This is General Maximus Decimus Meridius, played by Russell Crowe in the 2000 blockbuster film, Gladiator.

This is your Gluteus Maximus, which stars in your daily life and serves to take you from sitting to standing, bending to erect, walking, running, climbing stairs, hitting a long drive, and on and on.

Without a strong and powerful Gluteus Maximus you cannot stabilize your pelvis (the body’s center of gravity) nor can you effectively stabilize the lower portion of your spine.

In the fitness world we know the Gluteus Maximus to be “the King”.….more affectionately known as “the King of the Swing” and the King is more powerful than any General.

Does Your Glute Max Work?

So how do you know if your GM is up to the task of golf and other daily activities? You test it.

Here’s how:

Lie flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, feet and thighs touching, and your knees should be directly over your heels. Cross your arms over your chest. Next, lift your pelvis up off the ground. Once the pelvis is off the ground, extend one leg straight out from the knee. Hold for 10 seconds.

What Do You Feel?

If you: ‘feel it’ (the work of lifting and holding) in your low back or the back of your upper thigh (hamstrings) and NOT the butt you have a weak Gluteus Maximus.. or Glute Amnesia..(your butt isn’t working the way it should).

You can check out Dave Phillips of the Titleist Performance Institute administer the screen to a golf pro by clicking this Youtube video below.

 When I’m administering the test I look for the following: 

  • Does the hamstring cramp?
  • Does the pelvis tilt or drop on the side of the UP leg?
  • Can the person being tested even hold the position for 10 seconds?
  • Do their shorts quiver? Yes, most often the perturbation or vibration is so strong their clothes quiver! 
If the answer is yes to any of the above you don’t have a strong enough Gluteus Maximus!
So If My Glutes Arent’ Firing How Do I Fix It? 
The thought process used to be simple…If the glutes (extensors) are long and weak the muscles on the other side of the hip joint (the hip flexors) are short and tight. So we would just stretch the short/tight muscles and strengthen the long/weak ones. And we still need to do that….. BUT (no pun intended)…..
It’s Much More Complicated Than That!

In life and sport, the glutes work in what’s called a closed chain environment. That simply means that for life and all ground-based sports you are moving over a fixed surface (the Earth). No matter how hard you push you cannot move the Earth out of its orbit. But in essence, to ‘engage’ the glutes you have to imagine you are pushing the earth out of its orbit. 
But here’s the thing. There are two main joints below the hips. Those being the knee and the ankle. The knee is defined as a stable joint (works primarily as a hinge) and the ankle is a mobile joint. 
Gray Cook, inventor of the Functional Movement Screen and one of the men who established this joint-by-joint approach has said; “The most common reason for glute dysfunction is poor ankle dorsiflexion. Improve GLUTE activation with ANKLE dorsiflexion.”
Wait a minute.. what does ankle dorsiflexion mean? 

Dorsi-flexion is the ability of the top of the foot to move towards the shin by 15- 20 degrees. A normal gait (walking) cycle requires a 1520 degrees range of motion (ROM) in dorsiflexion of the foot/ankle. The dorsiflexed position allows the glutes to “fire”, or extend the hip, which is the primary function of the glutes (to propel the body forward or UP)

Less than adequate dorsiflexion results in a chain reaction of less hip extension. The result is a compensatory pattern whereby the hamstrings are now forced to become the prime movers of hip extension. This can lead to chronic hamstring tightness, hamstring strains, and certainly a decrease in performance.

Hmmmmm.. that’s very interesting. Now what? 

In order to improve ankle mobility we need to improve the tissue quality that’s restricting motion around the joint. That includes the bottom of the foot, Achilles tendon as well as the calf muscles, especially the soleus. 
 Once we roll the soft tissue we need to stretch it. Both statically and dynamically
 Check out this 6-minute Dynamic Warm-Up Routine for the Gym which includes several calf and hamstring stretches.