Whether you’re looking to improve your golf game, speed up your sprints or simply prevent injuries and low back pain, focusing on glutes strength is one of the most important things you can do in the gym.
Quick test for you!
Maximus: The gluteus maximus, as its name suggests, is the largest of the gluteal muscles and acts as a powerful hip extensor. It helps maintain balance when you walk, provides control of your torso when you run, and is activated to drive you back up when you get to the bottom of a deep squat (i.e. where the thigh breaks parallel with the floor). The gluteals also play a vital role in golf performance and it has been suggested previously that the gluteus maximus contributes significantly to hip stabilization during the swing. (1)
Strength in the gluteus maximus can also allow posture to be maintained during the swing, power to be created during the downswing, and the triple extension movement to occur through impact which can result in greater clubhead speed. This has been shown in previous electromyography (EMG) research studies where it has been identified that in right-handed golfers the right gluteus maximus is highly active during the beginning of the downswing and the acceleration phase towards impact. (1)
Medius: The gluteus medius provides internal hip rotation (inwards), hip abduction (moving the leg out to the side), and stabilization of the hip. When you walk, for example, your gluteus medius muscle allows your standing leg’s hip to be stabilized, which keeps your pelvis level and prevents your opposite hip from dropping. Severe cases of weakness here can result in the “Trendelenburg gait” which is an abnormal walking coordination pattern where the opposite hip to the standing leg drops due to underactive hip abductors (i.e. the gluteus medius and minimus) and the upper body moves to compensate through each stride. (1)
Ok, so we know weak gluteus medius can affect our stride, but how does it affect our golf swing? Again the gluteus medius plays a large role in preventing excessive lateral sway and slide of the pelvis into the backswing and downswing respectively. If the gluteus medius is conducting its role effectively then it will aid internal rotation into the trail hip in the backswing and the lead hip in the downswing. It has also been suggested that the glute medius is active on the trail side during the acceleration phase of the downswing (i.e. where the club is moving from halfway down to impact with the golf ball. (1)
However, if the gluteus medius becomes under-active, the TFL can become overactive which can lead to knee pain, hip pain, and unwanted movements of the knee joint. (1)
Minimus: Although it’s the smallest of the gluteals, the glute minimus has important functions to perform including being a primary internal hip rotator and also helping with the abduction of the leg, and hip extension. Along with the gluteus medius, the minimus is also responsible for stabilizing the hip of the standing leg when walking. (1)
Now that we’ve gone over the gluteals and their functions, let’s look a bit closer at what can happen to golfers when their glutes are lazy! A research study on 56 golfers found a substantial difference in glute strength between lower handicap golfers (highly skilled) and high handicap golfers (lesser skilled). The study determined that golfers with a lower handicap were more likely to have increased pelvis rotation speed compared to higher handicap players. Potentially this difference is due to their increased skill level and more effective motor patterns rather than, or alongside, physiological variations, which can be a major limitation of different skill group comparisons. The authors of this research came to the conclusion that this disparity was the result of increased gluteal strength in the low handicap golfers, specifically the strength of the gluteus maximus and medius. (1)
Inhibit the Glutes with a lacrosse ball on the wall or floor
Active the Glutes – a few ideas you can do
Four Exercises to Strength Your Legs and Glutes
Ok… there are lots of exercises to choose from in order to build a program. It’s important to understand if you sit at work or drive a good distance your booty is on a holiday, which means it is inhibited or weak.
Laws of Torque: huge topic and Kelly Starrett talks about it in the book Becoming a Supple Leopard.
If you do not generate enough torque, you can’t stabilize your trunk in a good position. If you create zero torque you have capsular slack in your shoulder or hip joint. If you create rotation it takes up the capsular slack to make your joint very tight and stable.
Law #1 – In a squat or deadlift you need to create an external rotation force.
If your feet are straight and you can drive/rotate your knees out slightly you will create external rotation, notice in the goblet squat, which will help turn on the glutes.
A few exercises I chose to help ya booty!!
DB Multi-Directional Lunge
Lunge w Anti-Rotation
Landmine Single-leg Deadlift