Health Alert: Shaping your gluteus maximus

NATIONAL - The gluteus maximus is the largest and one of the strongest muscles in the body, and strong buttocks are needed for good posture and mobility. So here are a few ways to keep it in good shape.

Traditionally, the squat is known as the best exercise for the glutes - that big muscle group known as your behind. But there's a catch.

Fabio Comana says, "As wonderful of an exercise as it is, sometimes the concern is whether people can actually do the squat correctly and whether there was a risk of injury in performing the squat."

A study by the American Council on Exercise reveals four other movements that are easier and just as effective.

Comana says, "What they looked at is how those particular muscles were targeted during the squat movement and they used that as a comparison against these other movements."

The first of these is the quadruped hip extension.

Next is the "step up." You can do it with or without holding dumbbells.

The front lunge is a little more difficult.

Comana says, "I would probably progress towards that exercise. And the other exercise they did they actually looked at what they call a four-way hip extension exercise."

This requires equipment with a pulley system. Or you can use ankle weights or resistance bands. Experts say all four exercises improve both form and function.

Comana says, "Not only do we get some cosmetic benefits of training these muscles to kind of give us that appearance of having a nice, firm sort of rear end, but they're very functional muscles in terms of how we move and even how we stand."

And that's what really counts - in the end.

If you only have time for one of the exercises, the findings suggest the quadruped hip extension is the best.

FAST FACTS:

  • The gluteus maximus is the largest and one of the strongest muscles in the body.
  • Strong buttocks are needed for good posture and mobility.
  • Traditionally, one of the best exercises to strengthen the "butt muscles" has been the squat.
  • Experts with the American Council on Exercise have four other exercises provide similar benefits to the squat and may be safer alternatives for some people.
  • A detailed explanation and pictures of some of the exercise can be found on the web at http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/GlutesStudy2006.pdf.

Posted by Bryce Mursch