The Importance of Glute Strength

When it comes to lower body strength, most people focus on the quadriceps and hamstrings that largely make up the thighs.

And the glutes? These muscles are important, but they get enough indirect stimulation from Romanian deadlifts, squats, and similar, right?

Well, that’s true, but only to an extent. Like any muscle in the body, the glutes offer numerous benefits and respond to direct work.

Read on to learn how to improve glute strength and what benefits you will enjoy.

The Importance of Glute Strength

The gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful muscle in the entire body. It serves a crucial role in many activities, including jumping, running, and lifting weights. 

Along with the glute medius and minimus, the glute max makes up a significant portion of the core musculature. The muscle group is necessary for proper pelvic alignment, hip stability, the prevention of lower back pain, and more.

Strong glutes promote stability, making it easier to maintain balance while working out, playing sports, and carrying out everyday tasks. In addition, glute strength can reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.

Some data also suggests that stronger glutes can promote a better posture due to the muscle group’s ability to extend the body.

How to Improve Glute Strength

Given the complex structure and function of the glutes, only relying on a couple of exercises won’t be enough to promote optimal development of the maximus, medius, and minimus.

But before we dive into exercise recommendations, it’s important to briefly look at muscle activation. You can’t hope to train and develop the glutes optimally unless you learn how to activate the area in your training.

Start with simple activities that feature hip extension and leg adduction/abduction to improve glute activation. Doing so will help you target all three muscles.

Here are some simple activities you can start doing:

  • Glute bridge/single-leg glute bridge
  • Glute kicks
  • Standing lateral leg raise
  • Side-lying leg raise
  • Bird dog
  • Clamshells

The objective is to perform slow repetitions and consciously try to activate your glutes on every repetition. Don’t rush the process, and don’t introduce external resistance too early.

Once you’re capable of engaging the glutes and possibly even experience some muscle soreness in the area, proceed to more challenging exercises and gradually introduce external weights.

For instance, instead of doing countless reps on the glute bridge, transition to hip thrusts and use a barbell to load your glutes. In addition, consider ankle weights or resistance bands for bird dog, clamshells, glute kicks, and other exercises.

As for frequency, research suggests that training our muscles more often is better for strength gain. You can do exercises for your glutes twice per week and eventually bump the frequency to three times if you feel the need.

For example:

  • Monday - quad, hamstring, and calve exercises + some light glute work
  • Thursday - glute-focused workout, consisting of some compound and assistance exercises

As with any other muscle, progressive overload will play a significant role in your development. Aim for steady improvements (more reps, weight, etc.) while maintaining proper form and feeling your glutes activate on every rep.

March 06, 2023 — Daniel Felstein

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