Okay so I’ve ALWAYS had a big butt. Like big. And I thought this always meant that I had a strong bum too…turns out that wasn’t the case.

It wasn’t until I went to Yoga Teacher Training and continued my studies of anatomy and movement that I realised how inferior my bum muscles were and how weak my butt was. I then realised why certain movements were difficult and why I was getting referral pain in other places on my body

So let me educate you about your butt so you’ll never look at it the same way again!

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Our bums surely look vastly different on the outside, but trust me guys we all have the same muscles. Let’s get some anatomy happening for the butt.

These are the main muscles that make up your glutes:

  1. Gluteus minimus (the tiny one): The smallest of the glute muscles lies directly under the gluteus medius. It abducts your leg (moves it away from the center of the body) and rotates your leg inward.
  2. Gluteus medius (the medium one): This pork chop-shaped muscle sits near the outside of your pelvis. Like the gluteus minimus, it abducts and rotates your leg inward.
  3. Gluteus maximus (the big one): True to its name, the maximus is the biggest muscle in your body. Its job is to extend your hip (think: what’s happening in your hip during the upward motion of a squat) and to rotate your leg outward.

Glute max is a real mic hog and often gets all the attention BUT the other two BUTT muscles are mighty important and need attention too.


They’re responsible for stabilising your pelvis when you walk or anytime you’re off balance. Stand up and balance on one leg—yep, your glute med and min just kicked in.

 The gluteus minimus is the smallest and deepest of the gluteal muscles. Its job is to abduct (move away from centre) the thigh and stabilize the hips/pelvis during walking, running, or standing on one leg. In addition, its anterior (front) portion provides internal rotation to the thigh, while its posterior (back) portion provides external rotation to the thigh.

The gluteus medius is the middle-sized gluteal muscle, (I like to think about the glutes as the three bears). It is a principal mover in hip abduction (away from centre), lateral (outward) rotation, and medial (inward) rotation. What’s more, it maintains the side-to-side stability of the pelvis, aiding the gluteus minimus in keeping the pelvis properly aligned during movement and single-leg balancing. Think about all those standing balancing poses we do in yoga. You need strong baby bear and mommy bear glutes!


You wanted to know about that big, the biggest, muscle on your back side, the muscle that helps to shape your derriere.

The gluteus maximus is the biggest and most buff (strong) of the gluteal muscles. It’s actually one of the strongest muscles in the body, working alongside its smaller companions to stabilise the pelvis and participate in hip rotation.

It plays a principal role not only in the abduction (away from centre) and lateral (external) rotation of the hips but also in hip extension (lengthening of the joint), which pulls the leg backward.



  1. ASYMMETRY – We just don’t do things the same on each side. Most of us have a dominant hand and a dominant leg, you might start going up stairs with one leg, kick a ball only with one leg, cross your legs only one side, etc. This develops one side of your glutes and can leave the other side trailing behind.
  2. INACTIVITY – The truth is we spend way too much time sitting on these muscles than using them. Other muscles in the body get used more often and we start to lose communication with the glutes. Don’t use them you’re gonna lose them!
  3. INJURY – You might be thinking, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever injured my butt’ and you might be right. BUT injury to the knee, ankle, toe, lower back, shoulder or anywhere else in the body can have an upward or downward affect on the rest of the body.  This can change how you stand, walk, get up and get down, therefore affecting the movement and strength of the glute muscles.


  1. INCREASED HIP MOBILITY. Hips don’t stop moving unless they are trying to make you stable. If the glutes are strong you’re more stable. If you want to have more open and flexible hips you need to work on strengthening your glutes to support this range of motion.
  2. PREVENTING AND EASING LOW BACK PAIN.  There’s always a reason your lower back hurts and strengthening your glutes is a great place to start. When you’re less mobile and weaker in parts of the body, like the hip and glute area your lower back compensates and does more work. The back hurts because it’s over working. The best thing to help your lower back is to activate your glutes.
  3. PREVENT OR AID KNEE PAIN. Strong glutes better control the legs. Remember how much they do for hip movement? The knee takes a beating if our glutes aren’t supporting the movement of what’s happening down stream. Don’t forget that injuries will inhibit the glutes, so activate them as part of knee rehab.
  4. Plantar fasciitis. Any problem in the feet check your glutes. Stand up and try this. Take off your shoes. Flatten your feet (Pronate) and tell me how your lower back and glutes feel? Yuck. Pretty sucky I bet. Now invert your foot (supinate) put an arch in it and tell me what you feel happen in your glutes. BOOM! They fire. Weak glutes go hand in hand with flat feet.
  5. HELPS PREVENT A TIGHT PSOAS. The psoas is the partner to the glutes that does the opposite movements. The psoas flexes the hip and glutes extend it. The psoas anterior (forward) tilts your pelvis and the glutes posterior (backward) tilt it. If the glutes are weak the lower back becomes more unstable and the psoas kicks into hyperdrive to stabilise the lower back. So for a tight psoas the glutes are always a player.
  6. HAMSTRING HEALTH. The hamstring and the glutes work to extend the hip, but if your glutes are weak then the hamstrings have to work overtime. That extra work causes strain and makes the hamstring more prone to injury. THIS IS A BIG ONE IF YOU’RE A RUNNER!


Get to know your butt! Now that you know what the glutes do and what weak glutes might be doing to the rest of your body…PAY ATTENTION!

You need to activate and strengthen them! Want to get started now? Do this glute strengthening workout today. You’ll be surprised to feel this WAY more in the stabilising leg rather than the moving leg. And why is this? BECAUSE THE GLUTES STABILISE THE PELVIS!

Meegan Bradley

Meegan Bradley

Yoga Trainer & Wellness Coach

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