For many people, the only reason to train the glutes is for the aesthetic benefit, but the reality is strong glutes have a host of health benefits associated with them, such as reducing lower back pain, improving knee and ankle stability and increasing your athleticism.
The glutes’ main role is to stabilise the pelvis and the hips. They are the largest muscle group in the body and consists of 3 muscles: Gluteus Minimus, Gluteus Medius, and Gluteus Maximus. Each muscle has a different role and can be trained in certain ways to optimise their functions.
Gluteus Minimus: This is the deepest and smallest of the gluteal muscles. It abducts and medially rotates the lower limb. During locomotion (movement of the limb), it secures the pelvis, preventing pelvic drop of the opposite limb.
Exercise: side lying hip abduction with medial rotation of the hip
Gluteus Medius: this muscle is fan shaped and lies between the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus. It abducts and medially rotates the lower limb. To be a little more specific, the anterior portion of gluteus medius abducts and assists in flexion and medial rotation of then hip and the posterior aspect does the opposite, extends and externally rotates the hip.
Exercise: standing hip abduction with cable
Glute Maximus: this is the largest of the glutes and is the most superficial, producing the shape of the buttocks. Its main action is to extend the thigh (draw is back) and assists with lateral rotation. However, it is only used when force is required, such as running or climbing.
Exercises: Standing hip extension with cable
Being able to understand what each muscle does can help determine what exercises will be most suited to your specific goals and needs. It makes your training not only more effective but also more efficient. It’s also empowering to understand why things are working and why things may not be working in your exercise prescription.