Whether you want to increase your back squat, shave some time off your Fran score, or take fewer breaks on your uphill skin, you will need to focus on glute strength. The gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful muscle in the human body, and is responsible for hip extension, lateral rotation, and abduction of the leg. A strong gluteus maximus is important not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for overall physical health and athletic performance.
Studies have been performed comparing the amount of muscle activation in various exercises via a measurement tool called Electrical Myography (EMG). Here are some of the best exercises based on EMG studies:
Barbell hip thrusts: EMG studies have shown that barbell hip thrusts elicit the highest activation of the gluteus maximus compared to other exercises. This exercise involves sitting on the ground with your upper back against a bench, with a barbell across your lap. You then thrust your hips upward, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
Romanian deadlifts: The Romanian deadlift is another great exercise for targeting the gluteus maximus. This exercise involves standing with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. You then hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and the bar close to your body, until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. You then reverse the movement, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
Split squats: Split squats are a unilateral exercise that place a great deal of emphasis on the gluteus maximus. This exercise involves standing with one foot forward and one foot back, with a dumbbell in each hand. You then lower your body down, keeping your front knee over your ankle and your back knee just above the ground, until you feel a stretch in your glutes. You then push through your front foot, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
Glute bridges: A bodyweight version of the barbell hip thrust. Glute bridges are an exercise that can be performed anywhere, making them a convenient option for people who don’t have access to a gym. This exercise involves lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. You then lift your hips upward, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
Incorporating exercises that target the gluteus maximus into your workout routine is important for overall physical health and athletic performance. The exercises mentioned above are all highly effective for activating the gluteus maximus muscle based on EMG studies. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you are having difficulty performing, discomfort or even pain with any of these exercises, make an appointment with one of our PTs at MEND.
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