What is the biggest muscle on your body?
- Pectoral muscle (chest)
- Gluteus maximus (butt)
- Latissimus Dorsi (back)
I’ll answer that question shortly in this blog post. Giving it away now defeats the purpose of reading and building anticipation!
Let’s look at the function of each muscle and see if you can figure it out. The pectoral muscle is used to extend your arms horizontally in a pushing motion. The latissimus dorsi is used to lower your arms from an overhead position and helps to bring them back from a fully extended horizontal position also. The gluteus maximus is used for hip extension. If you workout regularly, hopefully you are using all of the muscles equally throughout your weekly routine. If you don’t workout at all, lack of use is a direct cause of pain and weakness. Any clue yet to the answer?
If you guessed B. Gluteus maximus, you won! And no, J-Lo is not the only person to enjoy this biological feature. Every person needs to have strong glutes for lifting objects with their legs, not their low backs. Incorporating the biggest muscle on your body for squats, deadlifts, and lunges is paramount for power and strength. Surprisingly enough, doing squats, deadlifts, and lunges does not specifically work your glutes unless you have learned to activate them. Even the most active gym goers out there typically sit all day at their jobs, much less those that abhor any type of exercise.
Yes, your glutes are needed for many activities besides sitting on them for 8-10 hours a day. If you like landscaping and gardening around your house, you need them to lift bags of mulch, flats of flowers, and pavers for a new walkway. Similarly, if you enjoy remodeling and redecorating houses, you need your glutes to pick up heavy furniture and boxes. Your glutes are responsible for helping you maintain good posture and be able to get up out of a chair without using your hands. None of these activities are done in a gym or for anything athletic, these are activities of daily living that require the biggest muscle on your body to be functional.
From a biomechanical standpoint, your glutes are the primary mover for hip extension. Hip extension is involved in standing up, walking, running, and proper posture. When your glutes are weak from sitting, the muscles in your quadriceps and low back take on their role, leading to low back and knee pain. Again, none of these motions are specifically for sports or in the gym. Here are three exercises you can do to strengthen your glutes, and they can be done by men and women!
- Bird dog – get on your hands and knees with a straight back. Extend the opposite arm and leg simultaneously. Keeping your fully extended and raise your leg as high as you can using your glutes to lift it. Do not rotate or tilt your body to compensate. Repeat for the opposite side.
- Romanian Deadlift/Straight leg deadlift – start with no weight or light weight depending on your experience. With your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly flexed, hinge at the hip and push your hips back. Keeping your back straight and head aligned with your spine, lower your torso down to parallel to the ground. Your weight is on your heels and toes may raise slightly. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings as you go down. Focus on using your hamstrings and glutes to contract as you raise back up to the starting position.
- Glute bridge – lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor close to your butt. Push through your feet and raise your hips as high as you can, then lower them down slowly. Your arms are relaxed next to your torso with palms up. You can do this with both legs or one leg at a time for added difficulty. You will feel a stretch in your quadriceps and hip flexors and your hamstrings working.
Regardless of your athletic ability and workout experience, including these moves will help you activate your glutes for all of life’s activities. Low back injuries are reduced, proper postural alignment can be achieved, and increased enjoyment of the activities you like most are all possible when you practice these basic movements. If you are wondering do I include these movements into my normal routine, the answer is a resounding yes! I practice what I preach.
For an all-inclusive workout, learn about my course Overcoming Chronic Pain Through Stretching & Strengthening. I guarantee it will work for you or your money back. You can also order my book and read about why your having pain. Pain is not normal, and you do not have to live with it. Go to my website, mattpeale.com, and find free videos and a report that can change your life today!