Glute Confusion

The glutes help to extend the hip throughout the entire distance of any sprint. However, how hard should they be contracting?

My physio prescribed glute exercises when I had a hamstring injury , stating my hamtrings have to work too hard because the glutes are not firing properly.

When I began sprinting again I began to voluntarily contract my glutes (as you would when you clench them) to increase their contraction force. However, I did not really see an increase in speed or speed endurance and I wondered if the muscle fibres I was contracting voluntarily were not linked to extension at the hip significantly.

Similary I am sure everyone could clench there glutes harder during the squat/leg press etc if they thought about it, but would the force be any greater - the relevant fibres may already be firing optimally.

I therefore, wondered if you should ignore this and just sprint as usual.

Sounds like alot of BS to me. The therapy should free up the interferance with normal function, at which point you should be able to activate everything normally. Sprinting must be an automatic action. If you start thinking about the order and degree of firing of various muscles while in action, you’re soon going to find yourself in deep s**t. (My therapists free up neural blocks all the time with accupuncture and ART, and the athlete is able to go out and perform without a second thought.)

Just go out and run in a relaxed fashion. If you need to build up the area- do so with srecific exercises away from the track- don’t mess with your mechanics. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

Ok so don’t try and fire your glutes any harder than they are automaticly firing when actually sprinting.

But just to clear up the matter finally, is it ok to clench them whilst performing squats etc. ?

And is it NOT ok to clench them whilst doing sprinting drills since these drills are possibly specific enough for the altered firing of the glutes to be carried over to the actual sprinting, and therefore the athlete to end up in s**t?



Not sure, but, Ian King recommend squeezing the glutes when coming out the bottom of the squat (certainly when doing them the way he teaches).

His cues: Bend (the knees), Suck (the stomach), Sit (down), Squeeze (the glutes on the way up).

My guess: Anything to do with pelvic alignment during ascent - and making sure it doesn’t alter through the lift??

At the start cues from weightlifting (i.e. breathing patterns, specific muscle contractions etc) might be useful, but after that just sprint. I feel the same for olympic weightlifting (i.e. after the bar passes the knees just explode upwards).

Do you have any vid-clips of that young lady crackin’ walnuts?:baddevil::

I thought the group would enjoy this:

Relative activity of hip and knee extensors in sprinting –
Implications for training
Klaus Wiemann and Gunter Tidow
New Studies in Athletics
10(1): 29-49, 1995

2.2 The search for a synergist of the gluteus maximus muscle

As forward acceleration in sprinting is obviously produced by hip extension rather than knee extension (Waser 1985; Lemaire & Robertson. Power in Sprinting. Track and Field Journal. 35: 13-17, 1989, Ae et al. (The men’s 100 metres. New Studies in Athletics. 7(1): 47-52. 1992), it seems plausible to suppose that the strongest hip extensor, namely the gluteus maximus (GM), takes a major part in this extension. However, there are some doubts concerning this supposition, because the GM does not function only as a hip extensor; it also rotates the thigh outward, especially when the hip joint is extended. This could cause a backward rotation of the pelvis on the side of the free leg during the support phase, which might hinder the long forward swing of the free leg. Furthermore, the GM also has an abducting effect on the leg – especially in the case of the angled hip joint. This could have a negative effect on the straight movement of the support leg from front to back. However, outward rotation and abduction would not be of any consequence in the sprint, if another muscle could not act together with the GM during the hip extension and also to neutralize the abducting effect of the GM. This task could be taken over by the m. adductor magnus (AM), especially by its superficial part, which has its origin exactly at the ischial bone, medially beside the origin of the hamstrings and inserts to the medial epicondyle.

The following aspects support the supposition that the superficial part of the AM contributes to the production of the sprint movements and can therefore be considered as a synergist of the GM.

• The direction and mass of the AM give reason to assume that the AM – especially in the case of the bent hip joint – is a strong hip extensor and not so much an adductor. The adducting effect of the AM is especially minimal when, on the sagittal plane, the thigh is vertically below the hip joint. However, while the hip of the support leg is being extended, the balance out the abduction of the GM.

• Both the superficial part of the AM and the hamstrings are supplied by the same nerve (obturator nerve), while the deeper part of the AM is supplied by a different nerve (ischiadic nerve). This fact alone could lead to the conclusion that the superficial part of the AM – especially during movement phases which are characterized by a bent hip joint – fulfils a task which can rather be compared with that of the hamstrings, namely hip extension.

• In almost all bent positions of the hip the AM rotates the high inward and thus can counterbalance the outward rotation of the GM.

Unfortunately, in the electromyographic investigations of the sprint conducted so far, the adductors have only been dealt with in passing. Ralph Mann (Biomechanical analysis of sprinting. Track Technique. 94: 3000-3003, 1986) examined only the comparably weak m. adductor longus and McClay et al. (Muscle activity in running. Biomechanics of Distance Running. Chapter 6: 165-186, 1990) give a report on the findings of Mann & Hagy (Running, jogging and walking: A comparative electromyographic and biomechanical study. Bateman, JE/Trott, A.: The foot and the ankle. pp. 167-175, 1980), according to which the adductors (without making a specific difference between the individual adductor muscles) are active during the whole sprint cycle.

thanks, Tom.

The whole article from Wiemann and Tidow is at: