During a leg workout, it’s your quadriceps and hamstrings that get all of the attention. Sure, your glutes or butt muscles are activated during squats and reverse lunges, but not to the extent they need to be to see proper strength gains.
There are three glute muscles – maximus, medius, and minimus – that work together to allow for proper flexion and rotation of your legs, and execution of exercises. When your glutes become weak, this poses the risk for muscle overcompensation and injury to the lower back. Those who work a desk job are especially prone to weak glute muscles.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of having strong glutes and the top five exercises to strengthen your glute muscles.
5 Benefits of Strengthening Your Glutes
Why should you bother with strengthening your glute muscles? Strong glutes can improve your athletic performance and reduce your risk for injury. Here are a few more reasons you should focus on getting strong glutes:
Weight Management: Adding glute-focused exercises into your workout routine will help to burn more calories, supporting your goal to lose fat, get shredded, or maintain a healthy weight. Pairing up glute exercises with a thermogenic slimming belt is a sure way to get lean.
Athletic Performance: We often don’t associate the glutes as power muscles, but when performing a squat, where do you think that power to stand back up comes from? Strengthening the glutes is going to have real-world application in your workouts and performance. For example, studies show stronger glutes help improve your running¹.
Better Posture: If you work at a desk, you’re already aware of the strain on your body. Your shoulders are slouched, your upper back is sore, and your core isn’t seeing any activation. Over time, this can lead to a slumped posture and weak lower back. As a result, lower back pain can begin. Strengthening your glutes has been shown to improve posture and alleviate lower back pain.²
Bad posture is no joke. Pelvic tilt, a common side effect of bad posture, can wreak havoc on your body especially during your workouts. Read more about the dangers of pelvic tilt.
Lower Risk of Injury: Continuing with the point above, when you have weak glute muscles, the surrounding muscles need to pitch in more to compensate. This extra work will initially cause soreness that becomes pain. If the lower back or hamstrings continue to be overworked to pick up the slack from the glutes, you’ll dramatically increase your risk for injury. A lower back injury from a squat due to weak glutes is one of the most common gym injuries. Strengthen those glutes and you’ll protect yourself from injury.
Have a Nice Butt: Functionality aide, let’s talk about aesthetics: Exercising your glutes as you would your legs, chest, or back is going to give you a muscular and shapely butt. Jeans will fit better, and regardless if you’re a guy or girl, heads will be turning. Get some attention for that hard work.
Top 5 Exercises for Your Glutes
In a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, researchers wanted to determine which exercises activated the glute muscles the most³ . Here are the top five exercises for your glutes that you should start incorporating into your workout:
1. Side Plank with Hip Abduction
- Lie on your left side with your legs stacked
- Elevate yourself using your left elbow
- Lift the right leg up and down
- Be sure to maintain a straight and aligned posture throughout
2. Single Leg Squat
- Place a chair nearby for balance
- With your chest up and back straight, extend the arms out in front of your
- Raise your left foot out in front of you as well
- Focusing the tension in the right leg, slowly descend
- Pause when your thigh comes to parallel with the ground
- Return to the starting position
If you have knee issues, consider using a knee sleeve to help with your performance and alleviate soreness. Not sure if you should be using a knee wrap or a knee sleeve? Find out which is better for you with our knee wrap vs. knee sleeve article.
- Lie on your left side
- Stack your legs but keep the knees bent at a 45-degree angle
- Support your head with your left arm
- Make sure your feet stay touching throughout the exercise
- Lift the upper knee without raising your hips
- Your legs will form a clamshell shape
- Pause, lower, and repeat
4. Lateral Step-Up
- Place a sturdy box next to you or stand next to stairs – The left side of your body will face the object
- Raise your left leg up and to the side
- Secure your footing and lift yourself up
- Slowly step back down
- Once finished, repeat on the other side
5. Back-Elevated Glute Bridge
- Begin by keeping your shoulder blades on a bench,
- Keep yourself stable with your arms
- You may have to begin with your butt a little bit off the floor if your shoulders are not able to get to the bench
- Ensure that your feet are flat on the floor by bending your knees to about 90 degrees
- Breathe in and exhale all your air out, and brace your core
- Squeeze your glutes as you raise your hips up
- Slowly lower to the starting position
What Exercise Do You Use to Strengthen Your Glutes?
Do you use an exercise we missed? Want more information about any of the exercises we mentioned above? Check out our other articles!