I was recently pondering over a lot of our workouts we’ve written these past months and something donned on me that was familiar over a good amount of them. We seemed to be doing drills that focused a lot on glute activation no matter what the issue was for the athlete.
Whether we were working on acceleration, finishing out a 400M, injury prevention for the knee, it turns out a lot of these items were addressed if we could activate the glute and get it firing quickly.
The glutes are made up of several muscles. The most famous is the gluteus maximus, but there are two others you need to be aware of – the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. They are smaller muscles than the maximus, but just as important.
Let’s dive into some of the functions for these muscles and how if we get them firing they help you in some of the areas mentioned above.
- The gluteus maximus is your main driver for acceleration. The stronger and more powerful this muscle is, the better your get up and go will be. Depending on how far you are running, the maximus will eventually give way to the other glute muscles, but developing this muscle is the key to getting out fast.
- Your gluteus medius and minimus need to be developed appropriately, but it is more than just doing squats and lunges which really hit the maximus. For example, when running a 400M once the maximus gets you to a certain point in the race and your anaerobic system starts giving way to the aerobic (depending on how fast you are), the glute medius has to be strong to continue moving the legs effectively. If they shut down, it feels like you are running through mud.
- In order to isolate the medius and minimus, you can do one of two things. You can do a reverse thighmaster. Sit on the ground with bent legs and feet flat on the ground. Keep them shoulder width, place a band around your knees and then slowly open the legs up then return to neutral. OR, you stand completely tall and do a leg abduction movement nice and slow.
- If you do the above exercises as a pre-workout, then you can start strengthening the hip abductors more which will reduce the chances of knee valgus happening. This is when the knees cave in during movement, such as a standing broad jump. Knee valgus is a big indicator for a potential knee injury to happen.
- Once the medius and minimus get firing appropriately, then you can do some standing broad jumps to get all the receptors firing in your knee active that will help with stabilization. Thus, reducing the chance for a traumatic knee injury.
As you can see, the glutes are much more than just the maximus. Those smaller glute muscles (medius and minimus) are super important for an athlete, especially from the injury prevention side.
Hitting all the glutes properly will result in a faster athlete, a more well-balanced athlete which eliminate injuries, and if it makes you feel good a shapely derriere.