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Benefits of strong glutes: 4 reasons why it's so important to have strong glutes

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Strong glutes aren’t just important for a toned, shapely behind. From preventing back and knee pain, to improving your balance and offsetting hours of sitting at your desk – here’s why you should strengthen your glutes. 

Strong glutes are often depicted as the fitness holy grail. You just have to scroll through Instagram for the evidence – #squats has over 20.5m mentions, while #glutes have over 6.5m posts.

But why is it so important to condition these bum muscles?

“If you spend most of the day sitting down, your hip flexors get tight and your glutes become weak from inactivity,” explains pilates instructor and sports scientist Esther Goldsmith. “Females specifically need to focus more on their posterior chain, including the glutes, because, typically we’re stronger in our anterior chain – we’re more quad dominant in comparison to men.”

If you think a loss of butt bulk is a good thing, think again. As the body’s biggest single muscle group, there’s more at stake than just looking great in leggings – taking care of your glutes is essential for protecting yourself against back pain, while improving balance, posture and performance. 

Strong glutes prevent back, hip and knee injury

Research suggests that having strong, functional glutes can help you avoid and recover from injury in your lower back, hips and knees, by creating proper alignment and stability.

Having strong glutes, says Goldsmith, means “that the hip flexors take ‘less of the strain’ in a movement, and hip tightness can often cause lower back pain”.

“Strengthening your glutes helps you to connect with your body and give you an awareness of your alignment,” says Barry’s Bootcamp trainer Samantha Stone. “In my opinion, we should all activate them efficiently prior to any activity as they facilitate our training.”

Strong glutes can make you a faster runner

If you want to become a faster, less injury-prone runner, stretching and activating your glutes should become key components to your training. 

“From an athlete’s perspective, one of the benefits of strong glutes is that they will enhance performance in your sport and also generally in any other physical activity,” says Stone. 

“This is the case regardless of your goal – whether you want to be a faster runner, be more powerful with your lifts, increase your functional ability or generally have more endurance capacity.”

Strong glutes improve balance

Improved glute strength means improved balance, says Goldsmith. “Strong glutes essentially stabilise the whole leg.” 

“Strong glutes enable you to respond more freely to all movement, in a multi-directional way and in all spheres of exercise,” adds Stone. “I would describe them as the ‘powerhouse muscles’ for big compound moves. However, they also facilitate unilateral movement making you more stable and efficient too.”

Strong glutes improve posture

When your lower body and pelvis are in alignment, your shoulders, neck and back tend to follow.

“Another major benefit from a training perspective is posture,” says Stone. “Depending on the shape of your spine, the glutes generally act as a support system and as a buffer for any impact on the spine. Strong glutes can protect you; being such a big muscle group they are a driving force and also provide any necessary power required in a movement during sport or training.”

Strong glutes are critical to stabilising your pelvis, adds physiotherapist Sammy Margo, especially when running and walking. “Good alignment of the pelvis, hips, knees and ankles rely on strong glutes.”

How to strengthen your glutes

Glute exercises such as squats, deadlifts and lunges are good because they are compound exercises – which means they use multiple muscle groups, including the core

Otherwise, try this simple glute activation to ignite and strengthen your gluteus maximus.

  1. Lie on your stomach, and bend one knee to 90 degrees.
  2. Make sure your foot is flat; imagine you have a tray of champagne balanced on the top of your foot.
  3. Lift your leg up about 5cm and slowly lower again, without spilling a drop of the imagery fizz. Your glute should fire up and become the primary hip extensor.
  4. Repeat five times, then switch legs. That’s one set. You should aim to complete five sets of five repetitions on each leg.

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