Gluteus maximus muscle

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Gluteus maximus
Sobo 1909 294.png
The gluteus maximus, with surrounding fascia. Skin covering area removed.
Sobo 1909 318.png
Gluteus maximus is the most superficial muscle of the hips, here visible at top centre with skin removed from the entire leg
Latin Musculus glutaeus maximus
Gluteal surface of ilium, lumbar fascia, sacrum, sacrotuberous ligament
Gluteal tuberosity of the femur and iliotibial tract
Superior and inferior gluteal arteries
Inferior gluteal nerve (L5, S1 and S2 nerve roots)
Actions External rotation and extension of the hip joint, supports the extended knee through the iliotibial tract, chief antigravity muscle in sitting and abduction of the hip
Iliacus, psoas major and psoas minor
Gray's p.474
TA A04.7.02.006
FMA 22314
Anatomical terms of muscle

The gluteus maximus (also known as glutæus maximus or, collectively with the gluteus medius and minimus, the glutes) is the largest and most superficial of the three gluteal muscles. It makes up a large portion of the shape and appearance of the hips.

It is a narrow and thick fleshy mass of a quadrilateral shape, and forms the prominence of the nates.

Its large size is one of the most characteristic features of the muscular system in humans,[1] connected as it is with the power of maintaining the trunk in the erect posture. Other primates have much flatter hips.

The muscle is remarkably coarse in structure, being made up of fasciculi lying parallel with one another, and collected together into large bundles separated by fibrous septa.


Muscles of the gluteal and posterior femoral regions, showing origin and insertion of gluteus maximus muscle.

It arises from the posterior gluteal line of the inner upper ilium, and the rough portion of bone including the crest, immediately above and behind it; from the posterior surface of the lower part of the sacrum and the side of the coccyx; from the aponeurosis of the erector spinae (lumbodorsal fascia), the sacrotuberous ligament, and the fascia covering the gluteus medius (gluteal aponeurosis). The fibers are directed obliquely downward and lateralward; The gluteus maximus has two insertions:

  • those forming the upper and larger portion of the muscle, together with the superficial fibers of the lower portion, end in a thick tendinous lamina, which passes across the greater trochanter, and inserts into the iliotibial band of the fascia lata;


Three bursae are usually found in relation with the deep surface of this muscle:

  • One of these, of large size, separates it from the greater trochanter;
  • a second, (often missing), is situated on the tuberosity of the ischium;
  • a third is found between the tendon of the muscle and that of the vastus lateralis.

It is also inserted on the lateral condyle of the femur.


When the gluteus maximus takes its fixed point from the pelvis, it extends the acetabulofemoral joint and brings the bent thigh into a line with the body.

Taking its fixed point from below, it acts upon the pelvis, supporting it and the trunk upon the head of the femur; this is especially obvious in standing on one leg.

Its most powerful action is to cause the body to regain the erect position after stooping, by drawing the pelvis backward, being assisted in this action by the biceps femoris (long head), semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and adductor magnus.

The gluteus maximus is a tensor of the fascia lata, and by its connection with the iliotibial band steadies the femur on the articular surfaces of the tibia during standing, when the extensor muscles are relaxed.

The lower part of the muscle also acts as an adductor and external rotator of the limb. The upper fibers act as abductors of the hip joints.

Society and culture[edit]


The gluteus maximus is involved in a number of sports, from running to weight-lifting. A number of exercises focus on the gluteus maximus as well as other muscles of the upper leg.

  • Squat (exercise)
  • Lunge (exercise)
  • Hip thrust exercise
  • Deadlift (and variations) exercise
  • Quadruped hip extensions
  • Step-ups
  • Four-way hip extensions
  • Split Squat
  • Bulgarian Split Squat (Rear Foot Elevated)
  • Reverse Hyper Extension
  • Glute Ham Raise

Injury analysis[edit]

Functional assessment can be useful in assessing injuries to the gluteus maximus and surrounding muscles. These tests include:

30 Second Chair to Stand test

This test measures a participants ability to stand up from a seated position as many times as possible in a thirty second period of time.[2] Testing the number of times a person can stand up in a thirty second period helps assess strength, flexibility, pain, and endurance,[2] which can help determine how far along a person is in rehabilitation, or how much work is still to be done.

Passive Piriformis stretch.

This test measures flexibility of the gluteus maximus. This requires a trained professional and is based off of the angle of external and internal rotation in relation to normal range of motion without injury or impingement.[3]

Additional images[edit]

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy.

  1. ^ Norman Eizenberg et al., General Anatomy: Principles and Applications (2008), p 17.
  2. ^ a b Dobson, F.; Bennell, K.; Hinman, R.; Abbott, H.; Roos, E. "OARSI recommended performance-based tests to assess physical function in people diagnosed with hip or knee osteoarthritis". 
  3. ^ "Passive Piriformis ROM". Retrieved February 19, 2015. 

External links[edit]