3 Exercises to Strengthen Your Glutes

The gluteal muscles are the powerhouse of the human body. They are made up of the gluteus minimus, the gluteus medius and the gluteus maximus, all of which create stability in your core. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body and moves the hips and thighs. When these muscles are weak, your body starts to compensate through other body parts that are not meant to take the strain, like your knees and ankles. This can lead to injury and being sidelined during the season.

The gluteus maximus has three major functions when running: to generate power, to control flexion of the trunk on the stance-side (the leg on the ground) and to decelerate the swing leg (the leg in movement), according to a 2006 study in "The Journal of Experimental Biology." However, in our day-to-day activities our bottoms are firmly glued to a comfy sofa, office chair or driver's seat. We don't use those muscles in the same way we did in prehistoric times. This is why it's important to take the time to strengthen them daily to improve running form, avoid injury and get a stronger butt.

Cody McGrath from Mondo Sports Therapy in Austin, Texas, provides three exercises to help strengthen your glutes.

The Exercise: Prone Hip Extension

Why This Exercise Is Important: Many people--runners included--have a difficult time activating their gluteal musculature, and if you can't get those muscles to fire, then it doesn't matter how strong they are. This exercise trains you to put your mind's eye in the glutes and keep the hamstrings and lower back quiet.

When to Perform It: This move can be performed prior to any cardiovascular exercise that might require hip extension, as well as before any other lower body or core strengthening exercises, in attempts to activate the right muscles at the right time.

How to Make It More Challenging: Once you have this motion down, transition to a doorway when performing this exercise in order to replicate gluteal activation while running (see video for details).

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