The gluteus maximus muscle, found directly under the back pocket of your jeans, is key muscle group for both vertical (ex. getting out of chair) and horizontal (walking or running) force production. Despite its’ importance this muscle is commonly weak on examination in our Physical Therapy patients. Multiple lower quarter diagnoses including low back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and ankle pain are associated with weakness in this muscle group. The lack of force production by the gluteus maximus increases the stress placed on passive structures, including the joints and ligamentous supports, as well as, smaller muscle groups not designed for these abnormal or increased demands. Our current environment of gym closures and restrictions requires us to get more out of our home workouts. A recent study highlights the most effective body weight exercises for the gluteus maximus.
Macadam and colleagues reviewed the data from 39 studies on the muscle activation during common body weight hip strengthening exercises (IJSPT. 2019). They included 25 exercises performed in the vertical vector and 14 in a horizontal vector. Authors reported the greatest activation in the vertical and horizontal gluteus maximus was found EMG during the single leg wall squat with opposite leg extended and front plank with hip extension, respectively. The charts below detail other exercises found to have high levels of muscle activation in the vertical and horizontal planes. Stay tuned to our next blog for information on the best strength training exercises for the gluteus maximus.