The Most Effective Exercises to Develop Gluteus and Hip Strength for Running
Succeeding in any sport usually depends on developing strength and endurance in specialised parts of the body.
Research suggests that whilst running, for example, strength and power of the gluteus and hips improve performance as well as reduce the risk of injury.
Specifically, the science suggests that hip strength is associated with reduced risk of hip and leg injuries, runners knee, and IT (ilioitibial) band syndrome.
This makes sense, seeing as the function of the gluteal muscles are all involved in running, namely:
Decelerate the thigh as it leans forward
Extent the hip in stance to help you propel forward
Help stabilise the body, and cushion impact
Therefore to prevent the most common injuries associated with running, and to be able to perform at our peak, we muscle develop our gluteus strength.
To do this, we first must have basic knowledge of gluteal anatomy, and understand it’s anatomical function.
The gluteals are comprised of three muscles, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus:
The primary anatomical function of the gluteus muscles are:
Extension of the hip (think about lifting your leg behind you when in standing)
Abduction of the hip (think about lifting your leg out to the side when in standing)
Secondary functions are:
Internal rotation of the hip
External rotation of the hip
Therefore our exercise programme to increase gluteus strength and power muscle include movements that resist against the primary movement/functions of the glutes.
The most effective exercise for gluteus development is the barbell thrust. That is because it forces the hip into extension, which is the primary function of the gluteus, and allows for high levels of resistance, causing greater muscle adaptation.
Bar Hip Thrust Assisted from Breaking Muscle on Vimeo.
Strength and Conditioning Research Review stated:
“Gluteus maximus EMG amplitude is higher in the barbell hip thrust than in the barbell back squat, when using the same relative loads in resistance-trained females. Among hip thrust variations, the standard barbell hip thrust produces the highest mean and peak gluteus maximus EMG amplitudes.”
This is a staple exercise we recommend to all patients at our Crawley physiotherapy clinic who wish to develop glute power for their respective sport.
2. Quadruped hip extension
This is another exercise that involves hip extension, with a varied angle of resistance. The most effective form of this exercise is to be on all fours, and push one leg up and behind you, keeping the knee bent at ninety degrees.
You can resist this exercise by having a resisted band around your ankle or lower leg, or wearing an ankle weight.
The third and final key exercise for developing gluteus strength is the lunge. The lunge involves heavy usage of all the gluteus muscles to be able to lift from the base position, and to stride forward.
To add resistance to the exercise, you can hold dumbells in both hands.
The American Council on Exercise found in a comprehensive study that both the quadruped hip extension and lunges produced the most gluteus maximum activation, increasing the hip strength and muscle development.
Having these three exercises at the base of any hip strength and conditioning program will help you have more hip and lower body stability, reducing the chances of any injury from running, as well as helping you to generate more power on your stride and reduce the impact on your ankles, knees, hips and lower back.
I hope you have found research helpful.
Kulraj Singh BSc MCSP HPC
Principle Physiotherapist, Tavistock Clinic