Gluteus maximus…or not-so gluteus maximus?

Your gluteus maximus is the largest and strongest muscle in the body and is what gives you a ‘booty’. Having good glutes is not only important for filling out your pants but for nearly every lower body related movement in Crossfit – deadlift, squats, thrusters, Olympic lifting, kettlebell swings, box jumps, running, rowing – you get the idea.

They are responsible for extending and rotating the hip and also play a role in stabilizing the pelvis during walking/running and transferring force from the legs to the pelvis and spine. Poor endurance and delayed activation of the glute max has been found in individuals suffering with low back pain (Brukner & Khan, 2009). So, if you suffer from lower back pain, you may need to look at fixing a dysfunctional glute max.

How do you know if your glutes aren’t working properly? Soreness in the lower back after deadlift day is a giveaway in my eyes but here is another way of checking it out.

TEST: Glute Bridge – lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keeping your knees together, lift your hips toward the ceiling, making sure not to overextend the lower back. Aim to hold for 10 seconds. Where do you feel the tension – a) your lower back? b) your hamstrings? c) your glutes? If you answered yes to either/both a & b – you need to work on your glute max. If your hamstrings cramped – you DEFINATELY need to work on your glute max. This test can also be used as an exercise to improve glute max strength and activation – just ensure that you are feeling it IN YOUR GLUTES and not in the lower back or hamstrings.