Anatomy word of the month: gluteus maximus

November 1, 2011 —

gluteus maximusThe most feared of all the Roman emperors? Not really! The gluteus maximus (Latin- largest of the buttock) is the muscle mass making up most of the buttocks. Contrary to popular opinion, we do not sit on these muscles, because they move aside laterally as we sit. Actually, we sit on our pelvic bones protected with overlying fat, connective tissue and a cushioning bursa.

Although the gluteus maximus is a powerful extensor of the hip (pulling the leg back behind us), it is not much used in walking, but in movements requiring great strength. For example, when we walk upstairs, with each step the gluteus maximus must lift up our entire body weight. Also, the gluteus maximus powerfully extends our hip and leg when getting up from a sitting position. There are two other gluteal muscles: gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Can you guess what their names say about their size compared to the gluteus maximus?

Dr. Dyche was born in New Jersey and trained at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center before coming to Des Moines in 1976. Over 30 plus years he has taught gross anatomy, embryology and neuroanatomy. He also served in administration as associate dean for basic sciences, dean of the College of Health Sciences, and acting director of the PA program. He was one of the founding instructors of CPR and ACLS at a time when few medical schools offered this training. He retired to Oregon in 2008, then returned to DMU in 2009. Did he miss the tornadoes, the below zero wind chills or the cadavers?


  • worms in dogs

    thanks for your post on gluteus maximus. Good information