Let’s talk glutes.
They play a key role in gait. They’re responsible for tracking our hips, knees and ankles, while keeping excessive load out of our lower backs when we move. They’re also a primary source of power, which helps you run better and yes, training your butt can have some aesthetic benefits too.
You might have heard that if your lower back or hips hurt that you have “weak” glutes, but I think that’s a pretty lazy answer that requires more nuance, so let’s talk about what strength might look like.
What does it mean to have “strong” glutes?
Your glutes are actually not one muscle group. They are many. Rather than obsessing over targeting any one muscle in that area, I think it’s worth considering, how strong are you in different positions?
*Note: The exercises in parenthesis are examples of strength training exercises that you can to do build the strength to make these things easier in other aspects of your life!
Your glutes should be able to work with all the muscles of your lower body to:
- Help you easily get in and out of chairs and up and down off of the floor (think squats)
- Support your back and hips when you pick up heavy objects (e.g. deadlifts)
- Control how forces move through your hips, knees, and lower back when you run, walk, hike, and climb up and down the stairs (e.g. step-ups, split squats, farmers carries, and lunges)
How do you do this? By strength training!
Best exercises to strengthen your glutes
Look, there is no one best exercise to strengthen your glutes. Rather, you’ll be best served following a strength program that strengthens ALL the muscles of your lower body, including your glutes, in multiple directions.
AND if you are having knee, hip, or back pain, you may need to consult a physical therapist for diagnosis or treatment and then in the post rehab phase (aka when you are working with a personal trainer), you may want to include some specific “accessory” exercises to target the directions that you are weaker in to better support your joints.
In terms of programming, this might mean following workouts or a program that include some version of the following exercises over several weeks while gradually increasing the weight as you get progressively stronger:
- Deadlifts (Learn how to do a deadlift the right way!)
- Squats (Get tips on how to squat with less pain here.)
- Split Squats or Lunges
- Farmers Carries
- Bridges or Hip Thrusts
- Accessory work, such as clamshells, side planks, donkey kicks, and more…
Need some help finding the right balance of specific glute exercises with a strength training program to reduce joint discomfort and increase mobility? I can help! Learn more about 1:1 virtual personal training and custom programming.