If you take a look at fitness magazines here and there, you will almost always see featured articles about getting flat abs and a great butt. Clearly, these are focused on aesthetics, playing into dreams of a great body, starting with a couple of “key” areas.
This type of thinking does a disservice to people as well as their abs and butts!
It is more about what these body parts do for us that is important, and how to take care of them so that they are there for us. If you want to get them totally ripped, that may be an extra bonus. However, it is apparent that we need these areas for more than just looks.
Enough about that. Let’s move on to one of the areas mentioned above. That would be the butt, or glutes. Let’s dive into what it does for us, and how we can keep it functioning well. Learning a bit more about the muscles involved and what they do will reveal dynamic possibilities for exercising them.
Why Does This Matter?
Because glutes are there for us in many ways. Not only do they help us squat, go upstairs, and walk, run, skip, jump. They stabilize our pelvis as we move, contribute to great posture and good alignment, and help our balance.
Many exercises that support these endeavors are linear. But, actually, non-linear activities like rotation, cross-overs, and transverse or side stepping (there are examples below) are important functions for our glutes. These functions provide basic movement as well as support for much of what our bodies do on a regular basis.
Our glutes are actually made of three different muscles that enable them to be so dynamic.
First of all, there is Gluteus maximus. This is the major player, the one that gives our backside most of its shape. It is often mentioned in the squat exercise. But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what that muscle does for us. This glute moves our leg to the back, rotates it outwards, brings it to the side (abduction), and brings it across our bodies (adduction).
You could use your imagination and realize that, for example, if you play tennis, this muscle is helping you get all over the court and in place to make a shot. In everyday life, it is active when you get in and out of a car, lunge down to pick something up off the floor, or even step out of the way of something in your path.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of other players to mention. That would be the glute medius and glute minimus, which often work together. The glute medius rotates your thigh inwards, and the two work together along with the glute maximus to bring your leg to the side (abduction). These guys are also key players when it comes to stabilizing your pelvis (stopping it from dipping or twisting) and helping you maintain your balance.
Good stuff, right? Little wonder that these three muscles are centrally located in your body. They have a lot to contribute.
What are some exercises that you can do to support some of the less obvious functions like balance, stability, rotation and cross body moves?
Here’s a few examples. These are shown using dumbbells, but they can also be done without.
- Curtsy lunge. Stand tall, feet facing forward, holding dumbbells down at your sides (optional). With your right foot, step behind you and across. At the same time, bend both knees so that you are in a lunge/squat position. Push back to the original position. Do the same with your left foot. Alternate 10 times or do one side at a time.
- One-legged bridge. Lay on a mat, knees bent, feet on the floor. Cross right foot over the left knee. Pushing through the left heel, push your torso up into a bridge, keeping your spine neutral. Return back to the floor. Repeat 10 times. Do the same on the other side.
- Split squat with rotation. Holding a dumbbell to your chest (optional), place your left foot on a bench or chair while stabilizing with your right, which is a short distance in front. This will create a split squat position. Lower down into a squat, keeping knees tracking forward. As you reach the lowest point of the squat, rotate your torso to the right and then back again. Come up from that squat, and repeat 10 times. Repeat with the right leg behind you, and rotating to the left as you go down. Variation: Place your right or left foot behind you on the floor but only touching it with your toe.
Throw these into an exercise routine for good variations that will touch on the many functions of your glutes.
© 2020 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.