The hip muscles can be divided into four groups according to their position relative to the hip joint. These are the gluteal muscles, adductor muscles, lateral rotator muscles, and iliopsoas muscles.
The gluteal muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae. They form most of the muscles of the buttock. The adductor muscles include the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, pectineus, and gracilis. The lateral rotator muscles include the externus and internus obturators, the piriformis, the superior and inferior gemelli, and the quadratus femoris. The iliopsoas muscles include the iliacus and psoas major.
Many hip muscles may be involved in a specific movement in the hip. However, there is generally one primary muscle controlling the movement, with others providing a secondary role. The gluteus maximus is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body. Located in the buttocks, you sit on your gluteus maximus. In use, the gluteus maximus is responsible for hip extension, or rotating the hip and leg backwards. They are also involved in standing from a squatting position. Sprinters also use the gluteus maximum muscles to launch themselves out of the running blocks.
The gluteus medius and minimus provide hip abduction, or moving the leg away from the centerline of the body. They are also responsible for medial rotation of the hip and leg. This is rotation towards the center of the body, or clockwise rotation for the left leg and counterclockwise rotation for the right leg.
The adductor muscles, as the name implies, provides for hip adduction. This is moving the hip and leg back towards the centerline of the body. The adductor muscles perform in opposition to the gluteus medius and minimus.
The lateral rotator muscles are responsible for rotation of the leg. Lateral rotation means rotation away from the center of the body, or clockwise rotation for the right leg and counterclockwise rotation for the left leg. The lateral rotator muscles are in opposition to the gluteus medius and minimus medial rotation.
Lastly, the iliopsoas muscles provide for hip flexion. This is rotating the hip or legs forward. The iliopsoas muscles are in opposition to the gluteus maximus.