SUMMER SLIM DOWN 2015: Body part of the week: THE GLUTES

Your glutes are the largest and strongest muscles in your body. They consist of three different muscles: gluteus minimus, medius and maximus. The three muscles work together to abduct, rotate and extend the hip. Strengthening your glutes can help improve posture and make sitting down, standing, picking up heavy objects and climbing stairs easier. Developing strong glutes can also improve athletic performance and decrease your risk for injuries.

Athletic Performance

Strong glutes are essential in almost every sport. They are responsible for accelerating, decelerating, changing directions and creating explosive power in jumps. Sprinting is one of the most effective exercises for simulating the glutes and activates 234 percent more of the gluteus maximus muscle than a vertical jump, reports Bret Contreras, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Athletes with strong glutes will be faster, more efficient and explosive in their movements than athletes with weaker glutes.

Injury Prevention

Developing strong glutes is not only essential for optimal performance, but also can decrease your risk for injury in the knees, lower back, hamstrings and groin. Weak glutes can cause an imbalance in the hip, which may lead to excessive medial rotation of the femur and lateral tracking of the patella, thus potentially causing knee pain, notes Mark Young, exercise and nutrition consultant. Strengthening your glutes decreases your risk for back injuries in exercises such as the deadlift and squat by taking some of the pressure off your lower back. Furthermore, weak glutes may also contribute to pulled muscles in your hamstring or groin.

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