I like big butts and I cannot lie : are the glutes the most important muscle group in Strongman?
Who would have known, all those years ago, that Sir Mix-a-lot was such an avid strongman fan? When girl walks in, with an itty bitty waist and a round thing in your face, he was referring to an Atlas stone right?
But in all seriousness, everyone knows strong legs are critical to a strong man or woman, and skwats and deads build big butts, but let's look a little closer at how important the power generated specifically by the glutes is to success in the sport of moving awkward objects.
The glutes role in hip extension is super important in both the clean and press of the log. Once the log is lapped, the explosive speed of the log rolling up the chest is critical to positioning it correctly for the press, and guess where that power is coming from? And unlike a barbell, where the bar can be re-caught in a lower position (power clean, full clean), enough energy must be imparted into the log from the hips to finish the movement in one motion.
As for the press, shoulder strength is usually the limiting factor for most. But as we generally push press a log, the more power that can be derived from the legs, the less the arms and shoulders have to do. The key difference with the log to an axle or barbell, is the weight positioning. This thing is big, usually from 8 to 12 inch diameter, so the weight will be more forward than usual, so an even, balanced and upright dip drive using both quads and glutes isn't ideal. You will be leaning back, to centre the massive over your feet, so guess where the drive is going to come from? Mix-a-lots favourite anatomical feature.
The final motion of loading a stone, once it is in the lap, is similar to cleaning a log, but let's focus on the DIRECTION of the force being generated. Unlike a deadlift or squat or press, that thing you need to put the large concrete ball on is out in front of you, a looong way away from the centre line of your body. Nearly all the strength work we do, the load is being moved axially (straight up and down), rather than in the anteroposterior plane (perpendicular to the line of the body). In the case of a stone load, force needs to be generated at about 45 degrees to the body, in order to load the stone efficiently. Not a great deal of help is going to come from the quads or hamstrings here, it's a violent forward and upward thrust from the hips (glutes) that is going to move it.
Squatting and dead lifting
We won't go into too much detail here, but it's fair to say the glutes are critical to both.
That high pick up point lets us move SERIOUS amounts of weight in comparison to our squat. Walking with 3+ times your own bodyweight demands strength and stability from every part of your body so as not to fold in half like a stapler, but guess what is picking it up off the ground in the first place?
Same principles as the stone load. Awkward weight, out in front of the body, 45 degree angle of drive. The difference here is you do have the option to drive through your toes, and put the load on your quads, but next time you are tyre flipping, try sitting back on your heals and drive with your hips too, and note the difference.
Spend some time focussing on building strength in your hip extension to the benefit of all your lifts and events, because at the end of the day, ones anaconda (or female version of) don't want none, unless you got buns hon ;)