Its all about the glutes!

Ask anyone what they want and its generally better glutes! How do we  get them, best exercises for them and so on. Well in order to work them effectively you need to know what they are, and what they do!

First things first – lets talk the three different main glutes that we refer to:


Large muscle on the left / smaller top muscle deep to max left / smaller deeper top muscle on right


These three all perform slightly different fnctions but comprise the “peachy” bit of our derriere! They all need to be functioning to give us that perfect arc that we all want so bad!

What do the Glutes do?

GLUTE MAX is the large bigger muscle that we “see” that defines the shape of our bottom. Is main function is to extend the hip and leg backwards. It does this in conjunction with our hamstrings. So when we are walking we use hamstrings to push the leg back, once it gets to mid line the gluts start to kick in as well.

This is why when you are just strolling there is little or no glut activity in this muscle  it needs to be worked beyond the standing position so you’ll feel it when you start to walk more quickly or when you make a consciuos effort to push off your toe.




These two little gems are deep to glute max and the bane of most people! – they are what we call hip and pelvis “stabilisers” and they work to keep our pelvis level when walking running etc – if they are weak we we loose that stability and our hip drops – ideally we stand on one leg and everything stays level – with weak glut med the lifted leg side hip will drop – bit complicated – but indicates weak gluts on the standing leg. Its signified by the typical model style of walking – where there is that cat walk swagger – looks good on the models but not that great when you’re trying to run! GLUT MED / MIN – think STABILISER


SOOO – what does that mean – when I as a physio talks about weak glutes  I generally mean those stabilisers – we need them to be firing and working to keep everything stable  so we can then access and work our glute max and core well. If the smaller glutes aren’t working effectively we will then pull into our piriformis, ITB, hip flexors and quadratus lumborum (QL) to compensate and that’s when all the problems can really kick off!

So good rule of thumb – make sure your stabilisers are working effectively and you’ll feel the burn higher up in your glutes generally more high and outer side of your pelvis.

With glut max – this is where you’ll feel it in squats or leg extension style of work and in the “fleshy” bit of your bum!

Hope that helps! Stabilise – then work!

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About Saree Hewlett (135 Articles)
Saree has 20 + years as a physio, training in the UK and completing her Masters in Manual Therapy in Perth, UWA. She has integrated Pilates into her practise having trained in the Polestar method and currently owns and runs two Studios in Perth's Northern Suburbs. A previous international Artistic Skater she understands the needs of sports people and also those suffering from chronic pain and reduced function - we all want the same thing - to be the best we can be! She is married with two active young boys!

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