Fight "Dead Butt Syndrome" With These 9 Gluteus Medius Exercises

Fight "Dead Butt Syndrome" With These 9 Gluteus Medius Exercises

Unlike the highly celebrated gluteus maximus that forms most of your butt’s shape, the gluteus medius rarely gets the spotlight. In fact, most people don’t give a second thought to this lesser-known butt muscle until it starts mirroring their neglect. But if you’ve ever experienced “gluteal amnesia” (aka “dead butt syndrome“), you understand the quiet yet powerful wrath of an ignored gluteus medius.

“The problem for most people isn’t necessarily a weak gluteus medius, but rather an inactive one,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. Most of us spend our days sitting hunched over a keyboard, which places the hip flexors in a perpetually shortened state. Thanks to a phenomenon called “reciprocal inhibition,” the muscles on the other side of the joint — in this case, the glutes, including the gluteus medius — remain stretched or relaxed. “As a result, your butt essentially shuts off,” says Thieme.

How much damage can an offline gluteus medius do? A lot, considering the gluteus medius not only extends, abducts, and rotates the hips, but also stabilizes the pelvis. Without a properly functioning gluteus medius, other areas of the body have to pick up the slack, resulting in pain and dysfunction. Adrian Miranda, P.T., D.P.T., O.C.S., physical therapist at Windsor Physical Therapy in Brooklyn, New York, says that athletic performance issues often pop up first.

Take, for example, a competitive swimmer. “Your time can depend on how fast you get off the blocks. If you have weak gluteus medius muscles, your knees can collapse in, and that can cost you seconds,” Miranda says. Over time, that movement compensation takes a toll on the knees and lower back, causing pain. “Loss of seconds now turns into loss of practice time, competition, and eventually daily activities like walking,” he says.

To help prevent this chain of events, Miranda recommends incorporating gluteus medius exercises into your fitness routine. “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” he says. “Exercise often ‘reminds’ our brains to send neural signals to certain areas of the body. Like any other skill, you need to practice movements to keep the brain reminded.”

 

9 Gluteus Medius Exercises for Strength and Shape

Designed to wake up your lazy butt, these strengthening moves include a mix of Miranda’s and Thieme’s favorite weighted and unweighted glute med exercises. Aim to target your gluteus medius muscles at least two to three times a week.

1. Glute Bridge

Glute Bridge Exercise – Gluteus Medius Exercises

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms at your sides. This is the starting position
  • Engaging your core, squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  • Pause, and then slowly return to the starting position.

 

2. Dumbbell Squat

Gluteus Medius Exercises - Dumbbell Squat

  • Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing each other. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your chest up, back straight, and core engaged, push your hips back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
  • Squeeze your glutes as you push through your heels and return to the starting position.

 

3. Clamshell

Gluteus Medius Exercises - Clamshell

  • Lie on your left side with your legs stacked and your hips and knees bent 45 degrees.
  • Rest your head on your left arm, and place your right palm on the floor in front of your chest. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your heels together, your core engaged, and left knee on the ground, raise your right knee.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position. Do equal reps on both sides.

Make it harder: Loop a resistance band around your legs, just above your knees, before assuming the starting position.

 

4. Lateral Band Walk

Gluteus Medius Exercises - Lateral Band Walk

  • Loop a small resistance band around both legs just above your knees. Stand in a quarter squat with your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart, creating tension on the band. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your knees bent and core engaged, step to the right with your right foot. Follow with your left foot, maintaining tension on the band.
  • Take one more step to the right, and then two steps left to return to the starting position.

 

5. Dumbbell Deadlift

dumbbell deadlift man

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing back. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your back flat and core engaged, push your hips back and lower the dumbbells to mid-shin level, keeping the weights close to your body.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position, thrusting your hips forward as you raise your torso.

 

6. Dumbbell Step-Up

dumbbell step up gluteus medius exercises

  • Stand facing a bench or box that’s around knee height, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides, palms in.
  • Place your left foot on the middle of the bench so that your hip, knee, and ankle are all bent 90 degrees. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your chest up and core engaged, push your body up with your left leg until it’s straight (don’t let your right foot touch the bench — keep it elevated behind you).
  • Pause, and then lower your body back to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.

 

7. Side Plank Leg Lift

single leg side plank gluteus medius exercises

  • Lie on your left side with your legs stacked, propping yourself up on your left forearm.
  • Keeping your core engaged, simultaneously raise your hips and lift your right leg.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.

 

8. Opposite arm-leg single-leg straight-leg deadlift

single arm single leg Romanian deadlift man proprioception

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in your left hand in front of your left thigh, palm facing back.
  • Shift your weight to your right leg, and lift your left foot a few inches off of the floor behind you. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your back flat and core engaged, push your hips back and lower the weight until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor, raising your left leg behind you.
  • Pause, and then return to the starting position.

 

9. Lateral Step-Ups

dumbbell lateral step up gluteus medius exercises

  • Stand with your right side facing a bench or box that’s about knee height, holding a pair of dumbbells at arms’ length by your sides, palms facing in.
  • Place your right foot on the middle of the bench. This is the starting position.
  • Keeping your chest up and core engaged, push your body up with your right leg until it’s straight (don’t let your left foot touch the bench).
  • Pause, and then lower your body back to the starting position. Perform equal reps on both sides.

 

What Is the Gluteus Medius?

Smaller than the gluteus maximus, which gives your butt most of its shape, the gluteus medius is located on the upper, outer surface of the pelvis. The gluteus medius originates at the hip and inserts at the top of the femur (thigh bone).

Gluteus medius function

“The primary jobs of the gluteus medius are to extend, abduct, and internally rotate the hips. It’s also important for stabilizing the pelvis,” explains Thieme. If you’re walking, running, side lunging, or even just standing on one leg, the gluteus medius is working to keep your hips and pelvis stable.

Jenessa Connor

About

Jenessa Connor has written for Men’s Journal, Shape, Runner’s World, Oxygen and other health and fitness publications. When it comes to exercise, she’s a bit of a dabbler, but she always comes back to running, CrossFit and yoga. Follow her on Instagram at @jenessaconnor.

shares