There is a trail that starts in most fitness facility parking lots that leads directly to the squat rack. Usually this trail has heavier traffic at the end of the week because most people hate to work their backside but they know they really want to. Yes, the agony and pain that squatting, dead-lifting, and lunging creates seems to offset the rewards of not being able to walk for the following five days. Below are three reason why you NEED to work your gluteus maximus that have nothing to do with they way you look in a mirror.
1. Your Butt is Your Engine
Have a strong backside is important to all of our foundational movements. This mean’s your ability to run faster, jump higher, and squat heavier are all dependent upon your ability to generate force from your gluteus maximus. If your glutes aren’t strong enough then you will lack efficiency to do thing’s like climb mountains, balance on one leg, or quickly stop and change directions if you are being chased by a lion or heading after your 2 year-old. To understand why this is, you need to understand just how muscle work. Think of muscle as a rubber band. As you stretch that rubber band you can feel the tension build up in it. If you let it go when the tension is fully built up, it will fling from your fingertips across the room. This is based upon the “recoil” principal in physics. In our body we have this connective tissue called fascia that envelops our muscles which allows everything from your nose to toes to be connected. This fascia is divided up into a series of lines to make movement possible. The line which consists of our gluteus maximus is called the posterior line. For our glutes to create the much needed force I am referring our hips need to be able to extend first so they get stretched and tension is built up. This is why, before you go to jump high you must first squat low. If your posterior line is free of adhesions that would limit the extensibility of your glutes, this is similar to stretching out that rubber band. This makes being able to bend at your hip very important.
2. Prevent’s Knee Pain
Your posterior line has a huge responsibility to swing your hips forward but your glutes in general have a responsibility to keep your knee’s in proper alignment when we do activities such as running, jumping, and squatting. The most important role for the muscles of the butt are to act as brakes and slow our bodies down during movement. As our ankle, knee and hip bend the glute acts like an anchor for IT band to hang on to.
When your back is loaded up with as you descend into squat you are effectively resisting gravity from taking you to the ground. Your gluteus maximus attached to the lower leg via the IT band. When it get’s lengthen out as you lower to the ground it works with the muscles in your lower leg to tighten up on the knee cap to keep it aligned with the hip and the foot. If this doesn’t happen then the knee gets stressed out and pain ultimately occurs. As a side note, an indicator that your booty isn’t working correctly is a stressed out IT band. If you foam roll the outside of your leg and feel pain, then it is likely your glutes aren’t working well.
3. Saves your Back
There are many reason’s why so many American’s feel back pain, but one of the most common is a pelvis that isn’t lined up correctly. If you can lie flat on your floor and there a big arch in your lower back then it is very likely you have an excessive anterior pelvic tilt. People have an excessive anterior tilt likely have tight hip flexor muscles that are preventing there hip from functioning the way that is supposed to. Generally, what happens is that the pelvis gets stuck in a position in which the lower back musculature is forced to tighten up. Your body ends up looking for alternative ways to move. When there is too much compensation too much of the time, we end up having a multitude of problems. The structural malalignments in your hip and pelvis can create all sorts of irritation from spasms in the lower back to radiating pains in the lower leg and foot.
Most people are driven to the gym for cosmetic reason’s. Although, this is the reason that most people are training their glutes, it is refreshing to understand there is a need to be training them as well.