The glute med muscle group is one of the most important areas to strengthen to protect our knees, hips, and back. It is also one of the most commonly overlooked and neglected in traditional strength programs. In this article we’ll provide the best glute med exercises and progressions to help you build the strength in this muscle group and build confidence in your body’s ability to maintain your lifestyle.
An Overview: The Glute Med Muscle
The glute med muscle group is one of the three muscles of the glute complex (Max, Med, and Min) and is responsible for hip abduction (moving our leg out to the side). More importantly, it’s the muscle responsible for supporting our hips when standing in the single leg position.
Weakness in our glute med causes our knees to cave in and our hips to drop while standing in a single leg position. Overtime this leads to knee, hip, and back problems and why it’s so important we target this muscle group in any plan to solve joint pain.
Exercises For Glute Med Strength
Starting with our most beginner exercises, the following twelve progression will help you safely and effectively strengthen your glute med muscle group.
Starting on the floor with the clamshell exercise is the best way to begin strengthening our glute med with minimal impact on our back, knees, and other joints. Be sure to keep movement in the hips and avoid twisting at the lower back.
Side Lying Hip Series
Another floor exercise, our side lying hip series is a group of 4 movements that target the glute med muscle group. This one will burn (in a good way)! Be sure to keep hip stacks and movements controlled throughout.
Side Plank Hip Thrusts
While traditionally a lateral core exercise, the side plank hip thrust is also a great exercise to engage our glute med (of the downside leg). Keep body in a straight line and practice hinging at the hips.
Side Plank Leg Lifts
A more advanced side plank exercise further challenges the our glute med muscles. This is a difficult exercise so only perform if you have adequate core strength and not experiencing any back pain with the movement.
The Wall Press is one of our favorite standing glute med activation exercises. This can be introduced early on as it is relatively safe for most joints. Pressing our knee against engages the glute med of our stance leg.
Add a balance and coordination challenge to your standing glute med exercises with Toe Taps. This is a great exercise to introduce some balance work and build the strength required to support yourself in the standing position.
A staple in the rehabilitation world. The monster walk is a more functional way to strengthen your glute med. Be sure to press your knees as you perform the movement to engage the glute med and avoid letting your knees ‘cave in’.
Monster Walk Squats
Adding a squat further engages the glute med but also encorporates your hamstrings and glute max muscle groups. It also gives you practive with out squat patterning. Keep those knees pressed out!
The Running Man
The running man is a more advanced balance and coordination exercise. Avoid trying to move too fast through this movement. The more slow and controlled you keep this movement the better balance you’ll have and the more effective it will be at strengthening the glute med.
The Bowler Lunge
The Bowler Lunge is a great functional exercise to build glute med strength and gain control standing on a single leg. Try to maintain balance and control throughout.
Standing Hip Abduction
The standing hip abduction is an advanced balanced and glute med strengthening exercise. Keep a loose knee and neutral spine to protect your joints while you perform this exercise.
Hip airplanes are an advanced hip mobility, balance, and glute med strength exercise. Keep the spine in a neutral position and back leg engaged to get the most out of this exercise.