Want to strengthen those glute muscles for better stability and a firm backside? These 11 gluteus minimus exercises are perfect for anyone from beginner to experienced – and you can do them all at home with little to no equipment!
What is the Gluteus Minimus?
Your glute muscle group – the muscles in your booty – act to stabilize your body and assist in much of your movement throughout the day. (That’s right, your butt is for much more than just cushioning your seat!)
The glutes are made up of three main parts:
- gluteus maximus
- gluteus medius
- gluteus minimus
As you can probably guess from their names, the gluteus maximus is the largest glute muscle. It makes up the majority of your butt and does the most work. The glute max is actually the largest muscle in the body! It helps to keep your torso upright and stabilized, and helps with hip extension and hip abduction as well as transverse abduction and external rotation of the leg.
The gluteus medius muscle is smaller, and also helps with stabilization of the body. It’s the muscle you probably feel when you move your leg out to the side of your body (abduction), such as during a lateral lunge or side lying leg lift. It also works when you rotate your leg outward when it’s behind you (think ballerina moves) or rotate your leg inward when it’s in front of you.
The gluteus minimus is the smallest, yet very important fan-shaped muscle that is deeper in the glute area. It works with the gluteus medius for abduction movements and helps to support the pelvis when you walk.
Benefits of Gluteus Minimus Exercises
If you have a job or lifestyle that results in you sitting for most of the day, there’s a good chance that your gluteus minimus muscles don’t get worked as much as they should. They become weak and overly tight, leading to pain and injury.
By strengthening you gluteus minimus, you can enjoy these benefits:
- hip joint stability
- reduced hip pain
- reduced lower back pain
- improved performance in running and other exercises
- prevention of Trendelenburg Gait and other hip/pelvic injuries
- reduced knee pain
- improved balance
- and of course… a more attractive booty
Because the gluteus minimus and the gluteus medius work so closely together, it’s not really possible to isolate the gluteus minimus and strengthen it on its own. However, because the two muscles are so important to our daily movement and body stability, it’s essential that we target these muscles with specific exercises to build strong glutes all around.
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11 Best Gluteus Minimus Exercises for All Fitness Levels
Ready to work those glutes? Put on some comfy clothes, and grab a mat if you want one. Most of these simple exercises don’t require any equipment, but you may want a resistance loop for some. We like these inexpensive resistance loops from Amazon but any resistance band will do.
Always check your bands for any tears or weak spots before you start! Then give yourself a 5-10 minute warmup to get your heart rate up and get your body warm for the workout.
Aim to do 3 sets of 12-15 reps for each exercise, with as little rest as possible.
1. Side Lying Hip Abduction
Start by lying on your mat on your right side, supporting your upper body with your arms. Keeping your core engaged for stability, slowly lift and lower your left leg. No need to take your leg too high, just bring it up until you feel your glute contracting.
A variation of this move that I like is what I call Rainbow Toe Taps. Rather than bringing your leg straight up and down, you move it in more of a rainbow motion. Raise your top leg and tap it to the front corner of your mat, then lift it and move it in an arc to tap the back corner of your mat. You can see the move here in my web story:
Make sure to keep your body stable so it doesn’t rock during this move!
This is a move that my physical therapist made me do when I had hip stabilization issues during pregnancy, and one that I loved to prescribe to my clients when I was a personal trainer at a gym. It’s one of the best exercises to prevent weak glutes.
The starting position is similar to the side lying hip abduction, but with knees bent at 90 degrees and your heels in line with your butt. Keeping your feet together, open your knees by lifting your top knee up and slowly lowering it back down.
Once again, make sure to keep your core engaged so your body doesn’t rock back and forth. Nothing should be moving except your top leg, with your knee lifting and lowering. To increase the intensity of this exercise, add a resistance band above your knees.
3. Single-leg Glute Bridge
Another great exercise, the single-leg bridge actually targets all three of the glute muscles. Similar to a hip thrust (and often the terms are used interchangeably), the glute bridge is maybe the best glute exercise I’ve found – because it’s great for everyone!
Start by lying on the floor or mat, on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Raise your left leg so that your left foot is pointed toward the ceiling. Press through the heel of your right foot as you lift your hips up to a bridge position and lower them back down, keeping your left leg raised throughout the exercise.
4. Side Plank Hip Dips
Side plank can be a difficult position if you lack core strength. If you’re unable to support your body on your hand/forearm and the side of your foot, you can modify this move by supporting your body on your lower knee.
In side plank position, lower your hip down towards the floor. Then squeeze as you lift your hips back up to starting position.
This move definitely works your obliques, but it also incorporates many different muscles of your core, glutes, shoulders… honestly you’ll feel this one in your entire body!
5. Seated Resistance Band Abductions
Remember those incredibly awkward hip abduction machines at the gym? The ones that you wouldn’t want to do unless the machine was facing a wall (and maybe even then it still felt weird)?
Well you can replicate those hip abduction exercises at home with just a resistance band!
Slip a resistance loop over your legs and place it around the tops of your knees. Keeping your feet on the floor. Press your knees outward and slowly return back to start. Be sure not to rush this move! With a very tight or strong band, you’ll have to work even harder to keep your knees from flying back together too quickly.
You’ll find that this exercise is similar to the clamshells above, just in a different position.
6. Banded Single Leg Press
Single leg exercises such as the single-leg squat, single-leg deadlift, or the Bulgarian split squat all work the glute med and the glute min because those muscles are needed for hip stability. However, those exercises are more advanced and can be extremely difficult for some people.
We can mimic the single-leg squat with the banded single leg press, and still activate those glute muscles.
Lie on your back with a resistance band, with your left leg on the floor and the band around your right foot. Holding firmly onto the band, press your right heel out until your leg is straight – just as you would if you were performing a single leg squat on that right leg. Slowly bend that knee and return to your starting position.
Play around with different lengths or amounts of resistance in your band so you get a good challenge without sacrificing good form.
7. Side Plank with Hip Abduction
This move can be done in a full side plank with your weight distributed between your hand and the side of your foot, or you can modify and put your knee down for extra stability.
Personally, I’m not yet strong enough to do this on my feet – plus my booty tends to cramp up when I try – so I stick with the modified side plank and still get a great workout!
In side plank, keep your core engaged for stability and slowly lift and lower your top leg. You’ll notice that not only do your glutes on your top hip start to burn with the lifting and lowering, but your glutes on the bottom side of your hips burn too – from keeping your body stable.
This is one full-body exercises that really works you!
8. Plank Hip Abduction
If you haven’t figured it out yet, hip abductor exercises just means your leg is moving away from your body to the side – like with a side lunge or this move. In a plank position (which can either be on your hands or on your forearms), move one leg away from your body to tap it out to the side, then return back to plank.
I love using sliders for this exercise because it makes the movement smoother and less of a tap-out/tap-in move. You can mimic a slider with a paper plate if you’re on carpet, or an old rag if you’re on hard flooring.
Need to regress this move a bit? Feel free to drop your opposite leg down into a modified plank while you move the working leg out and in.
9. Fire Hydrants
I bet you can easily figure out why these are called fire hydrants… because it looks exactly like what a dog does when he is near a fire hydrant!
While this move may look or seem silly, your booty will assure you that it is not silly at all. Actually, it’s a SERIOUS booty burner.
On all fours (also called tabletop position), raise your bent knee to one side until it is about hip height. Then slowly lower back down to the starting position. Do your best to keep the rest of your body completely still as you complete this move.
If you really want to make this exercise more difficult, grip a 1-2 pound dumbbell behind your right knee. This exercise is deceiving though, and you may find that additional weight isn’t needed!
10. Curtsy Lunges
Lunges of all types are really good glute exercises, but curtsy lunges are especially good gluteus minimus and gluteus medius exercises. As with all lunges, focus on completing the movement slowly with full range of motion and good form.
With your weight in your right leg, step your left leg diagonally behind you as you lower down into a curtsy position. Once you’ve reached 90 degrees in both legs, press through your right heel to bring yourself back to standing.
Really concentrate on feeling the work in your right glute (and not your quadriceps) with this move. Give your glute a little squeeze at the bottom and all the way back up. Pretty sure I was squeezing mine during this picture, and that’s why my face looks so serious – haha!
11. Banded Lateral Walks (Monster Walks)
Known by a variety of names, this glute exercise is another favorite in personal training and physical therapy everywhere. Another variation of a hip abduction move with resistance, you’ll also target your upper leg muscles with the slightly squatting position here.
With a resistance loop around your thighs, bend your knees a bit and step to the side. You can either step to the side for many reps (5-20 steps) before returning in the other direction, or you can step 1-2 steps one way and then 1-2 steps back. Make this exercise work for you, regardless of how much space is available.
You can change this move up a bit by stepping forward in a zig-zag pattern, then returning back to start by zig-zag stepping backwards. No matter which direction you go, this exercise will give your lower body a great workout!
Glute Exercise Tips
To really get the best results with these glute exercises and avoid “dead butt syndrome” – yes, it’s a thing – I recommend you do glute activation exercises 2-3 times per week. You can add them to your workout routine (especially great before leg day, to get your glutes awake and firing). Or you can just sprinkle them into your day here or there, such as doing some clamshells or glute bridges while watching TV or reading with your kids.
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