The gluteus medius typically gets overshadowed by its highly publicized big brother, the gluteus maximus. Fortunately, it just hired me as its PR agent. This muscle, along with the gluteus maximus, is responsible for stabilizing the hips during all activities involving the lower body. It originates on the gluteal surface of the ilium just inferior to the iliac crest and inserts on the greater trochanter of the femur. Its main functions are abduction and internal rotation of the leg.
Unfortunately, this critical muscle is often found laying on the couch with a bag of chips in hand– in other words, it is lazy and weak. Some muscles can get away with this type of behavior, but unfortunately a strong glute medius is critical for most sports activities including running, soccer, tennis, hockey and football. In lateral moving sports, the glute medius, along with other hip abductors, are the leg brakes. As the foot plants into the ground to change direction of movement, the hip abductors help decelerate your body and keep your hips from going past your ankles. Multiple studies show that a weak glute medius is associated with chronic ankle sprains, reduced plantar flexion, IT band syndrome, and an increased risk of ACL injuries. Interested in preventing those injuries and building a strong hip leg complex? Get your glutes in gear with the following Yoga Tune Up® poses to wake up, strengthen and stretch this muscle: jithara parivartonasana variation 3, abductor lifts, and asymmetrical uttanasana. I’ll be posting a video demo of abductor lifts next week to get you started!
 J Athl Train. 2006; 41(1): 74–78.)
 Clin J Sport Med. 2000 Jul;10(3):16975.
Thanks, Robyn. Great exercise suggestions to help strengthen the gluteus medius. I’ve seen first hand in sports, particularly running, the value of strengthening this important muscle and how it can help improve injury recovery and recurrence as well as reduce risk of injury.
They keep on coming,these great articles.
As homework for ytu teacher trainer course I am researching the gluteus maximus because I have problems in that area finding out more about the problem.
Going to do the suggested poses
I so appreciate your evidence-based approach.
Having thought that my right leg was my strongest, I’ve recently become of aware of having a weak glut med on this side and it was evident in training today practicing the Abductor lifts. This article and its comments are a reminder to keep changing it up. Thank you.
You are right on! Your blog relates to my experiences since becoming a student of my body. After years of Crossfit, I assumed I was getting stronger everywhere. I discovered that my glute medius was not firing correctly because standard Crossfit movements do not incorporate abduction or internal rotation. I now include accessory work and YTU balls to make sure my glute medius gets targeted.
It was impressed upon me a couple years ago the importance of strong glutes and have Incorporated glute strength exercises and yoga poses into the classes I lead. I appreciate this article that keeps me on track to what I believe in.
Informative article,in physio we often call it one sided lazy butt syndrome.too much sitting certainly contributes to this as well as shifting your weight to one hip.warrior3and moon risers are also a great way to wake this muscle up.
I have been told by my physio that my glute medius is a couch potato! I will be adding this sequence to my regime for sure!
Good idea of a flow for injury prevention during of season.
Robyn thank you for the short, specific, yet effective regimen, will offer it up to my partner for relief.
Thank You Robyn. I love how precise this blog post is. It is so helpful to associate conditions with potentially weak muscles as you have done here and then also give specific YogaTune Up poses to help with the strengthening. Those abductor lifts are challenging for me…I must need to do them more.
Great post! I love the descriptions of what the Gmed does and how it’s a major stabilizer and decelerator. Such an important muscle! thanks for this post!
I too find that glut med is often ignored because of the larger glut max. As a physical therapist, when treating my clients with an hip or low back issues, I always include exercises for the glut med and min to encourage overall hip health. It is a tricky muscle to isolate only because it is usually so weakened y the time people get to me. I love having YTU balls and exercises now to add to my tool box!
Isolating and strengthening gluteus medius has become such an important part of my movement practice, and was a complete blind spot before finding Yoga Tune Up and pilates…even after over a decade of yoga practice.
I have some residual tightness and weakness in my left gluteus medius from a prior surgery. Thank you for sharing some specific exercises to stretch and strengthen this muscle.
I never realized that a weak glute med was associated with ankle issues. So interesting and helpful to pass along to my students. Thank you!
Interesting! I wonder if there’s a general exception around the glute medius needing strengthening in yoga practitioners? After two decades of asana, my gluteus medius seems tight and strong to the extent that I need it massaged out regularly. Thoughts?
Once again a reminder that the parts of the body effect each other greatly and is really just one big part. If we want to be healthy and functional human beings we have to expose and strengthen our weaknesses or the whole system would suffer.
My glutes are tired just reading about them. I am now fully aware of what I have to do……stay tuned.
Awesome post. It’s super important for dancing. I teach dance classes all about the booty, and i find my students are so out of touch with the muscle that’s responsible for shimmy-ing, hip isolations and, yes, even twerking. Can’t wait to see you video and share with my students. Nice work!
I have always suffered on and off from IT band issues on my leg that I broke 22 years ago. I have a scar that goes right up into my hip and extends into my stomach from where the doctors inserted my rod that goes from hip to knee. That said, it goes right through glute med and just now realized my IT is causing me grief because I ignore that side all the time. Thanks for this article
Thank you for putting the incredible context and importance of the Gute Med. into this post. Now I can share how having a lazy, under-used Glute med will actually make people more susceptible to having ACL (outer-knee pain) and to an increase of lateral ankle stability potentially leading to chronic ankle sprains. I love the idea that the Glute Med. are the “Leg Brakes”, so essential and crucial in any sport and for the non-athletic person, so important in basic hip stability…thus knee and ankle stability-brillant reasons to do ‘Adductor lifts’;)
Another great TYU movement for abductors- Parsarita Lunges minivini- one dynamic movement, 2 muscle groups ( one being abductors) & a super way to create hip balance. Stretches & strengthens abductors & aductors. Strong legs, strong hips. strong postrue. A more balanced you, top to bottom, left to right.
Great article Robyn, gluteus medius are definitely a underdeveloped, and less thought of muscle.
In this time we are all getting older and have to worry about balance and stability. Our gluteus medius are wonderful hip stabilizers to assist in balance! The longer we can stay upright as we age the better health we will stay in!
Ok people get off that couch!
For all of you Olympic weightlifters/CrossFitters out there, neglect your glut medius at your own peril! Lots of our squats require deep, hips-below-the-knees range of motion. I see many beginning athletes struggle to keep their glut medius engaged when they squat, as evidenced by their knees caving in when they stand up with a heavy load. Thanks for posting some of the positions to strengthen the pesky glut medius!
It never ceases to amaze me that we keep separating parts of our body. Having a pain in your ankle? Well, of course it couldn’t be anything but your ankle – insert sarcasm here. I love that Yoga Tune Up is about restoring the WHOLE body. If there is pain in your ankle or knee, check in with your hip!
[…] Pain, Yoga, yoga practice The outward appearance of the gluteal group, particularly our grand gluteus maximus, causes as much pride as consternation in our culture than perhaps any other muscle set. […]
I love the abductor lifts!! And what a perfect opportunity to tell your students to feel the burn!! (:
Don’t forget to stretch afterwards. A very good yoga pose to do is the pigeon. The extended leg lengthens the gluteus minimus/medius as the gluteus maximus is being taken care by the other leg.
Fantastic article Robyn, I have been studying the gluteus medius and the tensor fascia lata tonight for YTU practice sequence in TT. It confirms my studies for tonight that working on the ball this area is super tight in my body.
My IT bands have suffered from a weak gluteus medius. They were so tight in fact that I was feeling it in my knees. My yoga teacher kicked my asana into shape by making me hold ardha chandrasana and virabhadrasana III for what felt like 10 years. My knee pain has gotten better and I thank her for the pain.
Awesome article Robyn. I teach a physique class for people looking to strengthen muscles that benefit dancers = lots of plies and leg lifts in all directions. And most people do have lazy butts! They have a hard time firing their glutes and often go right to using their quadricep for power and movement. Thank you for shedding more light on the importance of a strong Glute medius.
I love your articles Robyn and look forward to more video posts! My glutes are in good shape, or I would like to think. And my glutes love jithara parivartonasana variation 3 work out.
Ditto! This is much needed information in dance classes. I all kinds of dance, but since retired from public school teaching, I’ve taken up ballroom dancing. I feel empowered by my re-immersion into the Yoga Tune-Up program to educate my dance instructors!
Thanks for posting this, the yoga world totally gets to activate their glute medius as their chakras. In the last year I have worked with so many clients, both men and women, whose glutes are not firing. A few of these were athletes that moved in the lateral patterns that you mentioned above. Others were yoga teachers who, as one client put it, have “yoga legs & butt skinny and flat”. She, a beautiful Anusara teacher, now with activated glutes reports to me regularly about all the women she sees in classes with “flat butts and inactive glutes.” We find this funny as she speaks about her definition in her glute medius and now have a “hollowed place like Shawn Johnson,” but in reality all jokes aside your blog is so important as waking up this vital stabilizing muscle has also helped another yogi client of mine hike the John Muir trail when months prior she was in so much knee pain she thought she might cancel the trip. So again, thanks for posting this. We get to keep our clients safe so they look like a sprinter and perform whatever they want to do as long as they wish to do it!
I’m a runner and I can not agree more with Robyn’s article! Though I live an active lifestyle my but is lazy! I learned the hard way that strengthening all the muscles around the knee, ankle, and hips can help prevent injury. I have IT band syndrome and realized later on that the supporting muscles around the tendon help the knee pain when strengthened. The gluteus medius is definitely overlooked. Tried these Tune- Up postures this morning and they were great!
So informative–particularly the reference to the glute med as the leg breaks(along with other adductors). That phrase resonated with my brain and I’m hoping my gluteus medius can translate the message. I have noticed that one gluteus medius can engage but I have a hard time with the other and wouldn’t you know it’s the same side that my IT band is so tight I have a hard time getting it to sit back and let my glute get in on the action. I especially liked the directness of which YTU poses to focus on. Thanks Robyn!
Although I am not an athlete, I find this article interesting because I must admit, I do think I have “Lazy Butt Syndrome.” (Thanks, Dawn, for this awesome new term!) 😉 Through this YTU Level 1 training I am finding a number of muscles that have “gone to sleep” and need to be reawakened! Thanks to YTU, I look forward to waking up my lazy butt along with a few other snoozers!
Ahhhh… the gluteus medius… such an overlooked and underdeveloped muscle. Thanks for shedding light on it’s true worth! I do believe that building gluteus medius to it’s maximus potential is imperative for injury resistance throughout the lower quarter. Most people, including athletes, that I see are ankle to knee deep in lazy butt syndrome!
Wow! Another tip I wish I knew when I was playing soccer. I am not surprised that having balanced (and stronger) glute mediuses will improve mechanics for any sport that involves explosive changes of direction. Off to do some abductor lifts! Thanks =)
We presented our ball therapy sequence in class today and mine was on hips and thighs, so I have learned a lot about the gluteus medius these last few days. I’ve suffered from it band syndrome in the past, so I find it incredibly helpful to learn more about this muscle. I am now much more aware of the actions that it performs — pelvis stabilization for instance. I also now have a repertoire of exercises I can utilize to keep this muscle conditioned and toned and working for me vs. just hanging out on the side of the hip using up space.
Ditto what Katie said!
I could swear you looked into my window and saw all the challenges I have with my glute med(especially on the left). This article couldn’t be better timing and I really look forward to your video demo!! Thanks so much!