In the last few years it has become much more popular to devote time to the glute muscles. But whilst the shift in the industry is a good thing, many people still don’t know why it is important to train this muscle.
In absolute terms (body weight not factored in), women tend to exhibit only 40-60% of the upper body strength of men, and as much as 70-75% of the lower body strength of men. Interestingly, when you factor body weight into the equation this strength deficit practically disappears.
Females have similar lower body strength to that of men, particualrly in exercises where the spine is not loaded – leg presses, curls and extensions for example.
The gluteal muscles are an extremely interesting group- they comprise the glute maximus, medius and minimus, and provide a keystone link between the upper and lower body via the core and sling systems. They are the strongest group of muscles in the body, although they are often neglected in exercise programming- mostly (from experience of asking people) through lack of knowledge on how to effectively train them.
The glutes are critical in executing proper form in exercises such as jumping, running, twisting and acceleration and direction changing. They are also a potent attractor for a mate- we are hard wired to find big, firm glutes attractive. However, through endless hours of sitting, poor posture and lack of exercise knowledge, we have seemingly come to a cross roads on good glute development.
It is important to firstly test the baseline strength and function of the glutes- without knowing what the start point is, you are training blind. Once the start point has been decided upon, exercise selection is key. The exercises you choose must follow a logical plan- different exercises activate different muscles within the glutes. This is important in planning a well-balanced program that maximizes recruitment and development.
There are many other factors that need to be considered on top of this, including- using the right training density (rep ranges, volume, load etc.) which is key in developing goof glutes, ensuring glute activation throughout the program and limiting irradiation (not allowing other muscles to take over).
Whilst this is not an exhaustive list of benefits it does provide an interesting rational for regular posterior training