7 Gluteus Minimus Exercises for Hip Strength, Power and Stability

Gluteus Minimus Exercises

Weak gluteus minimus muscles can lead to all sorts of musculoskeletal issues, such as back, hip and knee pain.

This is because they play an important role in hip stability, abduction and internal rotation.

They may not be as famous, or big, as their close neighbor, the gluteus maximus, but an effective fitness routine should ensure the gluteus minimus muscles aren’t getting ignored.

You’ll find exercises like squats, deadlifts and hip thrusts do naturally recruit all 3 gluteus muscle groups (maximus, medius and minimus)… but in some instances, you may want to double down on targeting the outer hips specifically (especially if you find you’re struggling with hip stability during single leg/balance movements).

This guide lists out our favorite gluteus minimus exercises, including how to perform them and common mistakes to avoid.

At a Glance – Gluteus Minimus Exercises

  • Clamshells
  • Lateral Band Walks (Side Steps)
  • Fire Hydrants
  • Lying Hip Abduction
  • Monster Walks
  • Hip Abduction Machine
  • Side Plank Hip Dips

What (and Where) are the Gluteus Minimus Muscles?

The gluteus minimus muscles are one of the three muscle groups that make up our “glutes”, along with the gluteus medius and the gluteus maximus muscles.

They’re the smallest of the three, sitting underneath the gluteus medius, and are primarily responsible for hip abduction, which is the movement of the leg away from the midline of the body, and internal rotation of the hip.

But, the impact goes beyond these simple movement patterns, as weakness around the outer hips can lead to all sorts of MSK issues, such as back and knee pain, due to the body not being able to stabilize the pelvis and spine, especially when load is applied.

Getting Started with Glute Training

Our 4 week glute workout plan, with printable PDF, includes exercise ideas and programming for a basic glute training plan at home.

Best Gluteus Minimus Exercises


The clamshell is a simple yet really effective exercise that targets the gluteus minimus.

To perform the clamshell exercise, lie on your side with your hips and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Keeping your feet together, and legs stacked on top of each other, raise your top knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Then, slowly lower your knee back down.

You can add a resistance band to increase the difficulty.

The clamshell is effective at targeting the gluteus minimus because it involves hip abduction, the primary function of this muscle. A common mistake to avoid is rotating the spine or pelvis during the movement. Instead, keep your core engaged and your body still to ensure you’re isolating the gluteus minimus and outer hips.

Lateral Band Walks (Side Steps)

Lateral band walks (also known as side steps) are another great exercise for the gluteus minimus.

To perform a lateral bank walk, place a resistance band around your ankles, thighs or feet, and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step to the side with one foot, then follow with the other foot, keeping tension in the band.

Lateral band walks target the gluteus minimus by requiring you to resist the band’s tension while moving your legs apart. A common mistake to avoid is letting your knees cave inwards, so try to actively push against the band to keep your knees aligned as you move.

The lower the band is on your body, the harder it is… so start by placing it around your thighs and build up to putting it around your feet (or opt for a thicker band).

Fire Hydrants

Fire hydrants are another popular exercise in glute workouts and injury rehabilitation.

To perform fire hydrants, start on all fours (quadruped position) with your knees stacked directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Keeping your knee bent, lift one leg out to the side, then lower it back down.

Fire hydrants target the gluteus minimus by requiring hip abduction in a different plane of motion. A common mistake to avoid is rotating the body or shifting your weight too much.

Mobility around the hip joints could be a limiting factor for some when attempting this movement path.

You can also add a resistance band to increase the difficulty.

Lying Hip Abduction

Lying hip abduction is perhaps the simplest of all these exercises, but again, incredibly effective at targeting the outer hips.

To perform a lying hip abduction, lie on your side with your legs straight and stacked on top of each other. Lift your top leg up towards the ceiling, then slowly lower it back down.

Don’t worry about how high you lift your leg, but instead, focus on very controlled movements.

To make things easier, you can also do this standing up, which means you don’t need to work against gravity.

Monster Walks

Monster walks can be seen as a variation of the lateral banded walk. Instead of moving from side to side, you move forwards and backwards.

To perform this exercise, place a resistance band around your ankles or thighs, and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward and out to the side with one foot, then follow with the other foot, keeping tension on the band.

Monster walks target the gluteus minimus by requiring you to resist the band’s tension while moving your legs apart.

Hip Abduction Machine

The hip abduction machine is a piece of gym equipment that is specifically designed to target the gluteus medius and minimus, by adding load to a hip abduction movement.

To use this machine, sit on the seat with your legs on the padded levers and your feet on the footrests. Push your legs apart against the resistance, then slowly bring them back together.

A common mistake to avoid is using too much weight as this can encourage poor technique. Start with a light weight and focus on using good form to ensure you’re engaging the gluteus minimus and that you have full control of the weight for the whole duration of the movement.

Side Plank Hip Dips

Side plank hip dips are a challenging exercise that target the gluteus minimus, along with other muscles in your core and lower body.

To perform side plank hip dips, start in a side plank position with your elbow stacked directly under your shoulder and your feet stacked on top of each other. Lower your hips towards the ground, then lift them back up to the starting position.

This exercise targets the gluteus minimus by requiring you to lift your body weight using your hip muscles. It also challenges your balance and core stability.

Holding a side plank also means this is a great exercise for strengthening the core, particularly the obliques.

Benefits of Gluteus Minimus Exercises

Improved Hip Stability

The gluteus minimus plays a defining role in stabilizing the hip joint. Strengthening this muscle can improve your balance and stability, making it easier to perform daily activities and reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

This is particularly noticeable for single leg exercises, such as single leg RDLs.

Posterior Chain Strength

The gluteus minimus is part of the posterior chain, a group of muscles that includes the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

Strengthening the gluteus minimus can contribute to overall posterior chain strength, which is important for power and speed in many sports.

Reduce Knee Pain

Weak gluteus minimus muscles can contribute to knee pain and injuries by causing the thighs to rotate inwards, putting extra stress on the knees.

Strengthening the gluteus minimus can help align the thighs and reduce knee stress.

Reduce Back Pain

The gluteus minimus can also play a role in back pain. When this muscle is weak, other muscles, like the lower back muscles, may have to work harder to compensate, leading to pain and strain.

Strengthening the gluteus minimus can help balance the workload among these muscles and reduce back pain.

Improved Athletic Performance

Strong gluteus minimus muscles can enhance your athletic performance in most sports, especially ones that involve lots of lateral movements, running, jumping or that need good stability.

Strengthening the gluteus minimus can improve your power, speed, agility, and endurance in these movements.

Better Posture

Strong gluteus minimus muscles can also contribute to better posture because they help maintain proper alignment of the hips and pelvis, which is essential for good posture.

Improved posture can not only enhance your appearance but also reduce the risk of pain and injuries related to poor posture.

Improved Hip Mobility

The gluteus minimus plays a key role in hip abduction and internal rotation, movements that are essential for many daily activities like walking, climbing stairs, and getting in and out of a car. Strengthening the gluteus minimus can enhance your mobility and make these activities easier.

The Importance of Hip Mobility

Without good hip mobility, you won’t feel the benefits of stronger glutes. Exercises like 90/90 Hip Stretch, World’s Greatest Stretch, Reclining Pigeon Pose and single leg hip rotations can help keep the hip joints moving efficiently to support normal movement paths from the hips.

Things to Consider

Muscular Balance

While it’s important to strengthen the gluteus minimus, it’s also important to maintain balance among all the muscles in your lower body. Overworking the gluteus minimus while neglecting other muscles can lead to muscular imbalances, which can increase the risk of injuries.

Make sure you’re also doing hip adduction exercises in equal measure as well, to ensure you can control movements in different directions and functions.


Proper technique is really important when performing any exercise.

Incorrect technique can reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and increase the risk of injuries.

From our experience, incorrect form often comes from trying to increase the weight/resistance too much. Take things slow and only increase the resistance if you can maintain good form.

Fitness Goals

Your fitness goals should guide your choice of gluteus minimus exercises.

If your goal is to improve athletic performance, you might focus on dynamic exercises like monster walks. If your goal is to reduce knee or back pain, you might focus on simpler exercises like clamshells or lying hip abduction.

Bottom Line

The gluteus minimus might be small, but its impact on your overall fitness and athletic performance is huge. From improving hip stability and posterior chain strength to reducing knee and back pain, strengthening this muscle can provide several benefits.

Exercises like clamshells, lateral band walks, fire hydrants, lying hip abduction, monster walks, hip abduction machine, and side plank hip dips can help you target this muscle effectively.

But, it’s important to maintain muscular balance, use proper technique, and choose exercises that align with your fitness goals.

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