Part One: Better Know Your Glutes

Fitness by Primal | © 2015 Ray Kuglar Photography
Fitness by Primal | © 2015 Ray Kuglar Photography

Butt, Booty, Bottom, Bum Bum, Badonkadonk, Apple Bottom, Derriere, Tush, Hiney, Rump, Bootylicious. There is no shortage of names we have for this body part, from the silly to the mundane, even to the profane. People care about their glutes.

There are two kinds of people in this world – those who care about their glutes and the liars.

With so much attention paid to this body part, there is very little actually known about it, how it works, how to develop it, genetic limitations, what it’s used for and why do we have it? Evolutionarily speaking, two of the biggest differences between humans and primates are the opposable thumbs, and large gluteal muscle development. On average a 160 pound man has bigger glutes, relatively speaking, than an 800 pound gorilla. It is the development of this muscle that has helped us go from crawling around on all fours to standing and walking upright for long distances. This has given us better evolutionary advantages as well, being able to cover greater ground, in hunting and gathering, being able to up and move in times of famine to better areas for nutrition; helping us spread our reach, covering ground, and pretty much living and occupying every continent on the planet.  Also we became better sprinters to allow us to become better hunters and increase the amount of protein and amino acids in our diets to help further our higher brain development. So, in a technical sense, our butts have made us smarter. No other animal can run 26 miles faster than a human being, and this is due to structure of the hips and limbs, and the ability of the glutes to stabilize our upper torso for long distances and handle the ground forces of running and dissipate it with minimal energy. This is a distinct advantage over our primate cousins. Butts and thumbs have taken us from the jungles to modern society.

Fitness by Primal | © 2015 Ray Kuglar Photography

Rack Position | © 2015 Ray Kuglar Photography

What are the glutes?

Technically we’re talking about three muscles – gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus is the biggest and most prominent of the three. Not only is it the largest muscle of the three, it is also the largest muscle in the body. It is the muscle most responsible for giving the glutes their distinct round shape. The gluteus medius is on the upper, outer corner of the hip, while the gluteus minimus lies deep under both. The medius and minimus function primarily as accessory hip stabilizers while your gluteus maximus is the big prime mover of the three. The gluteus maximus originates at the upper ilium (hip bone) down through the sacrum (tail bone) and it inserts into the upper thigh bone (iliotibal band or gluteal tuberosity to be exact). The gluteus medius originates on the outer surface of the ilium (upper hip bone) and inserts into the greater trochanter (top part of femur). The gluteus minimus originates from the outer surface of the ilium and inserts into the greater trochanter as well.

Fitness by Primal | © 2015 Ray Kuglar Photography

Front squat | © 2015 Ray Kuglar Photography

What do my glutes do for me?

Your glutes do a number of good things for your body. The primary role of the glutes is an action called hip extension. Basically taking the leg from a flexed (bent leg) to an extended (straight leg) position. This is the primary action used when walking, running, jumping, squatting, deadlifting and pretty much any athletic movement. In conjunction with the hip extension, the glutes also posteriorly rotate the pelvis, and in this motion will help upright the torso, such as when bending to lift something up off the floor, and help stabilize the upper body in other movements as walking, running, or doing other free standing exercises. The other major movement of the glutes is hip abduction (moving the femur out and away from the midline of the body). This is primarily used as a stabilization movement to counteract other muscles in helping stabilize the femur and pelvis during motion. The third primary function of the glutes is external rotation of the femur (rotating outward away from the midline of the body). This is also an act of stabilization of the femur and pelvis during movement.

Well, now that we know how we got our glutes, what they are, where they are and what they do, in the next article (part 2 of our 3 part series) we will discuss the importance of glutes in our lives and how to properly train the glutes to get a more effective workout and a more prominent backside to show off to the world. So long skinny jeans, hello hot pants!



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