The three best weightless exercises for your glutes
The single-leg squat, the single-leg deadlift and the lying abduction. If we are to believe researchers at the University of North Carolina, these are the best exercises to activate your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles, if you train without weights.
The researchers got 21 test subjects to do 12 different exercises that physiotherapists use to strengthen muscles in the buttocks, for example for runners whose less-developed glutes have resulted in injury. Physiotherapists don't use weights for these. Nevertheless, this piece of research, which was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, is also interesting for strength athletes who are looking for the best way to exercise their glutes. The study shows which exercises are most effective.
You have three buttocks muscles, one of which you can't see. The gluteus minimus lies underneath the gluteus medius, and is activated by pretty much the same movements as the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius is number 4 in the figure above. The large buttocks muscle, the gluteus maximus, is number 3.
The researchers attached electrodes to their subjects' buttocks muscles so they could see how hard each muscle had to work. The higher the values in the tables below, the harder the gluteus medius [table immediately below] and gluteus maximus [lower table] had to work.
The best exercises for the gluteus medius were the side-lying hip abduction and the single-limb squat. The best ones for the gluteus maximus were the single-limb squat and the single-limb deadlift.
The researchers stress that they used healthy people for their tests. "The results may not be similar in patients with pathologies."
J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2009 Jul; 39(7): 532-40.
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