Five exercises to strengthen your glutes
Glutes, glutes, glutes!
Your gluteal muscles, that is, your gluteal maximus, medius and minimus, (or glutes max, med and min), are essential to keep a strong and healthy back. Desk-based jobs have caused us to increasingly underuse their glutes, resulting in weakness and tightness. This glute weakness is a very common cause of back pain.
Working to increase strength and endurance will not only provide support in your low back, but also take pressure from your knees and hips, giving you the freedom to move freely and feel more powerful.
The glute muscles are also essential for having good balance. If you are a walker, runner, skier, a tennis player or golfer, having strength in the glutes ensures strong and stable hips, and will make you more efficient in your activity.
When training your glutes, it is essential to work not only on building strength, but to ensure that tissue flexibility is also a part of training. In most exercises, the muscle shortens whilst being worked (also known as a concentric movement). The muscle will remain shortened and tight if not properly released and potentially cause discomfort.
Similarly, if you start training a muscle that is already short and tight, you reduce the effectiveness of the exercise by only working a muscle in a restricted range, rather than a full range.
Progression is key
To see an improvement when training, it is imperative to progress your exercises. This can be through:
- Increased repetitions of the exercises
- Increased frequency of your training
- Increased load to the exercises
It is easy to increase the load and challenge yourself when training glutes by adding in resistance bands to the exercises or progressing the exercises into standing. The benefit of standing exercises is that they are more functional i.e they replicate movement done in everyday life such as moving from sit to stand, or going up stairs, running and skiing.
So what are the best exercises for strengthening and mobilising the glutes?
1. Mobility exercise: Glute release using a foam roller
2. Mobility Exercise: Lumbar Rotation
3. Strengthening Exercise: Glute Bridge with Spinal Articulation
4. Strengthening Exercise: Clam
5. Strengthening Exercise: Bicycle
6. Strengthening Exercise: Side Step with Band
7. Strengthening Exercise: Split Squat
If you are a beginner we recommend starting with 10 reps of each strengthening exercise and working at them daily. If you are already doing regular exercise then you can increase the reps aiming to 15-20 reps of each exercise.
If you think you can handle more of a challenge then you can look to increase sets (aim to do 2 or 3 sets of each of the strengthening exercises) or add in a resistance band to the clam, or a harder resistance hand to the side step, or dumbbell weights to the split squat.
Always remember that quality and technique is far more important than the numbers of reps achieved. If you can get through the exercises without batting an eye lid, then check your set up position, and slow down the pace of each repetition so that your muscles are put under tension and strain for a longer period of time.