We did talk about the main butt muscle, gluteus maximus, already. But there are also two deeper layers of glutes — medius and minimus — who do things with the hips too.
Action, we will get to. First, let’s make sure we all know what body parts we’re talking about, using handy dandy line diagrams.
It’s a little tricky to see here, but the gluteus medius sits under the muscle layer that is the gluteus maximus:
It runs across the back of the iliac crest and attaches to the top of the femur bone.
One layer below that, in basically the same location and shape, lies the gluteus minimus:
It starts a little lower on the iliac crest — on the flatter outside surface, rather than toward the top rim — and doesn’t extend quite so far down the head of the femur. But in the grand scheme of things, the gluteus minimus is more or less the Mini Me of the gluteus medius.
Then there is the oddball of this group, the tensor fasciae latae. Like the two glutes above, the tensor fasciae latae starts on the outside of the iliac crest. However, the tensor faciae latae sits more forward than do either of the gluteal muscles — and it extends down the lateral side of each hip as well, where it inserts into the IT band.
[Sorry about the giganticness of the picture. "Medium" was too small to be clear; this is "large." Anyway, the tensor fasciae latae is on the left side of the illustration, about one third of the way down.]
All of these muscles are hip abductors. They move the hip and leg away from the midline, as in pretty much any straddle-type pose. Additionally, these three muscles work together when it’s necessary to support the body on one leg.
You know what this means, people — standing balance poses. (And straddle stuff. Because I like straddles.)