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Exercises for Gluteal Muscular Atrophy

author image Erika McAuley
Erika McAuley is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, British Columbia. As an exercise rehabilitation professional, she has been preventing and treating musculoskeletal injuries in athletes and civil workers since 2008. McAuley holds a Bachelor of Human Kinetics in athletic therapy from Trinity Western University and an Advanced Certificate in Athletic Therapy from Mount Royal University.
Exercises for Gluteal Muscular Atrophy
A young woman is training her glutes. Photo Credit LUNAMARINA/iStock/Getty Images

Your buttocks, or your gluteals, are made up of three individual muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. As with all muscular tissue, your gluteal mass will decrease if you don't use it. And if you leave your buttocks to weaken and sag, you're also leaving your body susceptible to injuries caused by the muscle imbalance. If you've lost gluteal muscle mass, you can get it back with specific exercises.

Dig Deep

The deepest of the three gluteal muscles is your gluteus minimus. Because it attaches to the front of your upper leg, it flexes and medially rotates your hip when contracted. It is unique, because it performs the opposite actions of the other gluteal muscles. To target this muscle, lie on your side on a mat. Slightly roll your top leg inward, pointing your toes toward the floor. Lift your top leg toward the ceiling and lower it back down to rest both legs together. Repeat 15 to 20 times with each leg.

Target The Middle Muscle

Your gluteus medius is situated more toward the outside of your hip, but it lies beneath your gluteus maximus and over your gluteus minimus. It is a hip abductor, which means it helps move your leg out to the side of your body. Use a resistance band and tie a knot in it to create a loop. Step through the loop with both feet and place the loop around your ankles. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to keep the band taut. Shift your weight to your left leg and lift your right leg out to the side against the resistance of the band. Repeat the same movement with your left leg and complete 10 to 14 repetitions with each leg.

Go For The Max

Your gluteus maximus is the most superficial of the three gluteal muscle. It's responsible for extending, laterally rotating and abducting your hip. To build this muscle, get on your hands and knees on top of a mat. While keeping your back level, tighten your abdominals to protect your lower back. Straighten your right knee and raise your right heel toward the ceiling and then lower it to the start position. Repeat 10 to 15 repetitions with both legs.

Get 'Em All

Exercises that individually target the three gluteal muscles help reverse atrophy. But they also take time. When you're in a bit of a rush, do a body weight squat, which targets all three muscles at once. Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Tighten your abdominal muscles to support your lower back and bend your knees to 90 degrees and drop your buttocks as if to sit in a chair. Straighten your knees to return to standing and take a large side-step to the right. Repeat the squat. Repeat this sequence, stepping five times to the right and five times to the left.

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