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Stork Exercise For Gluteus Medius Activation

The stork exercise is one of our all-time favorites for gluteus medius activation and neural priming prior to exercise. Not only is it already in a functional weight-bearing position, but you can ramp up as much activation as you want by pushing harder and harder into the wall!

There are a couple keys to properly executing the stork exercise:

  1. The stance leg (leg on the ground) is the one doingย all the work
  2. Drive your foot into the ground and squeeze your glutes toย push into the wall
  3. Think of your hips as a tetter-totter. You’llย want drive your hip on the wallย up and into the wall. This will cause your hips on your stance leg to be relatively lower than the one in the wall.

In terms of programming, use it as a glute activation warm up prior to getting into my more dynamic exercises like jumping (READ: Plyometric Jump Training Progressions). I usually go for 2-3 sets of 30-45s holds. That’s all you need! Shown below are a couple of our favorite variations to the exercise, from easiest to most advanced. Give them a shot!

The Stork Exercise a.k.a The Captain Morgan

This stork exercise is one of my Favorites for improving hip stability (READ: Improve Your Hip Stability With Prehab) The Glute Medius wall lean will mimic the single leg stance required for functional movements such as walking, ambulating on stairs, or running. When the Gluteus Medius is weak it can lead to injuries such as IT band syndrome, medial knee pain, trochanteric bursitis, low back pain, Achilles tendinopathy, shin splints, and plantar fascititis. (Ireland et al. 2003, Robinson et al. 2007, Cichonowski et al. 2007).

For this exercise first start with your feet about hip-width apart. With your knee closest to the wall elevate and push your knee into the wall so that your hip is NOT touching the wall. AVOID leaning over towards your stance limb, this is tricky because at the same time you want to AVOID allowing your shoulder to touch the wall. Basically, allow your trunk to remain in the neutral position you would be in if you were to stand. The further you walk out your stance leg the more difficult this exercise will get. Although you are also strengthening the leg that is pushing up against the wall, the stance limb is the one that should fatigue first! Go ahead and try this out, it is much more difficult than it looks!


Stork with a Swissball

The stork exercise, if done properly, is one of the best GLUTE MEDIUS exercises out there. YOU WILL FEEL IT INSTANTLY! Adding a dynamic component, as shown in the video above, can even further progress this exercise. Heres how to properly perform a stork: use as small of a swissball as possible. Place the swissball against the wall and place your distal thigh/knee against it, NOT your hip. DO NOT LEAN your entire bodyweight into the wall. Let your pelvis drop by rolling the swissball down. Then, contract and FIRE YOUR GLUTS on your STANCE leg on the ground, driving your PELVIS up and rolling the swissball towards the sky. The motion that should be occurring should be your pelvis rocking side to side in the frontal plane…โ€œshake those hips!” Hold for an isometric contraction for a few seconds before repeating The stronger/more you fire your glutes, the harder the exercise becomesโ€ฆso donโ€™t go easy on yourself! Let us know how it feels!


Storks for Runners

We’re big advocates of the stork exercise, or Captain Morgan, exercise for GLUTE PRIMING. Once you can properly perform the stork, try implementing a little bit of sport specific movement into the exercise! Here, I’m trying my best to replicate the biomechanics at the hip for a runner. The glutes are our primary controller of frontal plane motion in running. During loading response (when you strike the ground), your glutes need to eccentrically control your femur moving into flexion. As you progress over your foot, it requires the glutes to concentrically move the femur into extension. Just have fun with movement!

READ: Runner’s Prehab Checklist



  • Maggie
    Posted at 09:57h, 30 May Reply

    Have a question about the stork with a swissball and how the foot is externally rotated? Would that cause some adduction during the swing phase in running and promote valgus of the knee?

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 16:28h, 08 June Reply

      I don’t think we meant to exernally rotate the foot during the exercise! But in general if the “external rotation” at the foot is due to arch collapse, it could definitely affect the knee up the change and cause percieved valgus in running. Hope that helps!

  • Kaitlyn Shultz
    Posted at 06:45h, 27 June Reply

    Love this, thanks for posting these! It has helped me with a current patient and many more to come.

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 13:55h, 27 June Reply

      Awesome!! Happy to hear that it has helped you and your patients kaitlyn, thats our goal!!

  • John
    Posted at 11:25h, 30 November Reply

    Hi, I just wanted to clarify something in your instructions, “With your knee closest to the wall elevate and push your knee into the wall so that your hip is NOT touching the wall.”

    Essentially, should the knee towards the wall be performing horizontal abduction into the wall while the stance leg is driving force into that leg? As you move further from the wall, the “wall knee” needs to increase its abduction to reach the wall and the moment arm of the stance leg is increased, thereby increasing demand on the stance leg?


    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 17:01h, 07 December Reply

      Yes! So drive into the wall ONLY using the stance leg. naturally, your up leg will have to push harder to counterbalance. But the exercise is really for the STANCE leg. Try it out!

  • Kathleen M Riegel
    Posted at 05:14h, 25 April Reply

    This gluteus medius wall lean is great exercise for my situation – both my glute medius’ s were not activating due to weakness and then injury.

    If I do the wall lean before lateral straight leg raises – the pain in one knee going down basement stairs (my “test”) literally disappears.

    If I forget the wall lean, the “stair test” still is positive for knee pain descending.

    Any clue why this is so important/effective vs just doing the lateral straight leg raises? What does it work other than the medius?



    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 08:52h, 12 May Reply

      Hi kathleen,

      It would bee a variety of reasons, but I would guess the fact that the wall lean is closed chain is a huge factor. You are activating not just the glute med, but a TON of other muscles in your leg. in addition, there is a stability component required with that exercise that doesn’t occur with the lateral leg raise, which may carry over into functional tasks better. Hope that helps!

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