Whether you hit the gym for leg day a couple times a week, or squeeze in a few butt exercises while you're working out at home, you're probably pretty confident that you're strengthening your glutes from all angles, right? Squatting, lunging, and deadlifting are all really effective, go-to workouts that help strengthen your lower body and, of course, more specifically, your booty. However, the best exercises for your butt might not be the ones you know and love (to hate) so much — especially because they're likely neglecting a really important muscle that's often forgotten about.
The exercises that most people rely on when they're working out their glutes (such as lunges, squats, and deadlifts) solely target what's called the gluteus maximus — aka the largest muscle in your butt, located directly in the center of your bottom. It's easy to forget that there's a smaller, but equally as important muscle residing in your rear end, known as the gluteus medius.
The gluteus medius runs along the side of your rear and plays an important role in keeping your pelvis steady in daily activities and during exercise, according to Runner's World.
It's important to strengthen this muscle just as much as your gluteus maximus, as research shows that the gluteus medius is often inactive or very weak.
This is a problem because, even though the gluteus medius is a smaller muscle, it is by no means insignificant. This underrated butt muscle is responsible for a huge variety of lower-body functions, including abduction, internal and external rotation of the hip, and stabilization of both the pelvis and hip. Because of its important role in lower-body strength and stability, if your gluteus medius becomes weak or inactive, the muscle can begin to cause instability down your leg, especially during weight-bearing activities or running.
I know, you're probably wondering why having a stable pelvis and hips really matters all that much in the first place, but trust me, it does. According to MindBodyGreen, making a point to strengthen your gluteus medius can help relieve back pain, improve the overall balance of your lower-body, and of course, it helps you get one step closer to achieving your overall goal of having a stronger booty.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with squatting it out on the reg to target that gluteus maximus, but it's equally important to include some gluteus medius exercises in your routine, because TBH, that muscle deserves some love, too.
One of the best exercises to target that little, forgotten glute muscle is banded glute bridges.
To do these bad boys, lie on your back with a resistance band around your legs, placed just above your knees. As you lift your hips up, push your knees outward, pausing here, before lowering back down to the ground. Repeat for about 15 reps, or until you feel that gluteus medius burn.
Side-lying hip abductions are also great for working your gluteus medius, and they're super simple to do whenever, wherever.
Make sure you really engage your glutes throughout this exercise, maintaining control of your lifted leg throughout. Stack your hips and shoulders, and pay attention to your bodily alignment, as this will ensure a more successfully targeted workout.
And if you just can't get enough of your gluteus medius workouts, and you want to make up for all those lost years of neglect, include some "clamshells" in your routine.
This one may look pretty easy at first glance, but trust me, you'll be feeling it after a few reps. If you're looking for a bit more intensity, though, you can add a resistance band into the mix and challenge your glute muscles even more.
The good news is, you're finally showing that gluteus medius the love and attention it deserves. And the even better news is that basically all of these workouts can be done while you're in your living room, catching up on Riverdale episodes. Yeah, you're welcome, fam.