Glutes

7 Effective Gluteus Medius Exercises To Strengthen Glutes

Gluteus Medius Exercises

Your gluteus medius is one of three muscles that make up your glutes. The other two being your gluteus minimus and gluteus maximus.

While many people have a preference for working on the glute maximus, which is after all the muscle that contributes to size and shape, it’s common to neglect your glute medius.

But, when working out, it’s important to include some glute medius exercises as there are several benefits to strengthening and developing this muscle:

  • It helps to stabilize and support your hip joint, making daily activities and exercise easier to do.
  • When your glute medius functions properly this helps with balance and good posture.
  • It helps to prevent injury, especially to the lower back, hips, and knees.

Recommended Reading – 8 Best Glute Exercises At Home With Resistance Bands


In this article we’ll recommend some of the most effective gluteus medius exercises to help recruit this muscle. But before that, let’s look in a little more detail at this often neglected muscle.

Anatomy of the Gluteus Medius: What It Does & Why It’s Important

glute muscles

The glute medius is a fan shaped muscle and forms the middle layer of the glute muscle groups sitting between the glute max and the glute minimus.

It originates from the crest of the ilium, which is one of the bones of the pelvis and inserts into the greater trochanter, which is a bony prominence on the femur (your thigh bone).

The primary function of your glute medius is hip abduction, that’s moving your leg out to the side and away from the midline of your body. It also helps with internal and external rotation of the thigh, which is turning the leg inwards or outwards.

The muscle contracts helping to keep the pelvis level during activities such as walking and plays a role with side stepping movements, such as climbing out of a vehicle, meaning that it gets a lot of use.

7 Gluteus Medius Exercises for Strengthening Your Glutes

Now that we know more about it, let jump in and look at some of the best exercises for your gluteus medius workout to help strengthen this important muscle.

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Side Lying Hip Abduction

The side lying hip abduction is one of the most popular glute med exercises for helping to work the gluteus medius.

It’s usually performed with just body weight but can be made more challenging by incorporating a resistance band which would be located around the knees or wearing an ankle weight to the working leg.

gluteus maximus

How To Perform The Side Lying Hip Abduction:

  1. Start by lying down on your side and bend the bottom hip and knee to provide stability.
  2. Rest your head on the hand of your arm closest to the floor.
  3. Keep the ankle of your top leg in line with your shoulder, this will be your working leg.
  4. Slowly raise your top leg as high as comfortable.
  5. To place more emphasis on the glute med, internally rotate the hip during the movement.
  6. Repeat for 10 reps on each side.

If you find it difficult to maintain form, consider performing the exercise with your back positioned against a wall. Conversely, if you find it a little too difficult, then bend the knee of the top leg to a 90-degree angle.

Seated Side Foot Raise

The seated side foot raise is a very simple exercise to perform and a great way of isolating the glute medius muscle.

All you need are a set of loop style resistance bands. If you find that one foot can raise higher to the side than the other, this could be a sign of weakness. To address this, consider performing the movement one leg at a time.

How To Perform The Seated Side Foot Raise:

  1. Take a seat somewhere that keeps your feet off the ground.
  2. Place a resistance band around the top of the feet.
  3. Your hips and knees should be bent to around 90 degrees and keep your hands in your lap or across your chest.
  4. Keeping your knees together, slowly pull your feet apart.
  5. Hold briefly before returning to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for 10 repetitions.

Lateral Step-Up

The lateral step up will work several muscles aside from the glute med. These include the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and hip flexors. If you’re new to the exercise start with a low-level platform.

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How To Perform The Lateral Step Up:

  1. Start by standing side on to a step-up platform.
  2. Place the closest foot on the platform and keep your knee over your ankle.
  3. From here simply push through the foot on the platform to raise the other foot off of the ground.
  4. Perform 10 reps before repeating on the other leg.

If you’d like to progress the movement, change the height of the platform which will make it more difficult. To avoid knee pain, make sure you always keep your knee over the ankle.

Pelvic Drop

The pelvic drop is a low impact body weight exercise that is very simple to execute. If you want to progress the exercise then simply hold a free weight, such as a dumbbell, in the same hand as the working leg.

How To Perform The Pelvic Drop:

  1. Start by standing on a stepper with one foot. The other foot should be suspended over the side.
  2. Place your hands on your hips for stability.
  3. Slowly drop down your free leg towards the ground.
  4. The hip on the standing leg should fall into adduction without bending the knee.

Single Leg Deadlift

The single leg deadlift is a great lower body exercise helping to improve coordination, firing up the core and will activate muscles in the posterior chain including the hamstrings, calves, and glutes. The glute medius will work isometrically in the standing leg.

How To Perform The Single Leg Deadlift:

  1. Start by standing upright with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Keep a slight bend in the standing knee and place your hands on your hips. This is your starting position.
  3. Take the working leg behind you by hinging at the hips whilst keeping your back flat.
  4. Aim to get your upper body and the working leg parallel to the floor.
  5. Hold briefly at the top before slowly lowering to the start position.
  6. Repeat for 10 repetitions and then swap legs.

This can be a tricky exercise to master to begin with so be sure to perform the repetitions slowly and with control. If you want to make the exercise more difficult, then hold a free weight in the hand on the same side as the working leg or a barbell in both hands.

Another tip is to make sure you keep the toes of your working leg pointing to the floor throughout the exercise to minimize external hip rotation.

Single Leg Squat

The single leg squat is a great functional exercise for targeting all muscles of the lower legs and your stabiliser muscles. Whilst this exercise can be done without any equipment, by making use of a stepper you’ll be able to improve the range of motion.

How To Do A Single Leg Squat:

  1. Start by standing side on, on a stepper with one foot suspended over the side.
  2. Keep your arms straight out in front of you to improve stability.
  3. Push back your glutes and bend the knee of the fixed leg so your suspended leg drops down to the floor.
  4. Touch the floor with your heel and push back up to the top.

Once your body adapts to this movement and you’d like to progress, simply adjust the height of the stepper by making it taller increasing the range of motion even further.

Side Plank

Regularly performing the side plank, sometimes called the side bridge, will not only improve strength to the glute med, but it will also increase core strength helping with posture and lower back pain.

How To Do The Side Plank:

  1. Start by lying down on your side with one leg stacked on the other. The side closest to the floor will be the side worked.
  2. Support your body with your forearm and place your free hand on your hip.
  3. Raise your hips up off the ground so your body now forms a straight line.
  4. You should be balancing on your forearm and the edge of your bottom foot.
  5. Hold the position for as long as is comfortable before switching sides and repeating.

If you want to make this exercise more challenging, raise and lower the top leg for several reps whilst you’re maintaining the plank position. Throughout this exercise be sure to maintain a straight spine and avoid rotating your hips.

Conclusion

When working on your glutes, add in some of the gluteus medius exercises mentioned above and try and include a mix of both compound and isolation movements into your exercise program with the aim of targeting the smaller muscles.

Don’t forget about the smallest muscle either, before you go why not check out our gluteus minimus exercises.


Recommended Reading – Discover The Best Gym Machines For Glutes


A sedentary lifestyle can cause your gluteus medius to become weak, but the good news is you can easily address this by adding in some or all of the movements suggested above.

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