With the gluteus maximus being the strongest muscle in the body, the smaller gluteus minimus is often overlooked. The gluteus minimus attached to your pelvis and then inserts at the top of your upper leg bone. When it contracts, the muscle performs hip abduction by pulling your leg away from your centerline and opening up your legs. It’s even more heavily involved when your hip is internally rotated.
Side Lying Hip Abduction
Side lying hip abduction is amongst the most effective exercises for targeting your gluteus minimus and all you need is a mat. The exercise utilizes your own body weight as resistance. Lie on your side with your legs stacked atop each other and your head resting on your hand. While keeping your legs straight, slowly lift up your top leg. This movement hits both your gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus. However, you can put more emphasis on the gluteus minimus by internally rotating your top hip, which is done by twisting your leg forward so that your toe is pointed slightly towards the floor. Perform the exercise with your leg held in this internally rotated position and you’ll feel your gluteus minimus screaming quickly.
Machine Hip Abduction
Hip abduction can also be completed while seated upright in a hip abduction machine that’s available in most gyms. With your knees set against the thigh pads, push against the pads to spread your legs open against the resistance. Control your legs back together. The machine hip abduction exercise targets all of your hip abductors, including your gluteus minimus.
Inverted flyers will not only hit your gluteus minimus, but it will provide a balance challenge and thus require contribution from your surrounding stabilizing muscles. According to the American Council on Exercise, while the gluteus minimus is amongst the primary muscles recruited, inverted flyers also hit your gluteus maximus and hamstrings. Stand on one leg with the other knee bent and foot lifted up behind you. Keep the leg you’re standing on straight as you tilt forward at the waist, driving your free leg backwards, and then rise back up to a standing position.
Crossover lunges take the traditional lunge exercise, which is predominately a gluteus maximus exercise, and tweaks it so that the gluteus minimus because more involved. From a standing position, cross one leg over the other and set your foot on the floor. Push your hips back and bend your knees so that you lower into a lunge. As you come up out of the lunge, bring your crossed leg back to where it started. On the next repetition, cross over with your opposite foot. If you want to kick up the intensity a notch, hold a pair of dumbbells.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.