Gluteus Medius Exercises

Contrary to what Instagram fitness models would have you believe, your butt is not a single muscle. Squatting every day alone won’t help you get the pear-shaped rear you’ve always wanted. So, step out of the squat rack, and hear us out. What you learn today will help put a dent in your butt – literally.

It would be safe to categorize booty enthusiasts into two categories. First, the ‘Physical’ series inspired head-band-wearing group workout junkies. Second, the squat fanatics. While we have nothing against either, both these groups leave gains on the table by sticking to a cult.

Gluteal Anatomy

Glutes consist of three muscles:

  1. Maximus 
  2. Medius
  3. Minimus

If you are hearing about these three muscles for the first time:

First – you are not alone. 

Second – you’re welcome.

Glute Anatomy

Gluteus Maximus: When you check out your butt in the mirror, you are staring at the gluteus maximum. It is the largest gluteus muscle and does most of the heavy lifting. 

Gluteus Minimus: We did an article on gluteus minimus and everything you should know about it. It is the smallest butt muscle and lies beneath the gluteus maximus, medius, and tensor fasciae latae.

Read Also: Gluteus Minimus Exercises For Rounder Hips & a Jaw-Dropping Side Butt

Gluteus Medius: If you want to make the Kardashian’s envy your booty, working on all three gluteus muscles is non-negotiable. Add all exercises mentioned below and in the gluteus minimus article to your arsenal. 

Hello, Gluteus Medius!

The gluteus medius is a broad, thick, and radiating muscle. The giant fan-shaped muscle is located in the posterior hip, extending from the ilium (the largest part of the hip bone) to the proximal femur. It is the muscle you are touching when you run your hands down the sides of your rear. 

Gluteus Medius Insertion

Like the shoulder joint, the gluteus medius is divided into three portions:

  1. Muscle fibers of the posterior portion pass forward and downward. 
  2. Fibers of the middle portion pass downward.
  3. Fibers of the anterior pass backward and downward. 

All these fibers combine to form a flattened tendon that is then inserted into the greater trochanter of the femur (the big knob at the end of the thigh bone). 

The overpowering big brother, gluteus maximus, covers two-thirds of the darling gluteus medius. Anterosuperior (forward-upper) fibers of the medius are the only portion that has a life of their own.

Functions of Gluteus Medius

Gluteus Minimus

1. Hip Abduction

The gluteus medius is the primary hip abductor. The anterior fibers help with internal rotation of the thigh, while the posterior help with lateral rotation when the knee is in extension.

2. Assists in Flexion and Extension

Flexion occurs when the thighs are raised until your upper legs are parallel to the floor or when your torso is bent down. Hip flexion causes closure of the hip joint. On the other hand, hip extension is the opening of the hip joint.

3. Maintains Hip Level

If it were not for the gluteus medius, you would walk like a Victoria’s Secret model trying too hard. The medius acts from the femur to stabilize the pelvis and maintains the trunk upright when standing on one leg, running, and walking when one leg is off the ground. 

The gluteus medius and minimus prevent the pelvis from sagging downwards on the unsupported side by applying traction on the hip bone.

4. Rotations

The gluteus medius helps with the internal (anterior portion) and external (posterior) rotation of the hip. In internal rotation, the legs are turned inwards. External rotations transpire when your hips are rotated outwards.

5. Maintains Frontal Plane Stability

A strong gluteus medius is crucial for maintaining frontal plane stability of the pelvis. If you feel like a deer caught in the headlights reading about the three planes of motion, we highly recommend reading this article

Sabotaging Gluteus Medius

Squats

Sometimes knowing what not to do can do you better than knowing what you should do. You can save yourself a lot of trouble by avoiding the following gluteus medius-wrecking mistakes:

1. Standing with bodyweight shifted mainly on one limb can cause hip joint adduction and the pelvis to sway sideways. Maintaining this position for an extended period can lengthen the gluteus medius muscles which can, in turn, reduce hip stability and cause lower back pain. Be mindful of your posture at all times before a bad habit starts creating issues.

2. Sitting crossed-legged for long periods can weaken the hip abductor muscles by putting the muscle in an elongated position. If you prefer sitting with your legs crossed, make sure you are switching the top leg often. 

3. Sleeping on your sides without a pillow under your top leg can lead to the top leg flexed and adducted over the lower leg. Staying in this position for 2-4 hours on a stretch every night can compound your problems quickly. 

Research has found that sleeping in nonsymmetrical postures can cause negative structural changes to your spine. Using a pillow between your legs to improve your sleeping posture can help maintain spinal health and overall posture.

Top 13 Exercises For Building Solid Gluteus Medius

Weighted Exercises:

1. Frog Pump

With every gluteus medius exercise, you need to target the outside of your butts. You need to squeeze your butt at the top of the movement to make the most of the exercises. 

Steps:

  1. Lay down with your back on an exercise mat.
  2. Fold your knees so that you can put the soles of your feet together.
  3. Place a dumbbell a little above your groin and grab it with both your hands.
  4. Thrust your hips explosively while driving the sides of your feet into the ground.
  5. Contract your glutes at the top of the movement.
  6. Return to the starting position and repeat for reps.
  7. This exercise should feel like a mix of clamshells and hip thrusts.

2. Lateral Step-Up

Step Ups For Bigges Wheels

If you don’t feel a sick pump in your side glutes after any of the exercises mentioned in this list, you are doing it wrong. Drop your ego, lighten the weights, and go at it again.

Steps:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand next to an elevated surface with your side body facing it.
  2. Lift the foot closest to the platform and place it on top.
  3. Using the raised leg, with minimal assistance from the other, push through the whole foot to lift yourself to a standing position on the box.
  4. Step back down into the starting position.
  5. Repeat for recommended reps.
  6. Switch sides and repeat.

3. Banded Barbell Hip Thrust

Glutes are the most powerful muscles in your body. They will jump in to assist you whenever you perform an exercise that engages the lower body. Going too heavy on exercises on this list will engage the gluteus maximus and leave the medius in limbo. Focus on performing the exercise with correct form and contracting your side glutes. Weights can come later.

Steps:

  1. Sit with your back placed against a flat bench.
  2. Bend at your knees so that your feet are planted flat on the floor.
  3. Place a band around your knees and a barbell across your hips.
  4. Squeeze the glutes and thrust the bar straight up until your hips are in line with the shoulder and knees.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

4. Single-Leg Deadlift

Single Leg Deadlift

Single-leg exercises are incredibly effective at building the side butt. They also help build your core strength and stability. You should have at least one single-leg exercise in your glute workout.

Steps:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). 
  2. Stand with a shoulder-wide stance, pin back your shoulders and push your chest out.
  3. Slightly bend your left knee and lift it off the floor.
  4. Find a stable starting position.
  5. Slowly push your left leg back and let your torso come forward.
  6. Maintain a tight core throughout the exercise.
  7. Go as low as you can without losing balance.
  8. Return to the starting position and repeat for reps before switching sides.

Bodyweight Exercises:

5. Isometric Single-Leg Wall Lean

You don’t need to use a ton of weight to train your gluteus medius effectively. Hell, you could pump your side butt with blood and lactic acids with bodyweight and isometric exercises alone.

Steps:

  1. Stand next to a wall with your side body facing it.
  2. Lift the leg closest to the wall until your upper leg is parallel to the floor.
  3. Press the foot of the other leg into the floor while driving the elevated leg into the wall.
  4. The gluteus medius of the planted leg will kick in to stabilize the pelvis.

6. Banded Clamshell

Clamshells are one of the most effective exercises for building the gluteus medius. Remember: Your focus should be on contracting the side butt with every rep.

Steps:

  1. Lie on your side with legs stacked, and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. 
  2. Place a resistance band around your knees.
  3. Rest your head on your lower arm, and place your top arm on your waist.
  4. Brace your core as it will help stabilize your spine and pelvis.
  5. While keeping your feet touching, raise your upper knee as high as you can without shifting your hips or pelvis.
  6. Pause and contract your glutes at the top of the movement.
  7. Return to the starting position and repeat before switching sides.

7. Front Plank With Hip Extension

Steps:

  1. Get into a planking position.
  2. Lift one leg off the floor while maintaining a slight bend in the knee.
  3. Try to pull your elevated leg past parallel without extending at the hips.
  4. Hold and contract at the top.
  5. Return to the starting position with a controlled motion and repeat for reps.

8. Banded Monster Walk

Steps:

  1. Place a resistance band around the knees or shins.
  2. Assume a quarter-squat position.
  3. While maintaining the squat, step forward diagonally as if walking.
  4. Walk back to the starting position.

9. Lateral Band Walk

Steps:

  1. Place a resistance band around your knees or shins.
  2. Assume a quarter-squat stance.
  3. Maintain the squat position while stepping laterally.
  4. Take wide enough steps so that there is constant tension on the band.

10. Side-Lying Abduction

Steps:

  1. On an exercise mat, lie down on your side.
  2. Your body should be in a straight line throughout the exercise.
  3. Place one leg on top of the other.
  4. Rest your head on your lower arm, and place your top arm on your waist.
  5. Lift your top leg as high as you can.
  6. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement before returning to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for the recommended reps.

11. Side Plank With Abduction

Steps:

  1. Lay down on an exercise mat with your right elbow and leg on the ground.
  2. Lift your body into a side plank position. Your body should be in a straight line at the start of the exercise.
  3. Your right elbow should be under your right shoulder, and the lower arm should be perpendicular to your torso.
  4. Raise your top leg as far as you can and contract your side butt at the top.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

12. Single-Leg Squat

Single Leg Squat

The last two exercises are arguably the most challenging exercises on the list. But don’t worry, we won’t ask you to perform a single-leg “ass to the grass” squat. You can use a flat bench or an elevated platform to limit your range your motion until you build strength in your legs.

Steps:

  1. Stand with your back towards an elevated platform.
  2. Lift your right leg forward and hold it out straight and slightly in front of your torso.
  3. Extend your arms straight in front of you for balance.
  4. Perform a squat by bending at your left knee while keeping your torso upright.
  5. Lower down until you touch the box. 
  6. Squeeze your glutes as you push into the left foot to stand back up. 

13. Single-Leg Wall Sit

Steps:

  1. Stand with your back against a wall.
  2. Lift your right leg forward and hold it out straight and slightly in front of your torso.
  3. Slide your back down the wall until your upper legs are parallel to the floor.
  4. Squeeze your glutes and return to the starting position.
  5. Your planted lower leg should be parallel to the wall at all times.
  6. The knee of your planted leg should not extend beyond your toes at any point throughout the exercise.

Conclusion

For the overall development of your glutes, you need to think beyond squats. Design your glute workouts around the three gluteal muscles. 

People train their anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids, and even the inner, medial and outer quad sweep, but they don’t follow the same approach for the glutes. 

Remember: The goal with these exercises is to contract the side glutes with every rep. If you feel a pump in the gluteus maximus, you should lower the weights and increase the TuT (time under tension) for a muscle ripping pump in the gluteus medius.