It may be the butt of many a joke, but the gluteus maximus is no joke at all. You’re about to find out why it’s really “All About That Bass” (no treble).
The gluteus maximus is a large muscle that spans all the way across the buttocks from the hips. It is the main extensor muscle of the hip. Without the gluteus maximus, we would not be able to stand erect, walk, run, squat—or do any activity that involves movement in the lower body.
The glutes also support the back, and weak glute muscles can lead to back pain in the long run.
You should be stretching and working out your body’s biggest muscle group for many reasons. First, so that you don’t end up having back pain or hip pain later on. Second, to strengthen your body so that you can move up, down, forward, backward, and side to side with ease and flexibility. Third, to increase your metabolic rate. Fourth, to have a great-looking behind.
There are probably numerous other reasons, but those are enough for us to get started on some effective butt workouts.
Best Gluteus Maximus Exercises
There’s no better way to work on your glutes, legs, hips, core, and lower back than by doing squats. Weighted squats are necessary if you’re looking to build up muscle in your glutes and legs. Use heavier weights for better results.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly turned out. Hold a weight in each hand at shoulder height. Hinge at the hips and bend your knees until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Push back up using your leg and glute muscles. Repeat 5–10 times.
For this exercise, you don’t need weights or any other equipment at all.
Start in a standing position with your hands on your hips. Step forward with one foot until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Drop your back knee down toward the ground and balance on your back toes. Make sure that your back is straight and in line with your back thigh and knee. Push off your front foot and step back, bringing your feet together. Repeat 5–10 times, first with one leg and then with the other.
You can perform this exercise holding weights in each hand to make it more challenging.
Using a block and bench or any other stable raised surface, step up with one leg so that your knee is right above your ankle and your leg is bent at a 90-degree angle. Step up and raise your back leg behind you, making sure not to rotate your pelvis outward. Slowly lower your back leg down until your toes meet the heel of your other foot, and then step down. Repeat 5–10 times on each leg.
This exercise can be described as a “plank for your backside.”
Lie on your back on an exercise mat or towel with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Your feet should be flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Engage your core, bringing your belly button toward your spine so that your back is flat on the floor. Keep your core engaged as you push through your feet and raise your hips as high as you can while keeping your back straight. Hold the position for 3–5 seconds and then slowly lower your hips down, staying engaged the whole time. Repeat 5–10 times.
When you do this exercise, picture your legs as a clamshell opening and closing.
Lie on your side with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your heels should be together, and your feet should be in line with your butt. Open your knees as far as you can without rotating your hips or back. Hold for a few seconds and repeat 5–10 times.
Best Gluteus Maximus Stretches
Stretches are just as important as exercises. They ensure that your muscles stay relaxed and flexible, they prevent injury, and they speed recovery. The following stretches are great for relaxing those glutes and staving off back pain and hip pain. Hold each stretch for 15–30 seconds.
Lie on your back on an exercise mat or towel with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle, your feet flat on the floor. Place your right ankle on your left knee so that your right knee is pointing out, away from your body. Reach forward with both arms and grab onto the back of your left thigh, bringing your left knee toward your chest. Hold for 15–30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
This yoga pose is perfect for stretching those glutes and opening up those hips.
Begin in a tabletop position—hands directly under shoulders, knees directly under hips. Bring your right leg forward underneath you, and sink down onto it. Extend your left leg behind you, keeping your hips angled toward the floor. Hold for up to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Twisting Glute Stretch
Begin in a seated position with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring your right ankle to the outside of your left thigh so that your legs are crossed. Keep your left leg extended. Twist your torso and bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee, twisting until you feel a stretch in your glute and hip. Hold for 20–30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Lie flat on your back with your legs extended. Lift your right hip and leg and cross it over your left leg, keeping your back and shoulders flat on the ground. Hold for 20–30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Glute Injuries: Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery
Everyone is susceptible to getting a glute injury. It can be caused by a number of things, including overuse of the muscles, misuse of the muscles, poor posture, trauma, or a sedentary lifestyle.
A gluteus maximus injury can cause not only pain in the buttocks, but pain in the back, hip, legs, and knees as well.
In order to properly recover from a gluteus maximus injury, you need to focus on both strengthening and stretching exercises, like the ones mentioned above. Keeping the muscles strong and flexible will also help to prevent future injury.
If the pain persists for more than 4–5 days, make an appointment with your doctor, who may refer you to a physical therapist for treatment.
RELATED: How to Stretch Safely
The gluteus maximus is an important muscle because it allows us to move the bottom half of our bodies so that we can walk, run, jump, climb stairs, and do many other activities. The glutes also support the muscles in the back, and when the glutes are weak, it may result in back pain, hip pain, and knee pain.
You can avoid injury by regularly doing glute strengthening and stretching exercises. Make sure that you’re not sitting on your butt all day long, and get up to do stretches every hour in between work for strong and healthy muscles.