July 12, 2021 10 min read
Toning your glutes is one of the most straightforward ways to get your body looking summer-ready. No matter who you are, it’s hard to deny how important toned glutes are to your overall look, and, luckily, glute exercises are easy to slot into your workout routine.
One of the most important things about toning a new muscle group is getting to know the muscles well. Your body isn’t just going to respond to whatever exercises you throw its way. You’re going to be wasting a lot of your at-home workout time if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Imagine how little you’d be toning your glutes if you accidentally spent week after week doing hamstring exercises. Taking the time to understand how your glutes work is going to beastly increase your gains, help you burn fat, and kick your toning efforts into overdrive.
It’s also a lot of fun to learn about the mechanics of your body.
Beginning with the structure of your glutes, you may be surprised to find out that your glutes are a single large slab of muscle on each side of your butt, rather than something more shaped like your actual butt. They’re also much more complex than we might assume.
Often when we talk about our glutes we’re only talking about the gluteus maximus, but there are several layers of muscle that make up the entirety of your glutes. Your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus are the three distinct segments of muscle that make up your hips and butt. The three muscles work together to give your hips and this hinge section of your body.
There’s a reason these muscles come up the most when we talk about the muscles in our rear-end. Your gluteus maximus does a lot of the heavy lifting (literally, if you’re working out) in your hips. Without them, your range of motion would be severely limited, and you wouldn’t be able to make half the motions you do throughout the course of your day.
Your gluteus maximus, true to their name, are the largest muscles in the area. The most interesting aspect of them is how little they actually make up the shape of your butt. Your gluteus maximus is a large pair of muscles that stretch across the back of your pelvis.
This means they make up a good amount of the shape of your hips rather than specifically your butt. This doesn’t mean that you should neglect them, though. Toning your glutes should be an effort to tone ALL of your glutes so you get a nice, natural shape through your exercise.
Functionally, your gluteus maximus acts as your hip extensor. It’s hard to imagine your hip extending, but it’s a pretty easy set of muscles to isolate. If you stand on one leg, you can pretty quickly see the work that your gluteus maximus is doing while you ambulate around during the day.
They’re key to keeping your body standing upright and steady. If you didn’t have your gluteus maximus in the place and orientation they’re in, then you’d be hunched over and crawling from place to place. In a weird way, your gluteus maximus are a lot like your abs.
They both hold a crucial role in keeping your body standing upright and they allow you to transfer power from one half of your body to the other without your pivot points collapsing as soon as you try to lift something heavy.
Think about the soreness you feel around your backside when you’re pushing your deadlift max. Your gluteus maximus is where a lot of that power is coming from. Deadlifts specifically, are designed to challenge your glutes, as you’ll see later.
Going one layer deeping, you’ll find your gluteus medius. This muscle is just below the gluteus maximus. If you’re a little rusty when it comes to Latin (it’s a dead language after all) looking at that name might make you think that your gluteus medius is thinner than your gluteus maximus or less important somehow, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Your gluteus medius gets its name from their location in the “gluteus sandwich.” They reside right in the middle of the three glutes, which is the meaning of “medius” in this situation. They’re much thicker than your gluteus maximus, and they’re just as important to the key functions of your legs as your gluteus maximus.
Your gluteus medius are responsible for covering the lateral range of motion of your legs. Your Gluteus maximus keeps things in line front to back, while your gluteus medius are the muscles that give you the ability to kick away from your body as well as external rotation of your legs.
A lot of your ability to kick and dribble a soccer ball comes from the specific actions of your gluteus medius. Things like leg lifts isolate your gluteus medius, and if you have a resistance band handy, then you’re going to be well on your way to beefing up this pair of muscles.
One last stop on the glute tour. Your gluteus minimus is the smallest and farthest from the surface of the glute trio. It's easy to imagine your gluteus minimus as the deltoid of your pelvis. They have a remarkably similar function, shape, and position.
Your gluteus minimus sits on your pelvis and extends over the socket that attaches your upper leg to your hips. Your gluteus minimus serves to keep your legs in their joint as well as facilitating internal rotation of your legs, and adduction of the limbs. These relatively small muscles are crucial to keeping your legs in tip-top shape and allowing them an incredible range of motion and function.
Now that you have a decent understanding of the muscles we’re targeting, you’re ready to take on some of the most effective exercises for targeting them. You’re going to have a much easier time isolating your glutes and pushing them to meet their potential.
These are just like hip thrusts, but (surprise) with the addition of a resistance band. After you’ve become accustomed to the exercise, you’re going to want to start adding more resistance so you’re progressively overloading your body to build muscle.
Deadlifts are last on this list, not because they’re the least important, but because we want them to stick out as the last thing you read on this list. If you’re serious about getting stronger, burning fat, or generally getting toned, then you really can’t pick a better exercise than deadlifts.
They’re intense without feeling insurmountable, and they’re indisputably one of the best full body exercises.You’re going to get a lot out of adding deadlifts to your routine, and if there’s one exercise to take away from this list, it’s this one.
It’s not hard to isolate your glutes, and the payoff is well worth the effort, since everybody appreciates a well-rounded behind. The strength and stability of well-toned glutes is also well worth the admission price.
Glute exercises are some of the simplest exercises since they’re located in an easily accessible area of your body, and because they’re responsible for managing so much of your bodyweight, you can work them out with or without additional weights.
If you’re on a glute quest, you can work on them pretty much anytime and anywhere as long as you’re equipped with the knowledge above. Go out there and get toned!