. Some of the commonly followed yoga postures are warrior 2, chair, bridge or wheel pose [14] .

Do the glute exercises for three to four times per week. Chose the most applicable one from the list, that is, chose a type of exercise that is fitting to your physical condition and comfort. Or, you can also perform each exercise for 45-60 seconds with a 15-second break between. On your first day, perform two sets or two rounds in total and once you become familiar with the exercises, you may do three to four sets or rounds in total.

Stretches For Gluteus Maximus

Apart from the above-mentioned exercise methods, there are some stretches advisable for improving the strength of gluteus maximus. Also called as glute stretches, you can try these for 5 to 15 minutes every day [16] . The stretches advised are as follows:

  • Forward bend
  • Foam rolling
  • Cross-legged gluteal stretch
  • Hip flexor "crescent" lunge

Precautions

  • Resist clenching the butt during the exercises as it can aggravate the lower back and sacroiliac (SI) joint [17] .
  • Make sure that your spine is upright and your core engaged during the exercises.
  • Do not externally rotate the hips.
  • Consult a fitness guide and your doctor before adopting the exercise methods [18] .

On A Final Note...

Between each round of exercises, make sure to give your muscles a break for 2 minutes. And, so as to build strength evenly and to avoid overuse of your muscles, give your body proper rest throughout the week. Do not rush the exercises but take your time in learning it and then practice it.

View Article References
  1. [1] Holm, T., Ljung, A., Häggmark, T., Jurell, G., & Lagergren, J. (2007). Extended abdominoperineal resection with gluteus maximus flap reconstruction of the pelvic floor for rectal cancer.British Journal of Surgery: Incorporating European Journal of Surgery and Swiss Surgery,94(2), 232-238.
  2. [2] Minami, R. T., Mills, R., & Pardoe, R. (1977). Gluteus maximus myocutaneous flaps for repair of pressure sores.Plastic and reconstructive surgery,60(2), 242-249.
  3. [3] Van der Linden, M. L., Hazlewood, M. E., Aitchison, A. M., Hillman, S. J., & Robb, J. E. (2003). Electrical stimulation of gluteus maximus in children with cerebral palsy: effects on gait characteristics and muscle strength.Developmental medicine and child neurology,45(6), 385-390.
  4. [4] Boren, K., Conrey, C., Le Coguic, J., Paprocki, L., Voight, M., & Robinson, T. K. (2011). Electromyographic analysis of gluteus medius and gluteus maximus during rehabilitation exercises.International journal of sports physical therapy,6(3), 206.
  5. [5] Paris, W. S., & Knipp, R. (1986).U.S. Patent No. 4,609,193. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  6. [6] Anderin, C., Martling, A., Lagergren, J., Ljung, A., & Holm, T. (2012). Short‐term outcome after gluteus maximus myocutaneous flap reconstruction of the pelvic floor following extra‐levator abdominoperineal excision of the rectum.Colorectal disease,14(9), 1060-1064.
  7. [7] Chandra, A., Mishra, B., Kumar, S., Chopra, N., Gupta, V., Dangi, A., ... & Gupta, V. (2019). Composite Antropyloric Valve and Gluteus Maximus Muscle Wrap for Neoanal Reconstruction: Initial Results.Diseases of the Colon & Rectum,62(1), 104-111.
  8. [8] Navandar, A., Veiga, S., Torres, G., Chorro, D., & Navarro, E. (2018). A previous hamstring injury affects kicking mechanics in soccer players.The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness,58(12), 1815-1822.
  9. [9] Campion, T., & Cross, S. (2017). The spectrum of injuries in buttock stab wounds.Clinical radiology,72(7), 543-551.
  10. [10] Distefano, L. J., Blackburn, J. T., Marshall, S. W., & Padua, D. A. (2009). Gluteal muscle activation during common therapeutic exercises.journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy,39(7), 532-540.
  11. [11] Paoli, A., Marcolin, G., & Petrone, N. (2009). The effect of stance width on the electromyographical activity of eight superficial thigh muscles during back squat with different bar loads.The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,23(1), 246-250.
  12. [12] Zink, A. J., Whiting, W. C., Vincent, W. J., & Mclaine, A. J. (2001). The effects of a weight belt on trunk and leg muscle activity and joint kinematics during the squat exercise.The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research,15(2), 235-240.
  13. [13] MacAskill, M. J., Durant, T. J., & Wallace, D. A. (2014). GLUTEAL MUSCLE ACTIVITY DURING WEIGHTBEARING AND NON‐WEIGHTBEARING EXERCISE.International journal of sports physical therapy,9(7), 907.
  14. [14] Abdo, J. S. (2010).U.S. Patent No. 7,691,041. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  15. [15] Ford, K. R., Nguyen, A. D., Dischiavi, S. L., Hegedus, E. J., Zuk, E. F., & Taylor, J. B. (2015). An evidence-based review of hip-focused neuromuscular exercise interventions to address dynamic lower extremity valgus.Open access journal of sports medicine,6, 291.
  16. [16] Ylinen, J., Kankainen, T., Kautiainen, H., Rezasoltani, A., Kuukkanen, T., & Häkkinen, A. (2009). Effect of stretching on hamstring muscle compliance.Journal of rehabilitation medicine,41(1), 80-84.
  17. [17] O connor, D. M., Crowe, M. J., & Spinks, W. L. (2006). Effects of static stretching on leg power during cycling.Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness,46(1), 52.
  18. [18] D'Amico, J., Betlach, M., Senkarik, R., Smith, R., & Voight, M. (2007). Return to golf following left total hip arthroplasty in a golfer who is right handed.North American journal of sports physical therapy: NAJSPT,2(4), 251.

Read more about: exercise yoga stretch caution
Story first published: Monday, May 27, 2019, 15:23 [IST]
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