The squat is one of the best compound exercises we can perform, which primarily works your glutes, hamstring and quads. However, your abdominals, obliques, back muscles and calf muscles all play a supportive role.
The ‘glutes’ actually consist of three muscles; maximus, medius minimus:
- The gluteus maximus is the biggest of the three and is the largest and heaviest muscle in the human body. It’s main function is hip extension but it can also generate a huge amount of power in many different exercises including running, jumping, squatting, deadlifting.
- The gluteus medius is one of the muscles on the side of the hip and works together with the gluteus minimus to support the hips and pelvis whilst also being responsible for abduction and medial rotation of the lower limbs.
Many of us live a sedentary, modern lifestyle in which we spend hours sitting and the more we sit, the less we use our glutes which can make it difficult to activate them properly. If they are not activating properly, then they’re not going to get stronger, so it won’t matter how many squats you do, it’s going to be incredibly hard to see real progression. This is often why we can feel more work in the quadriceps, hip flexor and calf muscles when we are trying to work the glutes in a squat as these muscles have to work harder to compensate for weak glutes which can lead to imbalances in the body. I’m sure you will have seen many exercise videos and programs on how to gain a ‘peachy butt’ by doing some squats. However, squats are not always the only answer when it comes to the best way to tone and strengthen your glutes. The glute muscles are complex and it is very important to work them in many different ways in order to keep them strong and functional.
When performed correctly and with a focus on the correct activation of the glute muscles, squats can be a great way to improve tone, strength and size of our glutes. However, aside from aesthetics, there are plenty of reasons why it is important to work on building your glutes and here are our top 5 reasons:
- Strengthening your glutes will help you to strengthen your core, which in turn will help protect your back and help prevent a build up of tension which can lead to back pain.
- Strong glutes will keep your hips and knees stable and help prevent injury – especially important if you are a runner!
- The deeper muscles of the glutes are the doorway to the pelvic floor as they share connective tissue with the ‘kegel’ muscles, so strong glutes = stronger pelvic floor muscles.
- Strong glutes will help to improve your posture and create a better balance in the body as weak glutes can lead to your pelvis being pulled into an anterior pelvic tilt.
- Our glutes are a very large muscle group and as muscle burns more calories than fat, having more muscle on your body means you’ll have a faster metabolic rate and burn more calories each day, making working your glutes great for fat burning!