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Top 15 Gluteus Minimus Activation Exercises

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The Gluteus minimus is a small buttock muscle that lies at the hip’s outer portion (1). Minimus is the smallest of the three gluteal muscles and has functions similar to the glute medius. 

A great way to activate the muscle is by performing a lateral leg raise slowly and with good body control. The gluteus minimus promotes hip abduction (such as during lateral leg raises), internal thigh rotation, stability at the hip, and pelvic alignment.

Developing the glute minimus might not seem all that important, but the muscle plays a massive role in hip stability, overall athleticism, and the appearance of the buttocks region. 

Our guide will go over 15 of the best gluteus minimus exercises you can do with dumbbells, bands, gym machines, or no equipment.

Try the Hevy app workout tracker, where you can create custom exercises and monitor how you are progressing with your glute exercises.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own gluteus minimus workout with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

Gluteus Minimus Exercises (No Equipment Required)

1. Side Plank With Hip Dip

The side plank with hip dip is one of the best gluteus medius and minimus exercises you can do without equipment. Unlike some of the activities on our list, the side plank is beginner-friendly and works well for people new to glute training.

Performing the exercise is similar to a side plank, with the primary difference being that you must lower your hips to the floor multiple times. Doing so is good for emphasizing the glute minimus, forcing the muscle to control you on the way down and contract as you straighten your body.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Lie on your side with your legs stacked, elbow bent, and forearm flat on the floor.
  2. Engage your abs, take a breath, and assume the starting side plank position using your glutes.
  3. Take another breath and dip your hips several inches while keeping your body rigid.
  4. Lift your hips to the starting position by engaging your glute minimus.
  5. Repeat several times, rotate 180 degrees, and perform the same number of reps.

2. Side Lying Clamshell

Similar to the side plank position, a side-lying clamshell is a beginner-friendly gluteus minimus exercise you can do without equipment. You can also add a resistance band to improve muscle activation and make the exercise more challenging.

The objective is to lie on your side with your knees bent and open and close your legs, resembling a clamshell.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Place an exercise mat on the floor and lie on your left side with your knees bent, legs in line, and feet stacked.
  2. Take a breath and lift your top leg while keeping your feet glued together.
  3. Raise your knee slowly and go as high as possible, engaging your gluteus minimus at the top.
  4. Lower your knee to the starting position and exhale.
  5. Do as many repetitions as possible, lie on your other side, and repeat.

Related article: ​​Free Workout Plans for Every Fitness Level

3. Fire Hydrants

Fire hydrants are a slightly more advanced single-leg exercise you can do with no equipment or a resistance band. The objective is to get down on all fours and raise your legs laterally while keeping your knees bent.

The fire hydrant resembles a dog lifting its leg to pee, hence the name. 

How to do it (step-by-step):

man fire hydrants angled view
  1. Get down on all fours. Have your shoulders, elbows, and wrists in vertical alignment, and position your knees underneath your hips.
  2. Engage your abs to put your spine in a neutral position.
  3. Take a breath and transfer more weight to one knee by tilting slightly.
  4. Raise your opposite knee to the side by engaging your hip abductor muscles.
  5. Lift your leg as high as possible in one fluid motion without using momentum.
  6. Slowly lower your knee to the starting position as you exhale and repeat.
  7. Once finished, tilt to the opposite side slightly and perform the same number of reps.

4. Walking Lunge

The walking lunge is a classic single-leg exercise that strengthens your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes (2). Lunging forward promotes stability at the foot, knee, and hip, leading to better balance in other lower body exercises.

Unlike the previous movements, walking lunges don’t emphasize the glute minimus, but the activity develops all gluteal muscles: maximus, medius, and minimus (2).

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Assume the starting position by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing slightly out. 
  2. Bring your shoulders back, direct your gaze a few feet forward, engage your midsection, and take a breath. You can place your hands to the sides of your hips for balance.
  3. Lift your right foot off the floor and lunge forward, placing it flat on the ground.
  4. Immediately sink into a lunge and descend until your left knee taps the floor or gets within an inch of it.
  5. Engage your front quadricep and extend your body as you exhale.
  6. Take another breath, bring your left foot in front of the right, and lunge again, moving in a straight line.
  7. Keep alternating between left and right, training through a full range of motion as you move forward.

5. Side Lying Hip Abduction

The side lying hip abduction is a movement similar to clamshells and fire hydrants because you’re raising your legs to train the gluteus minimus. 

One notable difference is that you’re performing the hip abduction with straight legs, which makes each repetition more challenging and beneficial. You can also execute the lying hip abduction with a resistance band to make it even more difficult.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Assume the starting position by lying on your side with your legs aligned and feet stacked.
  2. Place a mini band around your ankles (optional).
  3. Ensure proper pelvic alignment by engaging your abs.
  4. Inhale and raise your top leg straight up in one fluid motion. Lift the leg as high as possible, but don’t push the range of motion too much if it causes hip pain.
  5. Hold the top position for a moment and slowly lower the leg to the starting position as you exhale.
  6. Take another breath and lift your leg, using the same range of motion.
  7. Once finished, lie on your other side and lift your opposite leg using your glutes. Perform the same number of reps.

Gluteus Minimus Exercises With Dumbbells And Bands

6. Curtsy Lunges

Curtsy lunges are one of the best single-leg exercises for gluteus medius and minimus. The movement is beneficial because it requires greater stability, and your gluteus medius, minimus, and maximus work together to keep you stable. 

Unlike a traditional lunge, the curtsy variation has you extend your legs back and behind your body. Doing so makes the movement more challenging and allows it to emphasize the gluteal muscles better.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Grab a pair of light dumbbells and have your arms to your sides.
  2. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and shoulders back.
  3. Engage your midsection and take a breath.
  4. Extend your right leg back and in, drawing a semicircle with your right foot.
  5. Move your leg until it crosses your left foot and plant it on the floor, keeping the toes of your front foot pointing forward.
  6. Sink into a lunge and descend as far as you can––ideally, to the point where your back knee taps the floor lightly.
  7. Slowly return to the starting position as you extend the right leg forward and exhale.
  8. Take another breath and extend your opposite leg in the same way.
  9. Alternate from left to right until you complete the set.

Related article: The Top Dumbbell Leg Workouts to Attain Powerful Legs

7. Dumbbell Bulgarians Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a popular single-leg exercise that allows you to train one leg at a time, develop your quadriceps, and work your gluteal muscles (3). 

Unlike some of the exercises on our list, the split squat isn’t designed to isolate the gluteus minimus. The movement trains the entire glute musculature. 

Aside from holding dumbbells to create resistance, you can use a resistance band. You must grab the band evenly and step over it to create tension. Doing so would make the top of each repetition more challenging because the band’s resistance increases as it lengthens.

How to do it (step-by-step):

man bulgarian split squat dumbbell
  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells and face away from a gym bench, plyo box, or chair.
  2. Extend one leg back and place your foot over the elevated object. Keep your front foot flat on the floor.
  3. Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and take a breath.
  4. Sink into a squat by bending your front leg. Descend until your front thigh is almost parallel to the floor.
  5. Hold the bottom position for a moment and push through your front heel to extend your leg. Exhale near the top.
  6. Take another breath and repeat.
  7. Once finished training one leg, extend it back, bring the opposite leg forward, and do the same number of reps.

Related Article: Develop Your Glute Shelf: 2 Upper Glute Workouts

8. Single-Leg Dumbbell Glute Bridges

The single-leg glute bridge is a good exercise for developing the gluteus medius and minimus (4). Working one leg at a time forces your core musculature to work extra hard in promoting hip stability.

You must also extend your hips repeatedly, forcing the gluteus maximus to engage (5). The muscle is also crucial for maintaining proper pelvic alignment and keeping your spine healthy.

The glute bridge isn’t among the best gluteus minimus exercises, but it trains the entire region and allows you to overload your posterior chain with greater resistance.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Lay an exercise mat on the floor.
  2. Place a dumbbell next to the mat and lie down.
  3. Lift the dumbbell and position it over the crease of your hips, holding it with both hands for extra security.
  4. Bring your shoulders back and bend your knees, placing both feet flat on the floor.
  5. Engage your midsection and lift your left leg in the air. Keep your right foot planted on the floor.
  6. Take a breath and push through your right foot to elevate your hips.
  7. Move up until your shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
  8. Hold the top position for a moment and lower your buttocks to the floor as you exhale.
  9. Take another breath and repeat.
  10. Once finished, plant your left foot and straighten your right leg. Perform the same number of reps.

9. Lateral Walks (Banded)

Lateral walks are one of the most overlooked exercises for gluteus minimus. You primarily work the gluteus medius and minimus, but the glute maximus also assists somewhat.

The objective is to wrap a resistance band around your lower thighs, shins, or ankles and walk sideways. Doing so is fantastic for practicing hip abduction and promoting hip stability.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Wrap a looped or mini resistance band around your lower thighs, shins, or ankles. We recommend starting with a band over your thighs to get used to the movement.
  2. Have your feet in a comfortable stance, lean forward slightly and squeeze your abs. You can raise your arms in front of your body for balance.
  3. Lift your right foot and bring it to the right in a straight line. Keep your left leg straight.
  4. Plant your foot on the floor and bring your left leg to the right.
  5. Keep taking lateral steps to the right, then change the direction and take the same number of steps to the left.
  6. Walk slowly, maintain proper form, and keep your midsection engaged.

10. Monster Walk

Despite its slightly unusual name, the monster walk is one of the best gluteus minimus exercises. The movement depends on hip abduction and trains your gluteus medius and maximus.

Similar to lateral walks, the objective is to wrap a resistance band over your legs and take steps. A notable difference is that you’re walking forward and back instead of left and right. Doing so is suitable for warming up your hip muscles before training your lower body.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Wrap a looped or mini resistance band around your thighs, shins, or ankles.
  2. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart (or slightly more) and toes pointing slightly out.
  3. Bend your knees and hip slightly to get into the athletic stance.
  4. Engage your midsection and take a breath.
  5. Extend your left leg forward and plant the foot firmly on the floor.
  6. Bring your right leg forward and continue taking small and controlled steps forward.
  7. Once finished, walk backward, breathing steadily and keeping your midsection engaged.

Gluteus Minimus Exercises At The Gym

11. Hip Abduction Machine

Machine hip abduction is similar to movements like side planks, lateral walks, fire hydrants, and lying hip abduction. 

A notable difference is that performing the movement pattern on a machine allows you to focus better on training the gluteus minimus muscle. 

The hip abduction machine controls your range of motion and provides stability, allowing you to focus all your attention on activating the glute muscles.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Select the appropriate load on the machine and sit. Your legs should be together, and the pads should be on the outside of your knees.
  2. Sit back, retract your shoulder blades, and take a breath.
  3. Bring your legs out (hip abduction) in a smooth and controlled manner.
  4. Pause for a moment and slowly bring your legs together as you exhale.
  5. Keep repeating until your lower body gets tired.

12. Wide Stance Barbell Hip Thrust

The broad stance barbell hip thrust is among the best gluteus minimus exercises. 

Like glute bridges, the hip thrust depends on hip extension, which helps train the gluteus maximus (6). 

The gluteus medius and minimus also work, primarily to assist with keeping your hips stable. You can also wrap a mini resistance band over your thighs to promote glute activation and keep your knees out.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Load a barbell and place it perpendicular to a gym bench.
  2. Sit down and position your upper back on the bench. The barbell should be directly over your hips.
  3. Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor. Have your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointing slightly out.
  4. Grab the barbell evenly, placing your hands just outside your hips.
  5. With the bar resting against your hips, engage your abs, and take a breath.
  6. Extend your hips by pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes. 
  7. Lift the barbell until your shoulders, hips, and knees are aligned.
  8. Hold the top position for a moment and slowly lower your buttocks to the floor as you exhale.
  9. Take another breath and repeat.

Related article: Best Leg Workouts and Exercises for a Strong Lower Body

13. Wide Stance Cable Pull-Through

Like hip thrusts, the wide stance cable pull-through is an excellent exercise for the glute muscles: gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. The gluteus minimus isn’t as active as on hip abduction exercises, but it engages to promote stability and assist the glute maximus. 

Unlike many of the exercises on our list, the cable pull-through is also beneficial for the upper body: back, shoulders, arms, and midsection.

People without access to a cable machine can anchor a resistance band and use it to perform the exercise.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Select the appropriate load on a cable machine.
  2. Position the pulley in the lowest position and attach a rope.
  3. Face away from the cable machine, step over the rope, bend down and grab it.
  4. Assume the starting position by holding the rope between your legs, taking a couple of steps forward to unrack the weight from its stack.
  5. Spread your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
  6. Bring your shoulders back, engage your abs, and direct your gaze forward.
  7. Take a breath and hinge at the hip, leaning your torso forward while keeping your back neutral.
  8. Move down until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. You should feel some tension in your lower body.
  9. Return to the standing position by driving your hips forward. Exhale.
  10. Take another breath and repeat.

14. Deficit Sumo Deadlift

Deficit sumo deadlifts are not a common movement, but they are one of the best gluteus minimus exercises to increase size and gain strength. Aside from developing the hip abductor muscles (gluteus minimus and medius), sumo deadlifts train the gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, and your entire upper body (7).

The gluteus medius is also more active due to the slightly more extended range of motion and broader stance. Its primary functions are to assist with hip flexion and keep your knees out.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Load a barbell and position a two-inch high platform underneath. The weight plates should rest on the floor. 
  2. Step over the platform and make sure it is wide enough for you to assume the sumo stance.
  3. Have your shins an inch or two from the bar with toes pointing out.
  4. Lean forward and grab the bar with an even overhand grip.
  5. Bend your knees and set your hips back to get into the starting position. Doing so will tense your body and draw it to the barbell.
  6. Take a breath and pull the barbell straight up, locking out your knees at the top.
  7. Lower the barbell in the same straight line and exhale near the bottom.
  8. Inhale again and repeat.

Related: Barbell Back Workouts for a Strong and Muscular Back

15. Standing Cable Hip Abduction

There are no gluteus minimus isolation exercises, but the standing cable hip abduction comes close. Cable hip abductions are one of the best exercises for training all glute muscles: maximus, medius, and minimus. 

The movement is effective because it allows you to focus on hip abduction and emphasize the glutes without involving other muscles.

How to do it (step-by-step):

  1. Select a light load on a cable machine and place the pulley in the lowest position.
  2. Attach an ankle cuff to the pulley, position your right side to the machine, and wrap the cuff around your left ankle.
  3. Take a lateral step away from the machine but hold it with your right hand for balance. Keep your right knee straight and your foot flat on the floor.
  4. Engage your abs and take a breath.
  5. Lift your left leg laterally as high as possible in one fluid motion.
  6. Hold the position for a moment and release.
  7. Once finished, rotate 180 degrees, wrap the cuff to your right ankle, and perform the same number of reps.

Gluteus Minimus Exercise Routine

Now that we’ve gone over the best gluteus minimus exercises let’s review two simple glute workouts for women. Men can also use the two routines.

Using a workout tracking app to monitor your progress can be helpful to keep you motivated and on track.

Hevy – Workout Tracker

Create your own gluteus minimus workout with Hevy, and track your progress – for free

Glute Minimus Home Routine

The following is a home glute workout you can do with little to no equipment:

  • Side Plank With Hip Dip – 3 sets of 5 to 10 reps (per side)
  • Fire Hydrants – 3 sets of 5 to 15 reps (per leg)
  • Walking Lunge – 2-3 sets of 16 to 30 strides
  • Side Lying Clamshell – 2-3 sets of 15 to 30 reps (per side)

You can do the routine two to three times per week. Always have a day of recovery in between.

Glute Minimus Gym Routine

The following gluteus minimus exercises require some gym equipment to perform. Here is the routine:

  • Wide Stance Barbell Hip Thrust – 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps
  • Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps (per leg)
  • Standing Cable Hip Abduction – 2-3 sets of 15 to 20 reps (per leg)
  • Hip Abduction (Machine) – 2-3 sets of 15 to 20 reps

The gym routine is more challenging than the home one, and we recommend doing it once or twice per week, having at least two days of recovery in between.

Gluteus Minimus Commonly Asked Questions

1. How do I activate my gluteus minimus?

The best way to learn how to engage your gluteus minimus is to train the hip abductor muscles frequently. Two to three weekly sessions will go a long way in promoting glute activation and building round and robust buttocks.

2. What causes weak gluteus minimus?

The biggest reason for weak gluteus minimus is a sedentary lifestyle. Similarly, people who train frequently but don’t do any gluteus minimus exercises are at risk of leaving the muscle weak and undeveloped. Pick from our list of 15 activities and include some of them in your weekly training.

Some training approaches to consider:

3. Do hip thrusts work the gluteus minimus?

Normal stance hip thrusts primarily train the gluteus maximus but having your feet wider apart is beneficial for including the glute minimus and medius (6).

Final Words

The gluteus minimus is a relatively unknown muscle that doesn’t get much attention from traditional gym training. But, despite being small and seemingly insignificant, the muscle is necessary for hip stability, pelvic alignment, and longevity. 

Your gluteus medius is crucial for many activities, including the side plank, hip thrust, lunge, and deadlift. The best part is that you can train the muscle at home with little to no equipment.

Resistance bands are a valuable alternative to cables and free weights, and bodyweight movements like clamshells target the area.

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