Today we’re going to focus on your butt! No, seriously. The gluteal (or buttocks) muscles are often left out of runners’ strength training programs because it’s not an obvious target. And we’re going to explain why they’re so important for runners. When you run, the glutes hold our pelvis level and steady, extend your hip, propel us forward, and keep our legs, pelvis, and torso aligned. Which loosely translates to – they do a lot!

Now when you don’t work your glutes, they become faulty and less prone to activity, thereby affecting your entire kinetic chain, and range of motion. Studies have linked glute weakness to injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, runner’s knees, and the IT band syndrome, something runners dread.

Remember – glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities, which can make your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves disproportionately stronger. So, firstly, you need to isolate your glute workouts. Don’t assume that a certain workout takes care of your glutes. Make sure you focus on them separately.

Here are some exercises that you can do at home, to make your glutes stronger and better.

Lunge stretch
Tight hip flexors can inhibit the firing of glute muscles. Do this stretch after every run. Step forward and lower your back knee. Keep your knee over your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds on each side.

Single Leg Squat
Stand on your left leg. Lift your right out in front of you. Stand tall, and keep your left knee over your ankle as you lower down into a squat. Your hands can extend out for balance. Push into your heel to come back up and repeat. Start with shallow squats; go deeper as it becomes easier.

Single leg deadlift
Stand on your right leg with your left leg behind you and in the air. Keeping your shoulders back and your back straight, hinge forward and reach your hands toward the ground. Return back up and repeat. Hold weights or a medicine ball for an added challenge.

Hip hike
Stand sideways on a step, box, or bench at least four inches high with one leg held free of the bench, and keep both hips squared forward and shoulders level. Keeping your standing leg (the one on the bench) straight, raise your free hip directly upward and then drop the leg.

This should take care of the muscles that take care of your running! Be regular with them, and you’ll be less prone to injury and a better runner every day.

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