Your gluteus medius, one of three gluteal muscles, is a broad, thick band of muscle located on the outside of your hip. It is the primary mover responsible for abduction, or moving your leg to the side as in a standing side-leg lift or jumping jack move. There are many isometric type exercises you can do at home that target and strengthen this area of your hip. For increased intensity and an additional challenge, you can add ankle weights for some of the exercises.
The Classic Hydrant or Dirty Dog
The hydrant or dirty dog exercise primarily targets your gluteus medius but will also tone your abdominal wall and obliques. Position yourself on all fours on a mat or soft surface. Place your hands on the mat directly underneath your shoulders and your knees hip-width apart. Make sure your spine is straight and your head is in line with your spine. Slowly lift your left knee straight out to the side, maintaining the 90-degree angle throughout the movement. Pause when the knee is lined up with your hip. Lower and raise the leg for 10 to 20 repetitions. Repeat the movement on the opposite leg.
Lying Forward Leg Lift
This exercise recruits your hip abductors as well as secondary muscles below the knee. Ankle weights are optional. Lie on your side with your bottom leg bent and top leg extended in front of you at a right angle to your torso. Keep your top knee soft, with hips stacked, and try not to rock back on your bottom hip as you lift your leg. Turn your toe slightly down towards the ground as you extend and lift your leg. When the leg is a little higher than your hip, pause and then lower and raise for 10 to 20 repetitions. Repeat the sequence on the opposite leg for the same number of repetitions.
Straight Leg Side Plank
Not only is the side plank an effective exercise for toning your gluteus medius, but it also strengthens the rest of your gluteals and your obliques. Position yourself on a mat on your right elbow with your body in one straight line. Stack your left leg directly on top of your right leg with your feet placed one on top of the other. Your bottom or right hip and knee should be resting on the mat with your upper torso lifted. Exhale, contract your abdominals and slowly raise your hip and knee off the ground until you are propped up only on your elbow and the lower part of your leg. Hold the lifted plank position for 3 to 5 seconds then lower your hip back to the mat. Repeat for two to three more sets. Change to your left side and repeat the sequence.