Glute Muscles – All you need to know

The glute muscles are a collection of muscles around your hips and thighs that aid movement and posture in your everyday life. Whether you sit at a desk all day or have an active livelihood, your glutes are the support for the rest of your body.

In addition to all the helpful work your glutes do, they define the shape of your bum, aid you in running and jumping and supporting you in squat exercises. The problem is, whilst people give plenty of attention to working the gluteus maximus, the other muscles in the area can go neglected and underworked. 

It’s our passion to help you in your journey to the perfect peach, so we’ve put together a guide of what the different glute muscles are called, what they do and how you can maintain them. 

The muscles in the area can be defined into two groups, superficial (gluteus maximus, medius, minimus and the tensor fasciae latae) and deep muscles (piriformis, obturator internus, the gemelli, and the quadratus fermoris. 

In the next section we will break down the two muscle groups and focus on each muscle.

Superficial Muscles

 Consisting of the tensor fasciae latae and the three gluteus muscles, superficial muscles primary function is to abduct and extend the leg. 

Gluteus maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body. It starts at the posterior surface of the ilium (hip bone), covers the buttock and connects to the iliotibial tract.  It is the primary rotator of the hip joint, and is the reason why humans are bipedal.

It does offer some support and stability whilst walking and other low intensity activities, however it really activates to aid in high speed and intensity activities. It is integral to running, getting the propulsion for jumping and stabilising your squats. 

Good exercises to work your gluteus maximus include lunges, squats, step ups, deadlifts and sprints. 

Whereas the gluteus maximus receives a lot of attention in general, the other two glute muscles go under-looked. These two muscles support your gluteus maximus and offer support and stability for your legs.

Gluteus medius

The gluteus medius starts at the outside of the ilium, extending downwards towards the upper thigh bone (greater trochanter).  Along with the gluteus minimus it provides support for the larger gluteus maximus muscle. 

It acts in conjunction with the muscles on the side of your hip to pull your thigh laterally (hip abduction), whilst also rotating your thighs.

Good exercises to target your gluteus medius include side hip abductions, clamshell and band exercises. 

Gluteus minimus

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the glutei and can be found at the anterior of the gluteus medius. It starts at the ilium and connects to the greater trochanter. 

The function of the gluteus minimus is similar to that of the gluteus medius, i.e. aiding with abduction and the stabilisation of the pelvis. 

Good exercises to target the gluteus minimus include side bridges, transverse abduction and band exercises.

Tensor fasciae latae (TFL)

The TFL is a small muscle, starting at the iliac crest and ending at the fascia lata. The primary function of this muscle is to buffer the tension from the iliotibial tract. In addition to this the muscle provides stability to the joints at the knee and the hip.

Good workouts to activate the TFL include ball exercises, side lunges and side hip abductions. 

Deep Muscles

Found underneath the gluteus minimus, these muscles act to rotate the leg laterally, whilst supporting the hip joint. The gluteus muscles are the main extensors. This group of muscles serves to support the glutei and stabilise the legs. As a result, the exercises that we recommend for this group of muscles focus on stretching and body weight exercises.  

Piriformis

This is a small flat muscle near the hip joint. It starts at the front of the sacrum and connects to the greater trochanter through the pelvis. The piriformis serves to laterally rotate and abduct the femur.

Good exercises to isolate the piriformis muscle include banded walks, hip drops and glute contractions. 

Obturator internus

This muscle is a triangular muscle located in the pelvic and gluteal area. Along with the superior and inferior gemelli, this muscle forms the triceps coxae. The muscle starts at the obturator membrane, and connects to the greater trochanter.

When targeting the obturator internus, we would recommend using body weight exercises and hip rotation stretches.

Gemelli

The superior and inferior gemelli are the smaller muscles that make up the triceps coxae. They serve to provide reinforcement to the obturator internus.

To target the gemelli, focus on exercises that include outer rotations of the thigh.

Quadratus femoris

The quadratus fermoris is a small but important muscle. It starts at the ischial tuberosity and inserts into the intertrochanteric crest of the femur. Its primary function is lateral thigh ration. It is a powerful muscle that works in tandem with the triceps coxae.

Good stretches to focus on this area include clamshells and external hip rotation exercises. 

So there we have it, a quick crash course on the anatomy of the glutes. Hopefully, this has helped to identify and define the muscles in the area, and highlighted the importance of a holistic approach to working your glutes. 

The stretches performed on the deep muscles will give the glutei and the tensor fasciae latae the support they need and focusing some of your attention on the other glute muscles can have many benefits beyond just achieving the perfect booty.

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