The gluteus minimus is often an overlooked muscle when it comes to strength training. The minimus muscle connects to the other gluteus muscles in your buttocks as well as your hip abductors, forming a bridge between your rear and your hips. Though you can't target just the gluteus minimus, working your hips will help tone and define the muscle.
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Types of Motion
Because the gluteus minimus connects with the outside of your hip and assists with outward motion, the best movement to strengthen the muscle is to lift your leg out to the side. A variety of exercises involve this movement, which also works your hip abductor muscles, the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. Trying different versions of the abductor exercise helps you find the best one for you. You can always make the moves harder by using ankle weights or resistance bands or using a weight machine at the gym designed for abductor movements.
Exercises on Your Feet
Exercising while standing offers the added benefit of working muscles in your stationary leg, which must alone hold your body weight. These exercises also help you develop stronger balance. For example, stand with your feet together and lift one leg straight out to the side, keeping your knee extended. Lower back to your starting position and 10 repetitions on each side. Adding a side leg lift to the top of a standard squat move means you will work all your gluteus muscles in the same exercise.
Exercising While Sitting
While you're seated, you have the ability to work your gluteus minimus using internal rotation. Sit on the edge of a chair or a weight bench and keep your knees bent at 90-degree angles and move your leg outward by twisting at the hip. Move your leg back past the starting position, behind your other leg. Continue with the back-and-forth motion for two sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.
Getting on the Floor
Just because you're lying on the floor doesn't mean the abductor exercises are any easier. These moves effectively target your outer hip and the gluteus minimus when you lift your leg out to the side away from your body during abduction. When on your side, for example, lift your upper leg to a 45-degree angle and lower, keeping your knee straight and the bottom leg on the floor for one set of 10 repetitions. For a more advanced move, lift your upper body up onto your elbow and then pick your hips up off the floor as you lift your upper leg toward the ceiling during the abduction movement. The bottom foot stays on the floor. This allows you to work both sides of your hips at the same time, but be sure to give each a chance to work as the top leg. Start with one set of 10 repetitions for each leg and add a second set when possible.