• Valentina Colombo


Updated: Sep 1

Glutes are the largest and strongest muscle group in the human body, but when you decide to train them, bear in mind that you are not training only the glutes. To date, the possibility of completely isolating them has not yet been demonstrated (article written by Valentina Colombo Sports and Exercise Scientist in Nottingham)

When you perform exercises “for glutes” such as hip thrust, deadlift, squats, back extensions, you are also training legs, core and partially the upper body; you are certainly working “mainly” on glutes, but you are not isolating them. And do you know why?

The glutes are made up of three muscles:

  • Gluteus maximus

  • Gluteus medium

  • Gluteus minimus

So far so normal, but if we look at what is “beyond” these three muscles, what do we find? Other muscles, which work together with glutes.

In a 2017 study, Neumann identified 21 muscles that interact with each other just at the hip level.

Muscles that allow us to move on all three planes of movement. It goes without saying that if we use them all to move, it is not possible to think that by training glutes we use only these 3 muscles.

Since the ancient times, glutes have always been a very attractive area of ​​the body for the human being; they can be found in different cultures, ethnic groups and eras.

If your goal is aesthetics, training the glutes will improve your body composition by increasing the percentage of lean mass and decreasing the percentage of fat mass, thus allowing you to sculpt your body. As said previously, you will train more muscle groups with exercises that have been labelled as "for glutes", making the workout more intense and consequently activating what is called the EPOC Effect “Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption.” A phenomenon that occurs after training and for which there is an increased consumption of oxygen; there are conflicting opinions in the scientific literature regarding the duration of this phenomenon.

The glutes allow us to extend the hips, move sideways and rotate our body; these are functional movements, therefore, if we train them we will see improvements in our performance in terms of movements like jerks, jumps, squats, changes of direction, throw… let’s consider the hammer throw for example: when a beginner approaches the hammer throw, they initially use the upper body more than the lower body. However, as they train and learn the correct technique, they will use their whole body and having strong glutes will allow them to get maximum power from hips and legs … If you know Marco Lingua, a hammer thrower from Chivasso (Italy) who achieved the tenth position at the 2017 London World Championships, he is currently preparing for Tokyo Olympics 2021 following a workout where the deadlift is helping him to increase the throw distance.

The hammer throw is just an example, if we want to look at completely different sports, for example the 100m run, training the glutes reinforces the final phase of the range of motion of the hip extension,that is the area most involved when there is contact with the ground during sprint; it is the most important area for the production of force and the forward propulsion of the body.

Training glutes to improve strength is probably the best reason to be constant, because you always want to improve and progress to see how far you can go and, above all, it is a measurable parameter, because if today I lift more than a month ago it means that I am stronger and if I continue to train constantly, who knows where I will be in a month. This desire for progression and the possibility of measurement leads you to be constant.

Here is a list of improvements that can be achieved by training glutes strength:

• Acceleration and maximum speed in sprint

• Power in bilateral and unilateral vertical jump, and in horizontal jump

• Agility and speed in direction changes

• Acceleration and maximum speed in the lateral sprint

• Power of rotation in swing, throwing and hitting

• Performance in running, jumping and throwing on the track and on the field

• Strength in squat and deadlift

• Power in snatch, clean and jerk in weightlifting

• Strength and conditioning for strongman athletes

• Strength in bridge, escape and submission and defense in sports like mixed martial arts (MMA)

• Strength in climbing and sprinting on an inclined plane

• Deceleration in lateral travel and rotation movements

• Horizontal thrust force in contact with the ground

If you are wondering what happens when glutes are weak, in general, when one muscle is weak, other muscles try to compensate for the lack of strength in this muscle. If the glutes are weak, legs and back muscles will have to do extra work to allow you to move and you will be more unstable.

Many studies have analyzed how a weak glutes can cause injuries to the lower limbs and a dangling posture. The weakness in the gluteus medius has been linked to the dynamic valgus movement, or a movement in which the knee tends to “fall” towards the medial side, therefore towards the inside of the leg, and to injuries related to the knee, hip and back.

On the other hand, the gluteus minimus has been recognized as of great importance in maintaining the alignment of the pelvis; a strong gluteus minimus helps prevent mobility limitations and falls in the elderly population.

Like other muscles, if glutes are well trained, they help to produce a large amount of force that is then reflected on other movements, even basic ones, but that are fundamental for daily movements, such as walking, climbing stairs, getting up from the chair and carrying weights, thus also improving the quality of life.

Therefore, if we think about the importance of glutes in everyday life, it is easy to understand why they cannot be left out in sports and physical activity.

Avoid glutes training would make you less strong, less efficient, less functional and above all at a greater risk of injury.

If you struggle with movement, muscle or joint pain, or you think you have weak glutes, get in touch and I will sort it out.


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