Marta Montenegro: A Strong Backside can Help Your Running

A toned gluteus muscle is no doubt one of the hallmarks of fitness and sexiness. But how does having a nice butt help us in movements such as running?

Frédéric Delavier explains in his book Women’s Strength Training Anatomy that in the human being, the gluteus maximus, one of the muscles that makes up the hip extensor muscles, does not play a significant role in gait. But as soon as the effort increases to walking fast or running, the gluteus maximus becomes engaged to extend the hip energetically and straighten the torso.

How much do we need the gluteus muscle when you want to sprint?  A lot!

A study “Effect of Running Speed on Lower Limb Joint Kinetics,” published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise Journal showed the hip extensors and knee flexor muscles (gluteus and hamstrings) demonstrated the most increase in biomechanical load with faster running.

The authors mention some experimental data where the limit to maximal sprint seems to be related to how hard and quickly a runner can push off the ground. In other words, you need to get a strong gluteus and hamstrings (back of the leg) to run faster. The additional perk that if you achieve it, you’ll look good from behind.

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Strong posterior

The following exercises are some of the best to work the back of the leg muscles. Some will isolate more the gluteus maximus, while others will emphasize all or one of the three posterior tight muscles, as well as the adductor muscles and the iliopsoas muscles.  Certain exercises will strengthen the erector spine muscles, which are critical to good posture.

As important as it is to have strong hamstring muscles, it’s just as crucial to keep them flexible. Make sure that you stretch them regularly, particularly after performing this routine.  Lack of flexibility will create instability at the pelvis which will strain the spine.

Get ready not just to sprint at your best and to tone your butt but also to torch a good amount of calories with this routine.

The workout

One way: Perform the routine entirely as a circuit (one exercise after another). Do 2-3 rounds, 10-12 reps.

If you’re a beginner, perform the exercises without weight for just one round. When you feel in control add some weight and then progress to increase the number of circuits that you can do.

Another way: You can select one or two of these exercises to be added to your own exercise program

The moves for the gluteus and the hamstrings, specially, require you to stabilize the spine, engage the core, keep the chest out, and neck align with the spine. Proper form is a must when performing these exercises.

Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website,, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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