The most underdeveloped and weakest muscle in your lower body is the Gluteus Medius (GM).

And although you may not realize it, the GM is an important part of your core—it needs to be strengthened and developed for you to look, feel, and move your very best.

A weak GM exposes you to all sorts of damage down the kinetic chain, especially your lower back and knees. You won’t hit the GM with all those squats and hip thrusts you see featured on Instagram. You also won’t hit it with deadlifts.

Unless you make a concerted effort in your program to train this muscle you are probably not strengthening your GM in your workouts.

Here are the top five reasons you need to strengthen your Gluteus Medius:

  1. Keeps you balanced on your feet.
    The GM is the #1 muscle to help you stay balanced on your feet.
    Every time you lift your foot and walk or run the GM supports the pelvis and stabilizes the hips. It does this by contracting as soon as your foot hits the ground. Because of its close proximity to the body’s center of gravity (your belly button) and its strength potential, it can work with the abs to ensure your center of gravity stays over your base of support. This is what keeps you upright and helps you avoid falls.
  2. Gives you solid knee control.
    The GM is a frontal plane stabilizer of the knee. That means it prevents the knee from moving too far inward or outward relative to the hip when your foot hits the ground. The GM prevents excessive shifting of the knee, which can lead to injuries to the ACL and MCL ligaments as well as the knee cartilage.
  3. Keeps the lower back stable.
    When the GM is weak, your body compensates during walking by allowing your body to side bend towards the side of the foot that hits the ground. It does this to stay balanced over that foot. The GM is an integral part of back pain diagnoses. When this muscle weakens, the pelvis and hip are unable to sustain balanced standing, walking, or running. Very often, a person with a weak GM will stand or walk with one foot angled, duck like. Next time you are walking down the street, keep watch: you will be surprised at the number of people who walk like this.
  4. Keeps you squatting.
    Squatting is a fundamental movement pattern we must be able to do no matter how old we are.
    The GM is a key muscle in making sure your knees, ankles, and hips stay in proper alignment during squatting. When the GM is weak, your knees will migrate too far inward during the lowering phase of your squat, weakening the power of the ascending phase of the squat when you are pushing back up against gravity.
  5. You want to lose the droopy booty.
    For some of you, this might be the most important reason:  you want to reshape your rear and get those jaw-dropping glutes!
    The GM is found along the lateral side of the hip directly behind the hip bone. When well developed, it creates roundness when viewed from behind. When weak and under-developed, it creates a hollow appearance along the side of the hip resulting in a pancake-style butt (and you don’t want that!). A well-developed GM will reshape your booty by creating a shapely, firm, and rounded appearance to the entire region.

Here is a simple bodyweight test to see if you have a weak Gluteus Medius:

  1. Stand next to a wall with your right shoulder about two feet from the wall.
  2. Place your right hand on the wall and your left foot on the ground, and lift your right foot.
  3. Push your left hip out to the side while bending your left knee and pushing your hip back (that’s your gluteus medius)–like you are curtseying.
  4. Pause for a second, and then come up slow and controlled, squeezing your glute.

If you can’t do 30 of these without burning or pain in your hip, you have a weak Gluteus Medius on your left side. Make sure to do the other side too, because they are completely different.

Here are the best ways to train the Gluteus Medius:

The easiest and most effective way to train the Gluteus Medius is by implementing mini-band training into your workouts on a regular basis.

Target the muscle first with lateral side walks or monster walks or diagonal walks with the mini-band 1-2 inches above your knees. Do these slowly for 60 seconds.

Then challenge the muscle you just targeted by increasing speed with exercises such as skaters, drop squats, and side shuffles, moving quickly for 30 seconds.

Repeat for 3-4 rounds.

With your mini-bands you can attack this forgotten core muscle and conquer your back and knee pain. You’ll improve your stability, you’ll look better, and you’ll feel better when you train your Gluteus Medius—get started today!