The glute minimus is often trained during squats, deadlifts, lunges, and glute specific work, however the gluteus minimus can specifically be targeted with hip abduction work and variations.
Strong glute minimus muscles help assist in glute and hip extension strength, knee stability, and can improve overall athletic performance. In addition to doing most lower body training like squats and lunges, various banded exercises like lateral steps and monster walks can be done to further isolate the glute minimus.
The 14 best glute minimus exercises are:
- Deficit Dumbbell Sumo Deadlift
- Dumbbell Walking Lunge
- Single Leg Dumbbell Hip Thrust
- Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat
- Standing Cable Hip Abduction
- Wide Stance Cable Pull Through
- Lateral Band Walk
- Monster Walk
- Side Lying Banded Hip Abduction
- Wide Stance Banded Hip Thrust
- Seated/Standing Hip Abduction Machine
- Side Lying Clam Shell
- Fire Hydrants
- Side Plank with Hip Dip
In this article, we will discuss in detail how you can train the glute minimus more effectively. Additionally, you will find 14 glute minimus exercises you can incorporate into any program to further improve your glute development, performance, and injury resilience.
How Do You Activate Your Glute Minimus?
When looking to activate the gluteus minimus, or any muscle for that matter, you can perform movements with controlled speed and focus on feeling the muscle contract and stretch under load.
Ideally, you can have that amount of focus with any exercise on this list, however some people struggle to do this with heavier loads and/or more compound movements, making cables, bands, and isolation exercises helpful.
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Glute Minimus Exercises With Dumbbells
1. Deficit Dumbbell Sumo Squat
The deficit dumbbell sumo squat is a deadlift variation that has the lifter take a wider stance while also standing on a platform to increase the range of motion of the movement.
Taking a wider stance allows for the leg to be externally rotated at the hip, while the deficit allows for deeper angles of hip flexion. Together, these two variables can be a potent glute building exercise, and target the glute minimus.
How To Do It
- Grab a pair of dumbbells, or grab a large dumbbell (one), and stand on a platform to create a deficit (2-4’)
- With the weight between the legs, have the feet turned out and in a wider than normal stance
- With the wide stance, sit down as low as you can, keeping the weight in your heels and staying as upright as possible
- The lower you go, the more glutes you will target
- Pause at the bottom of the movement, then stand upwards
- You can do pulse reps as well to keep tension on the glutes and not stand up all the way
Lower yourself slowly as you sit down, and try to focus on using your glutes to stand up rather than the lower back.
Related Article: 11 Knee Friendly Glute Exercises (+ Form Tips For Safe Knees)
2. Dumbbell Walking Lunge
The dumbbell walking lunge is a great glute focused exercise that trains all parts of the glute, including the glute minimus.
While it may not be a 100% glute minimus focused movement (it trains all of the glute), it will allow you to train the entire glute effectively, making your glute focused workout much more effective and efficient.
How To Do It
- Grab a pair of dumbbells, and have one in each hand
- Stand tall and perform a walking lunge, allowing the knee to touch the floor softly
- Stand up and keep moving forward
- Repeat for reps, and be sure to alway control the lowering aspect of the lunge
By taking longer steps, or even slightly stepping outwards on a slight diagonal in the lunge, you can allow for deeper range of motion and hip flexion, which can increase glute engagement.
3. Single Leg Dumbbell Hip Thrust
The single leg hip thrust is a unilateral exercise that targets the glutes as a whole. This is a great glute minimus exercise as well since it forces the glute minimus to stabilize the pelvis during this challenging unilateral hip thrust.
Like the double leg hip thrust, the single leg dumbbell hip thrust is often performed with the back on a bench to increase the range of motion and force deeper ranges of hip flexion and extension.
How To Do It
- Start by placing your upper back on a bench
- With you feet together in front of you, and knees bent at 90 degrees, place a dumbbell on the hips
- Shift all of your weight onto one leg, and pick up the other leg or hold it out in front of you (make it non weight bearing)
- Lift the hips, making sure to use the glutes rather than extending the lower back
- Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the hips and repeat for reps
The key to this exercise is to accumulate a ton of fatigue quickly, often with moderate to lighter loads and higher reps. Try to keep your rest period short, like 15-30 seconds max, and keep doing reps until your glutes burn.
Related Article: Squats vs Hip Thrusts: Which Is Better For Growing Your Glutes?
4. Dumbbell Bulgarians Split Squat
The dumbbell Bulgarian split squat is a unilateral leg exercise that targets the glutes and quadriceps. While this exercise is not entirely targeted to just the glute minimus, the Bulgarian split squat is an excellent exercise to build glute strength and size.
To increase the glute engagement in this exercise, perform the Bulgarian split squat with the front foot elevated to increase the range of motion of the movement and increase hip flexion.
How To Do It
- Start by holding dumbbells, one in each hand, and place one of your legs on a bench behind you
- Your lead foot should be planted roughly 2-3 feet in front of the bench
- With you back knee bent, allow the front leg to bend so that your back knee touches the ground
- Stand up, keeping all of the wight shifted towards the lead leg, and repeat
Make sure you are not placing too much weight on the back leg. Ideally, you will have little weight bearing on the back leg to increase the demands placed on the lead leg and glute muscles.
Glute Minimus Exercises With Cables
Below are two exercises that can be done to especially target the glute minimus with cables. These can be done as glute engagement exercises or done within a program that also includes some of the other movements on this list (split squats, deficit sumo squats, lunges, etc).
5. Standing Cable Hip Abduction
The standing cable hip abduction is an isolation exercise that only targets the glute minimus (rather than the glutes as a whole).
This movement does not require you to lift a ton of weight, and is best done with slow eccentrics and controlled speeds.
How To Do It
- Place a ankle strap attachment to the end of the cable clip, with your outside leg in the loop
- Step out away from the cable post by a foot or two, making sure to still have your inside arm holding onto the post for balance purposes
- With your outside leg in the loop, lift it outwards, without rotating your body
- Your toes should stay pointed in the direction you are facing, or slightly turn the outwards
- Lift your leg as high as you can, making sure to keep the knee straight and fully extended
- Pause at the top of the movement, and contract the glute
- Slowly lower the leg, and repeat for reps
This is a great exercise to use lighter loads and focus on finite glute control and muscle contractions. Try not to use too much momentum, but rather focus on lifting the legs with the glute minimus only.
6. Wide Stance Cable Pull Through
The wide stance pull cable pull through is a hip hinge exercise that isolates the gluteus maximus, glute minimus, and hamstrings. This exercise is also a potent glute and hamstring development movement for all levels.
You can isolate the glute minimus better by taking a slightly wider stance, and turn the toes outwards to create external rotation at the hips.
How To Do It
- Stand in front of a cable system, with the cable set at the lowest position
- Grab a rope attachment (or other handle attachment), and have the cable run through the legs as you hold the rope in in front of the body at the hips (arms straight, facing away from the cable stack)
- Step out away from the machine so that you have tension on the cables, and perform a hinging motion, similar to that of a Romanian deadlift
- The more you can keep your back flat, and knees not bent, the more hamstring and glute you will get in the movement
Focus on the top half of the movement. If you are looking to get a great hamstring workout, by all means go the full depth, however by restricting the movement to the top half or so, you can really emphasize glute engagement and hip extension.
Gluteus Minimus Exercises With Bands
Below are three exercises that can be done with bands to target the glute minimus, glutes, and hips. Some of these exercises can also be paired with other exercises in this list, such as adding a mini band to dumbbell hip thrusts, for example.
Related Article: 7 Resistance Band Exercises For Legs
7. Lateral Banded Walk
The lateral band walk is a glute minimus specific exercise that is dynamic, making it a great glute warm up exercise to add into training programs.
This can be done with the band around the feet, ankles, or even low shins.
How To Do It
- Wear a mini band or hip circle around the ankles
- Stand tall, and keep the knees straight at all times
- You can do these in a more athletic position where you are crouched down into the athletic stance, however keeping your knees locked and standing tall will isolate the glute minimus more
- Step laterally with your outside foot a few inches, then step the the leg a few inches, closing your stance back up to hip width
- Repeat this for reps, then walk back, leading with the other leg first for the same number of reps
Think about small steps, rather than large ones, and take your time. Don’t speed through this exercise.
8. Monster Walk
The monster walk is similar to the lateral banded walk, however in this exercise you are walking forwards or backwards in an athletic position, with a band around your hips, knees, or shins.
This is a good dynamic exercise to warm up the hips, especially the glute minimus and hip flexors.
How To Do It
- Place a hip circle or miniband around the high thighs, knees, or shins
- Face forward, with your feet slightly wider than hip width
- Bend the knees and hips slightly, getting into an athletic stance
- Walk forwards slowly, taking steps as if you were creeping forward, making sure to keep the feet at least hip width apart to maintain tension on the bands
- Continue to walk forward for steps
- You can also include walking backwards as well
This is similar to the banded lateral walks, however by crouching down you can target the muscles of the hips and knees as a whole, rather than just the glute minimus.
9. Side Lying Banded Hip Abduction
This can be done by lying on your side with a mini band around the ankles, and is very similar to the standing cable hip abduction. The key here is to lie on your side, and keep the knees straight to increase the difficulty of this movement.
Be sure to perform this with slow and controlled movements, and to hold the leg at the top of the movement to get a good contraction on the glute minimus.
How To Do It
- Start by lying on your side on the floor
- Place a mini band around your ankles, and straighten your knees
- Lift the top leg against the resistance of the mini band, making sure your knees do not bend
- At the top of the movement, pause, and contract the side of the glute (glute minimus)
- Slowly lower the leg, making sure to keep tension on the bands, and repeat for reps, then switch sides
This is a great exercise to really target the glute minimus. Try to perform these for high reps, and add in longer pauses at the top of the movement to further tax the glute minimus.
10. Wide Stance Banded Hip Thrust
The wide stance banded hip thrust is a hip thrust done with the back on a bench (or floor), and a band around the knees. The wider stance accomplishes both increased band resistance (more tension), and allows you to turn your toes out more to get more hip external rotation.
Like any wide stance movement, allow the knees to turn outwards and point in the same direction of the knees. Do not let the band collapse the legs and knees inwards.
How To Do It
- Start by placing your upper back on a bench, or on the floor (the bench will increase range of motion and improve the effectiveness of this movement)
- With a mini band or hip circle around the knees (or just above them), walk your feet outwards to slightly wider than hip width, and turn the toes out 15-30 degrees
- Your knees should be bent at 90-110 degrees
- Lift the hips upwards, and contract the glutes
- Lower slowly, then raise the hip snack upwards, making sure to not allow the bands to collapse the knees and legs inwards (valgus)
This can also be combined with other hip thrust movements (dumbbells and barbells for example). Wearing a mini band or hip circle during the movement will help increase glute engagement for some individuals who may struggle to find their glutes without the band.
Gluteus Minimus Exercises With Machines
There is only one true glute minimus exercise that is done to specifically target the glute minimus, and that is the hip abduction machine. Below, we will discuss this machine in more detail.
11. Seated/Standing Machine Hip Abduction
This machine comes either in a standing or seated variation, both of which can be great ways to isolate the glute minimus if you are looking for that highly isolated movement.
The nice thing about the machine is that it places you in a position where you can only do what the machine is intended to do, and that means you will not be able to manipulate your body to “cheat” and perform sloppy reps.
How To Do It
- Sit in the machine, with the legs together and the pads resting on the outside of the thighs
- Choose the weight, and the place your hips back in the seat
- Push your legs outwards, making sure to stay controlled in this movement
- Pause with the legs pulled apart to contract the glute minimus
- Slowly lower the weight by bringing the legs back together
As with all machines, the beauty of this is that you can isolate the muscle to a very high degree. That said, if you are doing these, be sure to prioritize good reps and high volume, rather than heavy loads and using momentum to move the weight.
Related Article: Can Bodyweight Exercises Build Glutes?
Gluteus Minimus Exercises With No Equipment
Below is a short list of exercises you can do without equipment. All of these movements below can isolate the glute minimus or in the very least train the glutes, without the need of external weights, bands, or cables.
12. Side Lying Clam Shell
The side lying clam shell can be done without equipment, but can also be done with a resistance band. This exercise is a slight variation of the side lying leg raise, and is done to isolate the glute minimus.
This exercise, when done properly, will resemble a clam shell opening and closing.
How To Do It
- Start by lying on your sides, with your knees bent at about 90 degrees
- Your legs should line up with one another, and your feet should be stacked on top of each other
- Lift the top knee upwards, making sure to keep the feet attached as you lift
- You can increase the demands on this movement by adding a mini band around the knees
- You can also do this in a side plank position, with your bottom knee on the floor (still bent)
This is a pretty low resistance exercise, but can be helpful for some individuals to isolate the glute minimus. If you are not feeling this exercise, try doing the harder variations with bands or in the side plank position.
13. Fire Hydrants
This is a dynamic exercise that targets the glute minimus, maximus, and hip flexors. The glute minimus is targeted especially when the leg is lifted outwards to the sides (hip abduction).
This is a good general hip warm up exercise, however it is important to stabilize the lower back and not allow spinal flexion and extension to take place as you move the leg.
How To Do It
- Assume an “all-fours” position on the floor, with your shoulders stacked on top of your wrists, and knees bent at 90 degrees
- Lift one leg outwards, similar to how some dogs go to the bathroom (lifting the leg)
- From there, keep your leg elevated and pull the knee forward, in a circle motion.
- Once the leg is forward, extend it all the way behind you, then continue pulling the knee forward as you are keeping it lifted out to the side
- Repeat for reps, or do more in the opposition direction, then switch legs
This is an easy exercise to mess up, especially when people have poor control or awareness of their lower back and spinal flexion/extension. If this is an issue, you can also do this exercise lying on the floor (dead bug position).
14. Side Plank with Hip Dip
The side plank with hip dip is a good beginner exercise that combines the side plank with a glute minimus hip raise.
This should be done like a side plank, with the only difference being that the lifter lowers their hips to the floor, then raises them upwards, pushing through the sides of the feet, and contracting the glute minimus at the top of the movement.
How To Do It
- Start by assuming a side plank, either from the elbows or with the bottom hand fully extended
- With the legs stacked on one another, dip the hips towards the floor a few inches
- Lift the hips back upwards, pausing at the top of the movement to contact the glute minimus (side of the glute)
- Repeat for reps, and then switch sides
Think about flexing the side of the glutes as you lift, and lift the hip by pushing through the leg, rather than using your upper body through the arm or elbow.
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About The Author
Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.