What/where are Your Glutes?
Your ‘glutes’ — gluteal muscles (or simply “glutes”) — refer to the muscles in your butt. Three major muscles reside in this area: gluteus maximus (the main muscle that gives your backside its shape), your gluteus medius and your gluteus minimus (two smaller muscles assisting the glute max).
What is Glute Activation?
Glute activation means your glutes are “switched on”. Inactive glutes are weak and not utilized as they should be. Activating and switching on your muscles allows them to be more effectively strengthened.
What Causes Weak Glutes?
Weak glutes can be caused by a sedentary (physically inactive) lifestyle, or daily habits that primarily involve extended periods of sitting (lots of driving or sitting at a desk). Poor body mechanics or ergonomics may also be the culprit. Even if you do a lot of glute specific exercises, if they’re not activated first or your form isn’t correct then your exercises may not be targeting the muscles you intend.
Why is Glute Activation Important?
- IMPROVE POSTURE, DECREASE LOW BACK PAIN
Properly engaged and strengthened glutes help you extend your hips, helping you stand upright. In this way, they act as a basis for good posture and can help decrease low back pain.
- SUPPORT EXERCISE AND MOVEMENT
The glutes are one of the most powerful muscle groups in the body, helping propel you forward during walking, running, jogging, and cycling. They also aide with daily activities involving dynamic movement such as bending and lifting, helping you stabilize your core.
- AVOID IMBALANCE, HELP PREVENT INJURY
Effective glute strength helps prevent an over-reliance on your hamstrings and also helps your knees track properly during daily activity. With stronger glutes and hips you’re less likely to lose balance, which becomes increasingly more important as we age.
- BURN CALORIES
Muscle is metabolically active, meaning that even when you’re not working out, your muscles will burn calories from stored fat. In fact, studies suggest that for every pound of muscle you build, your body will burn an extra 50 calories per day! Given that the glutes and hamstrings are two of the largest muscle groups in the body, focusing on strengthening them should not be overlooked if you want to burn extra fat. Try incorporating a variety of squats and lunges in a whole-body-compound-lift style circuit to build muscle and continue burning calories for 24 to 48 hours after your workout is over.
- BONE DENSITY
Shockingly, issues with bone density can start as early as age 30. Old or damaged bone is resorbed faster than new bone is formed resulting in increased risk of osteopenia which is lower than normal bone density and osteoporosis (a progressive bone disease). Activities that place mechanical stress on the bones like lower body weight training, running and some forms of yoga, can delay or even reverse these bone density issues. The earlier you start weight training, the better!
Hopefully now you have a better idea of what glutes do, why activation is important, and how properly engaged and strengthened glutes can support physical wellbeing. Call to schedule a consult with our Physical Therapist to discuss your physical fitness goals to help target your glutes and more.