Exercises to Isolate the Gluteus Minimus

You've probably heard of your glute max, but there are two more glute muscles — medius and minimus. The gluteus minimus is one of the six hip abductors. It starts on your hip bone and extends out to your upper-thigh bone.

Side bridges isolate the gluteus minimus. (Image: Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/GettyImages)

This muscle is extremely important for hip stabilization, especially when you are balancing on one leg. To keep your gluteus minimus strong, perform hip abduction exercises. Prior to any targeted exercises, make sure to warm up for at least 15 minutes, such as with jogging or walking. Consult with your doctor before starting a workout regimen.

1. Bent Knee Side Bridge

The bent knee side bridge will work out both sides of your butt at the same time in slightly different ways.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your right side. Place your right elbow under your right shoulder and your right forearm perpendicular to your body. Place your left hand on your left hip. Bend both knees to 90 degrees and keep them bent.

Keep your hips fully extended. Push into your right forearm and lift your right hip off the floor. Simultaneously lift your left leg up. Slowly lower to the floor. Complete three sets of 15. Repeat on the other side.

2. Side Bridge

Side bridge is similar to bent-knee side bridge. However, since your legs are straight in side bridge, it's more challenging, thereby demanding more work out of your gluteus minimus.

HOW TO DO IT: Assume the same position as in bent-knee side bridge, but in this exercise your legs are straight. Push into your bottom forearm as you lift your hip off the mat, balancing on the lateral edge of your bottom foot.

Simultaneously lift your top leg. Slowly lower your top leg down to meet your bottom leg and lower your hip to the floor. Complete three sets of 15. Repeat on the other side.

3. Transverse Abduction

Transverse abduction is the movement of your leg away from the body when the hip is bent or flexed.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on the floor on your right side. Place your right hand under your head and your left hand on your left hip. Keep your right hip extended and both of your legs straight.

Flex your left hip to 90 degrees, bringing your left leg in front of you parallel to the floor. Lift your left leg as high as you can. Slowly lower it down to the starting position. Complete three sets of 15. Repeat on the other side.

4. Seated Pretzel Stretch

Stretching after performing strengthening exercises will help restore your muscles. In yoga, seated pretzel stretch is called Half Lord of the Fishes or Ardha Matsyendrasana.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and your right hand on the floor behind you. Bend your right knee and cross it over your left leg. Reach your left arm up then cross it over your right leg, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right thigh.

Hold the pose for six long and deep breaths, twisting deeper on each exhale. Repeat on the other side. For a deeper stretch, bend your bottom leg.

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