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Buttress your buttocks and hamstrings.

Pay attention to your posterior. You need good gluteal muscles and hamstrings to function in your everyday life.

Your buttocks do more than provide padding when you sit down. Actually, your gluteal muscles and hamstrings help lower you into your seat and get up again.

But if you're like most men doing leg-strengthening exercises, you probably concentrate more on the large quadriceps muscles at the front of your thighs. After all, they're the easiest to see as you work out.

Although the quadriceps are important for knee function, it may be even more important not to ignore your glutes and the muscles on the posterior side of your thigh, a Cleveland Clinic expert cautions.

"I think people put too much focus on the quadriceps and not enough on the glutes," says Katie Lawton, MEd, ATC, a Cleveland Clinic exercise physiologist and athletic trainer. "As far as overall daily function, you use your glutes more than your quadriceps. Most people tend to have stronger quadriceps, mostly because of the fact that they don't have strong enough glutes and hamstrings to be able to do daily activities."

Be Good to Your Glutes

The gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus comprise the muscles of the buttocks. You use your glutes and hamstrings not only to help you sit and rise from a seated position, but also to perform other key activities of daily living, such as climbing stairs, getting into and out of your car, kneeling, getting up off the ground, or lifting heavy objects.

Trouble is, many older men fail to preserve the strength and flexibility of these muscles. Some may end up with an imbalance between their stronger quadriceps and weaker hamstrings, which can lead to injury and may contribute to back pain. Poor glute strength only adds further problems, Lawton says.

"People tend not to use their glutes enough because their quadriceps tend to be a little stronger, especially the majority of older men," she says. "If you look at an older individual who is going to sit down and he collapses into the seat, that's because of a lack of glute strength. And, stairs tend to be more difficult to climb because he can't push himself up."

Focus on Your Backside

Most health experts recommend doing muscle-building exercises at least two to three days per week, in addition to regular aerobic exercise on at least five days a week. And, as part of your strength-training regimen, don't forget to target the gluteal and hamstring muscles that are so vital for your daily functioning, Lawton advises (see the exercises in the chart, below).

"Most people usually think that if they do their walking, running or other cardio exercise that they're strengthening their legs. Yes, if you're climbing hills, you might work the glutes and hamstrings," she says. "But you still need to do some type of strengthening for your legs besides cardio."


Try these exercises to help strengthen your gluteal muscles and hamstrings. With each exercise, try to do two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions at least twice a week.

"Donkey kick"

Start on your hands and knees. Keep your body still and your right leg bent as you slowly raise it behind you. Hold for a moment, and then lower. Repeat with your left leg.


While lying on your back, tighten your lower abdominals, squeeze your buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor or bed, like you're creating a "bridge" with your body. Hold for five seconds.

Sink squat

Hold the edge of a sink, with your feet about 20 inches from the edge. Slowly bend your knees, keeping your heels on the ground, and lower your hips so that your upper legs form a 45-degree angle with the floor. Hold five seconds, and return to the starting position.

Side-lying leg raise

Lie on one side with your hips, knees and feet stacked in a straight line. Rest your top arm in front of you and use your hand to maintain your balance. Keeping the top leg straight, lift it up to hip height and hold it there for a count of five. Slowly lower your leg. Repeat on the other side.

Illustrations: Alayna Paquette
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Title Annotation:Exercise & fitness
Publication:Men's Health Advisor
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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