If you've been squatting and lunging your ass off but have stopped seeing improvement in the way your rear appears, you're not alone. These exercises are great, but they’ll only get you so far. As far as muscle groups go, the glutes are notoriously difficult to train.
The reasons are simple: most people (especially women) tend to store weight around the hips, thighs and butt.
Another reason: your rear-end is made up of many, many muscles, and while these exercises hit the big ones, they don’t always target the others — and to get aesthetically and functionally optimal hindquarters, you have to target them all.
Understanding the Anatomy
The gluteal muscle group is comprised of three main muscles:
The gluteus maximus: The biggest muscle in your body. Used to move your hip and thigh.
The gluteus medius: Partially covered by the gluteus maximus. Used to rotate your thigh laterally.
The gluteus minimus: The smallest glute muscle of the big three. Used to facilitate medial rotation (i.e. inward rotation) of the thigh, as well as hip abduction (i.e. outward movement) and stabilization.
In addition to these larger glute muscles, there are some smaller muscles that affect the appearance of your behind and functionality of your body. These muscles are located deeper in the buttocks and the primary purpose of most of them is to rotate your femur (thigh) and/or hip.
The muscles include:
The tensor fascia lata: Encircles the thigh and works with the gluteus medius and minimus to medially rotate and abduct the femur.
The piriformis: Located behind the gluteus maximus. Used to laterally rotate the hip, leg and foot.
The superior gemellus: Used to laterally rotate the thigh. Also aids in abduction of the thigh when flexed.
The inferior gemellus: Used to rotate hip laterally. Also, helps stabilize the hip.
The quadratus femoris: Used to rotate and adduct (i.e. move inward) the thigh. Also used to provide stabilization of the femoral head.
The obturator internus: Used to laterally rotate the thigh sideways. Also aids in hip joint stabilization.
The obturator externus: Used to rotate the thigh externally when the hip is flexed at 90 degrees in a neutral position. Also adducts the hip when hip is flexed.
The Whole Package
Like we said, you’ve got to train all these muscles to get your best booty. It’s about more than appearance too: training your glutes using a variety of exercises and a variety of approaches will also help your whole body move better.
Standard glute exercises target mainly the three big movers, and while some of the smaller muscles are worked, they are secondary or tertiary movers. Still, it is your glute grouping as a whole that helps to properly stabilize your spine, hips and knees — and a lot of this stabilizing power comes from the deeper, smaller muscles. When these muscles are weak, your body is weak and more susceptible to injury.
It’s time to show the little guys some TLC — and it begins with revolutionizing your approach to glute training. Yes, keep the classics like squats and lunges and don’t forsake your weights, but you’re also going to want to broaden your horizons in terms of movements and equipment. Include isolated and unilateral exercises in your training, as well as targeted workout equipment like Booty Bands.
The isolated movements will target the smaller, stabilizing muscles, and the unilateral movements will work on one side of your body at a time, thereby allowing you to remedy any massive muscle imbalances. Combine this refined approach to training with the beauty of Booty Bands, which will hone in on all those little muscles, and you’ll strengthen your stabilizing muscles while creating a more functional body: a sexier, stronger and healthier body. It’s the total package, and it’s what we all want.