As we’ve said in previous posts, if your glutes aren’t ON, then you wouldn’t be stood upright, so lets ditch this idea before we get started

Now for the actual content of the blog…

So you have one way or another realised that although your glutes are ‘ON’, they could do with being stronger. Whether this is to help support your lower back, your hip and knee, or perhaps it’s for performance benefits, either way now you need to find a few weapons (exercises) to build those glutes of steel.

This is where we come in (well not quite us as we didn’t do the research, but hey, we’re telling you about it).

This study titled ‘Gluteal Muscle Forces during Hip-Focused Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Exercises’ produced by Collings et al (2023) gives us a great insight into many different exercises that are commonly prescribed to develop gluteal strength. It uses Electromyography (EMG) data to show how much stimulation each exercise gives to the glutes, the higher the EMG reading, the more targeted the exercise is at building strength in said muscle group.

The authors summarise their findings with the following paragraph

‘Gluteal muscle forces were exercise specific, and peak muscle forces increased by varying amounts when adding a 12RM external resistance. These findings may inform exercise selection by facilitating the targeting of individual gluteal muscles and optimization of mechanical loads to match performance, injury prevention, or rehabilitation training goals.’

So, from highest to lowest in this study (this isn’t to say the lowest doesn’t have validity, as it may still stimulate the glutes well and offer other benefits as well) we have:

  1. Loaded split squat
  2. Loaded single leg Romanian dead lift (RDL)
  3. Loaded single leg hip thrust
  4. Loaded single leg squat
  5. Single leg hip thrust
  6. Split squat
  7. Single leg Romanian dead lift
  8. Single leg squat

As you can see, 5-8 are essentially the same exercises as 1-4 but without additional load. We then move into some exercises you may have been prescribed in the past such as:

Side plank

Banded side step (crab walk)

Hip hike

Side lying leg raise

These exercises, although offering targeted strength for your glutes, are a long way off the EMG levels shown with the exercises 1-8. This shows that in order to strengthen your glutes properly, it is loaded, traditional strength exercises which involve multiple joints that offer the best bang for your buck.

This isn’t to say that the lower threshold exercises don’t have their place, they absolutely do in the right scenario’s. However, if you’re a gym goer and don’t shy away from leg day, exercises like the split squat, RDL, single leg squat and hip thrust should be in your program to ensure strong, robust hips, ready for anything.

Thanks for reading guys!

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