When it comes to your butt, the gluteus maximus seems to get most of the attention. It’s the biggest of three large muscles in your rear end. But the next largest, the gluteus medius, is just as important for body stability and balance.
Whether you’re interested in increasing muscle mass, strength, or improving your balance, knowing how to work out your gluteus medius can help.
The gluteus medius lies towards the top and outside of what you see when you look at your behind. It’s the muscle that contracts when you move one leg away from the other (abduction). It also provides stabilization and supports leg rotation.
The gluteus medius plays an instrumental role in leveling your hips and managing your entire body’s biomechanics, says Jimmy Minardi of Minardi Training. “These muscles extend the thigh at the knee and provide stabilization and mobility to the sacrum and lower back area.”
The gluteus medius even works when you’re standing still. “It is also a key muscle group for maintaining a nice, youthful posture,” says Minardi.
Injury, overuse, or underdevelopment of the gluteus medius can all lead to significant problems. This is most common in runners, says physiotherapist Sean Fyfe at The Sports Injury Doctor. That’s because they often compensate for a weak or fatigued gluteus medius muscle by changing their running form, which can lead to injury and imbalance.
But it’s not only athletes who experience pain and problems originating from the gluteus medius. And it’s not only people with pain and problems that want to tone and tighten this big muscle.
Overall, Minardi says, you can work your glutes by getting outside and hitting some hills or bleachers. He recommends ditching the elevator at every chance and opting for stairs instead.
As for specific exercises that target the gluteus medius, here are three:
“These target the medius, help improve pelvic stabilization, and mobility,” says Minardi.
- Using an incline, like a bench or log outside, place hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Position one leg forward, bending it under your body.
- Extend the other leg back.
- Alternate leg positions, landing on both feet simultaneously.
Minardi recommends two sets of 30 mountain climbers, increasing leg speed by about 20 percent after each set of 10.
Lunge Split Jacks
This move targets all of your glute muscles while increasing your cardio strength, according to Minardi.
- Begin by standing with one foot forward and one foot back, like you are taking a big step, with 2 or 3 feet in between.
- Lower into a split squat.
- Jump up and switch foot positions, landing with the opposite foot forward.
- As soon as you land, lower again into a split squat.
Thirty split jacks are enough to get started.
Plyometrics are powerful moves that work the entire body. With these two specific approaches, you’re hitting the glutes, but also the core, and increasing cardio strength. These will require the use of a raised step or rock.
Minardi recommends 10 tuck jumps. To do these:
- Start by standing parallel to your step or elevated marker.
- Jump up, bringing your knees to your chest, and land just on the other side of your step.
- When you land, immediately explode back up into the air and jump to the other side.
- If you are not comfortable jumping over something, you can do this move without an actual object — just jump as far and high as you would if the object were there.
He also recommends 10 rotating jumps. Similar to tuck jumps, you’ll jump over the marker, but rotate your body 180 degrees as you do, so you land in the reverse position.
Working your gluteus medius doesn’t only leave you with a well-sculpted behind, but better posture and fitness overall.