You likely give your buttocks quite a lot of thought and attention, from wondering how they look in your favorite jeans to sitting on them all day at the office. The muscles in this area of the body, however, fulfill some pretty important roles. Strengthening your gluteus minimus -- a smaller muscle located underneath the gluteus medius on the side of your hips -- can help prevent overuse injuries in the hip and can help you balance and maintain proper alignment when you stand on one leg. If you’re more concerned about aesthetics, strengthening this muscle can also help shape and define your buttocks.
Perform abductor exercises from a kneeling position. One of the primary functions of the gluteus minimus is abduction, or moving the leg out to the side of the body. Kneel on your hands and knees. Pull your belly button in and up toward your spine to stabilize your torso and pelvis. Lift your right leg to the side of your body until your thigh is at hip level. Hold the position for up to 10 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Repeat 11 more times before switching legs. Perform two more sets on both legs. Gradually increase your number of repetitions until you can perform three sets of 15 repetitions with both legs.
Do the cable hip abduction exercise, if you have access to a gym. Stand sideways to the equipment and attach the cuff to your outside ankle so the cable passes in front of your body. Hold onto the bar for support and step slightly away from the equipment. Allow your outside leg to pass in front of your body. Then, move your leg out to the side. Repeat the movement at least seven more times before switching legs. As you gain strength, you can increase the amount of weight or your number of repetitions.
Work on the hip hitching exercise. This exercise emphasizes the gluteus minimus’s role in keeping the pelvis stable. Stand on a step. Bend your right leg to lift your foot slightly off the ground. Think of pulling your belly button in toward your spine to help stabilize your lower back and pelvis. Drop your right hip and leg down, while keeping your hips facing front as if you were walking up the stairs. Using the muscles on the side of your left hip, bring your right hip back up to its normal position. Touching the side of your left hip with your fingers can help you feel the muscles contract. Switch legs to work the gluteus minimus on your right hip. Begin with two sets of eight to 10 repetitions, and gradually increase the number of reps until you can perform three sets of 15 reps.