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What Is a Glute Machine?

The gluteus maximus (glute) is the large muscle in the buttocks.
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  • Written By: Micki Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2014
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A glute machine is a piece of gym equipment that allows a user to isolate the three gluteus muscles located in the buttocks: the maximus, medius and minimus. Various types of glute machines exist; some require standing, while others are used while kneeling. Glute machines may also be called kickback or leg extension machines. Often, weights can be added to build muscles steadily as strength increases. Using a glute machine properly is generally considered important in order to achieve the best results while avoiding injury.

One type of glute machine commonly found at a gym requires a kneeling position. The user must first lower himself on his knees and stabilize the body by placing hands or elbows and hands on the ground. This stabilization may help aid in isolation of the lower body by keeping the upper body immobile. Thus, the glutes do not receive help in performing the exercise from the arm muscles.

In this position, one knee is kept on the ground while one foot is placed against a flat surface. The user then pushes this flat surface, which offers resistance according to the amount of weight that has been added, engaging the gluteus and sometimes hamstring muscles. Many fitness experts stress the importance of pushing with the heel of the foot. Pushing with the toe may utilize the calf muscle, requiring less work from the glutes.

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Other glute machines are used in a standing position. The movement required when using standing glute machines is similar to the movement performed while kneeling. A pad is often provided for the user to lean the chest upon, which may be adjusted to fit the user’s height. This chest support helps to prevent against injury to the back by helping the body use the glutes instead of the lower back muscles, which can be easy to strain by lifting weight in this position.

Like the kneeling kickback machine, the standing glute machine isolates one leg at a time. The heel should be placed against the padded or flat metal bar. The user extends the leg in a full range of motion using the gluteus muscles. When a full repetition is completed with one leg, the user can switch legs. Generally, three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions are suggested.

For both types of glute machine, specific movements are recommended for safety and optimal results. The entire extension should be done slowly as one fluid move. The user may benefit from squeezing the glutes throughout the movement and pausing for a moment when the leg reaches full backward extension. One may also want to be careful to lower the bar smoothly rather than simply dropping the bar back into place.

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