9 Gluteus Medius Exercises for a Stronger Butt and Hips

Unlike the very famous gluteus maximus, which makes up most of the shape and size of your hips, the gluteus medius rarely gets the spotlight. This muscle appears above and beyond the rounded part of your glutes and is responsible for abducting your legs (raising them to the side). But if you’ve ever experienced “gluteal amnesia” (aka “dead butt syndrome”), you understand the importance of gluteus medius exercises in your routine.

Learn more about the benefits of gluteus medius exercises and which ones are most effective.

Why You Should Target Your Gluteus Medius

“Most people’s problem isn’t necessarily a weak gluteus medius, but an inactive one,” says Trevor Thimay, CSCS, Beachbody’s senior director of fitness and nutrition content.

Most of us spend our days hunched over a keyboard, which keeps our hip flexors in a perpetually shortened state. Thanks to a phenomenon called “reciprocal inhibition,” the muscles on the other side of the joint—in this case, the glutes, including the gluteus medius—stretch or relax. “As a result, your butt basically shuts down,” Thimay says.

How much damage can an offline gluteus medius do? A lot, considering what the gluteus medius does (read more below). Without a properly functioning glute med, other parts of the body have to relax, leading to pain and dysfunction. Athletic performance issues often pop up first, says physical therapist Adrian Miranda, PT, DPT, OCS, of Windsor Physical Therapy in Brooklyn, New York.

Take, for example, a competitive swimmer. “Your time can depend on how fast you get off the blocks. If you have a weak gluteus medius muscle, your knee can collapse and it can cost you seconds,” says Miranda. Over time, compensating for that movement takes a toll on the knees and lower back, causing pain. “The loss of seconds now translates into loss of daily activities such as exercise, competition and eventually walking,” he says.

9 Gluteus Medius Exercises for Strength and Shape

Designed to wake up your lazy glutes, these powerful moves include a mix of Miranda and Thiem’s ​​favorite weighted and weightless glute med exercises. Target your gluteus medius muscle at least two to three times a week.

1. Glute bridge

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor and your arms at your sides. This position begins
  • Engage your core, squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  • Pause, and then slowly return to the starting position.

2. Dumbbell squat

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing each other. This position begins.
  • Keeping your chest up, back straight and core engaged, push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Squeeze your glutes as you push through your heels and return to the starting position.

3. Clamshell

  • Lie on your left side with your feet stacked and your hips and knees bent 45 degrees.
  • Rest your head on your left arm and place your right palm on the floor in front of your chest. This position begins.
  • Keeping your heels together, your core engaged, and left knee on the ground, raise your right knee.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position. Do equal reps on both sides.

Make it harder: Loop a resistance band around your legs, just above your knees, before taking the starting position.

4. Lateral band walks

  • Loop a small resistance band around both legs just above your knees. Stand in a quarter squat with your feet shoulder-width apart, creating tension in the band. This position begins.
  • Keeping your knees bent and core engaged, step to the right with your right leg. Follow through with your left leg, maintaining tension on the band.
  • Take one more step to the right, and then two steps to the left to return to the starting position.

5. Dumbbell Deadlift

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing back. This position begins.
  • Keeping your back flat and core engaged, push your hips back and lower the dumbbells to mid-shin level, keeping the weights close to your body.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position, pushing your hips forward to raise your torso.

6. Dumbbell step-up

Dumbbell step up  Gluteus medius exercise

  • Stand facing a bench or box at about knee height, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides, palms down.
  • Place your left leg in the middle of the bench so that your hip, knee and ankle are all bent 90 degrees. This position begins.
  • Keeping your chest up and core engaged, push your body up with your left leg until it’s straight (don’t let your right leg touch the bench—drive it toward the ceiling at the top of the movement).
  • Pause, and then lower your body back to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.

7. Side leg lift

Side leg lift  Gluteus medius exercise

  • Lie on your left side with your legs and hips stacked, your legs straight, and your head resting on your left arm. This position begins.
  • Keeping your core engaged, slowly raise your right leg as high as possible without rotating your hips.
  • Pause, and then lower your right leg back to the starting position.
  • Complete all your reps, switch sides and repeat.

8. Opposite arm-leg single-leg straight-leg deadlift

Single leg deadlift  Gluteus medius exercise

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in your right hand in front of your right thigh.
  • Shift your weight to your left leg and lift your right leg a few inches off the floor behind you. This position begins.
  • Keeping your back flat and core engaged, push your hips back and lower the weight until your torso is almost parallel to the floor, raising your right leg behind you.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position.

9. Lateral step-up

Dumbbell lateral step up  Gluteus medius exercise

  • Stand on your right side facing a bench or box at about knee height, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your side, palms facing inward.
  • Place your right foot in the middle of the bench. This position begins.
  • Keeping your chest up and core engaged, push your body up with your right leg until it’s straight (don’t let your left leg touch the bench).
  • Pause, and then lower your body back to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.

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