It’s been a while since I last wrote about the glutes. This all-important part of a woman’s muscle structure that is so often overlooked by women who are working on their figure and which can make the difference between a nice figure and a really amazing one.
I’ve been watching a lot of World Strongest Man re-runs recently (having conveniently given Chris some DVDs of them for his birthday – whenever possible, always give the person you live with something that you will also enjoy). Gary Taylor, the Welsh ex-Olympic lifter who turned strongman in the 1990s and won World’s Strongest Man in 1993, has a rear-view that inspired me to revisit this important topic.
When last writing about glutes I had finally mastered glute muscle activation, crucial for progress in so many lifting exercises, but I still didn’t have an appreciably attractive figure from behind. Since then, I’ve continued incorporating weighted glute bridges and weighted hip thrusts in my workouts as assistance exercises.
It seems to have made all the difference. I feel my glutes working all the time now and I uncovered a rear-view that I could be proud of at the end of my last cutting cycle. As a result I feel attractive far more often, I enjoy the feeling of my jeans being tight on my bum knowing that it’s not a layer of fat that will slowly squeeze out over the top of the waistband but the result of hard work that I can be proud of.
The work is never over, I wouldn’t want to return to the days of atrophied glutes, but I always keep my ear close to the ground for more news on things I can do to work my glutes. So I’ve set out below links to various glute-related news I’ve seen since my last glute-related article.
- Mike Reinhold assessed a study carried out in 2008 by Presswood et al which looked at the anatomy, dysfunction, assessment and progressive strengthening of the gluteus medius. An article which emphasises how important good glute strength really is.
- Following on from his assessment, Mike then found some follow-up research which used electromyographic (EMG) signal amplitude of the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles during exercises of varying difficulty to determine which exercise most effectively recruits these muscles. Mike summarises the findings on his blog, but for more detail of the results, there is a useful powerpoint with the research paper.
- Continuing to look at EMG work, a study by Mercer et al (2009) compared activation during forward and lateral step ups and found that activation was greatest when doing lateral step ups and specifically during the upwards phase. It should be noted that their test group were “older” adults (mean age of 79.4) rather than younger athletes.
- I’ve been singing the praises of Bret Contreras, otherwise known as the Glute Boy, for my introduction to the glute exercises that made all the difference to me. If you want to get to know a bit more about him, Nate Green interviewed him for Testosterone Nation – it makes for entertaining reading.
- Bret also wrote an incredibly long and technical article about the glutes which covers almost everything you may ever need to know about the glutes. I first saw this article when it was published last October and I’m still trying to digest it in full. One to keep revisiting I think.
- Slightly off-topic, but to combine EMG and Bret Contreras, Andrew Heffernan has written about the recent EMG work that Bret has been doing to study the activation of different muscles when doing different exercises in an attempt to identify the best exercises for different muscles.
After all that glute talk I’m off to spend some more time watching reruns of Gary Taylor. Particularly the second minute in this video of his winning performances from 1993…
Edit (5 March 2010): As a late addition to this post, I’ve just seen Bret Contreras’s recent post on “What Women Want“, highlighting the varied approach that women may need to take combining the big lifts (like squats and deadlifts) with other exercises like weighted glute bridges and hip thrusts to ensure firm and shapely glutes without huge muscular thighs to accompany them.