Glute Anatomy 101 – Understanding How the Glute Muscles Work

We need to start right at the beginning.

In order to really make the most of training our glutes, we need to understand the muscle and how it works.

Do we know anything about the glutes other than that we want them to grow and be all peachy 🙂 I may lose you if I use too many scientific names so let us rather look at the picture below before I go on.

You can see how many muscles make up the glutes as well as the insertions and directions of muscle fibres.

Therefore there must be multi-directional actions by the glutes, right?

And there certainly are many joint actions performed by the glute (which will make sense when we discuss training the glutes later on) including:

Hip extension

Trunk extension

Hip abduction

Force closure of sacroiliac joint

Posterior pelvic tilt

Force transfer through ITB

Hip external rotation and

Force transfer through tensor fascia latae.

Don’t worry too much about understanding these exact moves but at least later on in the blogs it will all make sense.

The glutes are the largest muscle in the body by weight and cross sectional area and need to be trained as so.

We need to make sure we use a range of joint actions and use different loading types to make the most out of working the glutes.

What else can we do to make sure we activate and train the glutes well?

  • The joint movement at the hip suggests that it works optimally when the hip is at full extension. Think bridges, hip thrusts and back extension. This is also better as the muscle fibres are made shorter in these movements. Meaning the glutes work harder this way.
  • The glutes are made up of mixed fast and slow twitch muscles. So both high rep exercises and lower reps are necessary.
  • The glutes do not work hardest when a movement is a combined hip/knee extension i.e. a squat. The barbell hip thrust creates more gluteal amplitude than the barbell back squat. This so this is why we all say the thrust is a must!
  • Please note: a deeper squat does not activate the glutes more. A wider stance or box squat may amplify slightly but the squat is not a major movement for glute development.

Ladies and gents, I hope you all excited for this journey to learning how to best grow those glutes!


Isilda Da Costa is a personal trainer and women’s fitness specialist who, if she isn’t at the gym training, is busy researching the most up to date information for growing those muscles. She has combined her love of everything healthy by being a health coach in her own health shop in Swaziland. Follow along on @izzy.fitness.pt

Written by Izzy for byfitfarmgirl.com

Image source found here.

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