Does Sitting Down make your Glute muscles weak?

31 May 2021

Every year, we are hit with a new trend in the wonderful world of fitness and for the past year, it has been glutes training, which in layman’s terms, means training our buttock muscles. A scroll through our Instagram fitness feed will turn up hundreds of posts demonstrating the same few exercises designed to “maximise that glute burn” and “boost that booty in the gym”. That’s all well and good, but what about the rest of the 22 hours (or more) that we are not in the gym? Are any of our daily activities affecting the growth of our glutes? Google and you will find magazine articles and blog posts suggesting that sitting for too long might be detrimental to our glutes. What horror to most of us, who spend up to 8 hours a day sitting at our deskbound jobs before heading off to the gym. Are we actually killing our own gains?

Prolonged sitting, having been associated with many detrimental effects on our health, has been touted as the new “smoking” in recent years. However, does this extend to our muscles, specifically our glutes? A recent CNA article seems to suggest so but what does the research actually say? Well, the answer is a resounding no. Prolonged sitting does not affect our glutes; instead we should be expecting more detrimental effects of prolonged sitting on the other aspects of our health. These are more important as these detrimental effects are not reversed by increasing the amount of exercise as commonly believed. Instead, the solution to this should be through reducing the time we spent sitting.  What we do need to focus on are the other detrimental effects of sitting on our health and prevent these through reducing the time we spend sitting.

Effects of prolonged sitting on our glutes

Currently, there is a lack of scientific research to back the claim that prolonged sitting actually affects our glutes. A study showed that there is no significant difference in the activation of our glutes after prolonged sitting or standing. Then why does this claim exist? Likely, it arises from the fact that prolonged sitting tends to lead to our hip flexors, the muscles at the front of our hips, to tighten up. This causes the position of our pelvic to roll forward, which puts our glutes on a stretch. This is hypothesised to be a disadvantageous position for our glutes to work and it will only remain as such unless there is sufficient scientific evidence to prove otherwise.

Effects of prolonged sitting on other aspects of our health

Even though prolonged sitting has not been proven to have detrimental effects on our glutes, this does not mean that it is alright to continue with this practice. Prolonged sitting has been linked to many other factors that are harmful to our health. These include increased risks of lower back pain, reduced cognitive function, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. These are definitely way stronger causes for concerns than the size of your booty.The more alarming part is that these risks still persist even if we exercise at the recommended physical activity guidelines. 

Tips to reduce the effects of prolonged sitting

Take scheduled breaks

So what can we do to help ourselves and reduce the harmful effects of prolonged sitting? The simple answer is to reduce the time spent sitting by getting up every 30 minutes to do some light physical activity for as little as 1 to 2 minutes. There is no consensus on the best thing to do during the break – stretching, standing, and walking are all possible forms of light physical activity that you can easily incorporate at your workplace.

Set reminders for breaks

As obvious as it may seem, it actually takes a lot of effort to start and maintain this habit. Simply remembering to take breaks already poses a problem to many of us, who once engrossed with work, will lose track of time. Setting reminders to pop up on your laptop is one good way to counter this problem. An additional tip for you is to personalise your reminders – instead of a generic alarm, use the positive effects of reduced sitting time as the titles of your reminders. “No more back pain”, “a smarter brain” and “a healthier heart” are some possible titles to motivate you to get up from your seat.

There you have it, the answer to your question of whether prolonged sitting will kill your booty gains is a firm negative for now. However, the fact remains that there are many other more detrimental effects of prolonged sitting on our health and that we should all start making an active effort to cut down the time we spent sitting.