Not all band glutes exercises are created equal. Here are some top isolation moves to warm up or finish off your lower body workouts. But first…
Is the band best above or below my knees?
When it comes to performing many band glutes exercises, the most common question is whether the band should be placed above or below your knees? In order to maximize both effectiveness and training longevity I’d recommend you use these simple rules:
- Position the mini-band above your knees if you have a history or knee issues, or your band resistance is too high causing other (non-targeted) muscles to get involved (e.g., TFL). Placing the band above your knees will reduce torque at the hips and knees, making the exercises easier to perform.
- If you have healthy knees and the right level resistance band, your mini-band should more often be placed below your knees. It’s a good comprise between knee torque and glutes activation.
- For maximal glutes activation you’ll get the most by placing the band around your ankles, or stood on it. This is significantly harder and achieves higher glutes activation, but also places the most stress on your knees.
Comfort factors in to this massively, too. The above “rules” are a good starting point. But, if where you position the band initially doesn’t feel right then just go with whatever feels best. Here are some top glutes exercises to use your bands with.
The Box Step is a staple band glutes isolator that can be done with either a mini-band or long strength band using the “X band” set-up. While it’s true that the band is pulling your knees inward, thereby working your glutes in abduction (or resisting adduction), when performing the box step you should be most focused on hip extension – As you step forward you should be focusing on maximally extending the hip on your back leg. As you step backward you should focus on extension of that leg stepping back, and trying to create as much tension in your glutes as possible.
Lateral X Band Glutes Walk
The Lateral X Band Walk is another staple glutes isolator. Stand on a long strength band then cross it in the middle, holding it by your pockets. Get in to a high athletic stance and step towards the side leading with your heels. “Pushing the floor away” with your trail leg as you step with lead leg.
Banded Clam Raises
Clam Raises are a common rehabilitation exercise used for glutes strengthening. They produce a respectable amount of glute activation (especially gluteus medius and upper glute max fibers), while minimizing hip flexor recruitment. Once you’ve mastered bodyweight then using a resistance band to increase difficulty. Hybrid clam raises are another good option, and can also be done with a mini-band.
Quadruped Bent-Knee Hip Abduction
The Quadruped Bent-Knee Hip Abducton sure sounds like a mouthful, but it works as a glutes exercise exactly how it says – glutes loading through bent-knee hip abduction. You can do these with a mini-band also, but using a longer strength band as shown in the video adds a different dimension. Albeit a mini-band may be more practical. Using a hip-drop works to load your hip abductors in a greater stretched position, making this a useful exercise for targeting your glutes through a large range of motion. In the video I’m using an NT-Loop, which for on-skin contact are a more comfortable option than regular strength bands.
Monster Band Glutes Walk
Monster Band Walks are a personal favorite. I throw them in to my clients warm-ups frequently, as well as superset them with other “main” exercises, and as part of finisher-type circuits. Like the other band glutes exercises here, the goal is to not merely “muscle through” the exercise. Your focus here is on hip extension and feeling your glutes contract one butt cheek at a time – cheek by cheek! As a bonus there’s a nice amount of hamstrings activation with these too.
Strength Band Hip Thrust
When glute-building is your goal it’s likely that heavy Hip Thrust variations are going to be showing up in your program somewhere. You don’t always need to go heavy to get a lot out of your Hip Thrusts though. Doing lighter variations at the end of your workouts, and for a greater number of reps can help maximize the growth of your glutes by creating some localized blood occlusion and metabolic stress (a butt pump). You can use these as a glutes warm-up drill too, to increase your awareness and get a better contraction in your heavier exercises that follow.
Lateral Kneeling Hip Thrusts
Lateral Kneeling Hip Thrusts are another effective band glutes exercise, primarily to be used in your warm-ups. They’ll not only improve the awareness of your glutes allowing you to work them harder, but they’ll open up your hips and adductors as the same time. Tight hips can limit the productivity of your glutes-focused workouts. Cure it with a few light sets of these in your warm-ups or rest periods.
Banded Running Man
The Running Man is considered a more complex band glutes exercise. I’ve spoken of them numerous times in the past, HERE for example. They produce extremely high levels of activation in your entire glutes complex, arguably more-so than other exercises featured above. Taking the regular bodyweight version and using a resistance band is a good way to progress them with load. Again, do not muscle through these! You need to have already good levels of glute awareness to get the most out of them.
Use these band glutes exercises as part of a warm-up, or as a high-repetition butt burner to finish off your workouts:
As warm-up exercises you’ll want to minimize fatigue while maximizing focus and awareness. You want to select a resistance and a number of reps that won’t hammer your glutes, but will still allow you to feel something going on in the right area. Just a few sets of 10-20 reps or 20-30 seconds is usually enough, depending on your level of conditioning and the strength of your resistance band.
As finisher exercises you can bolt-on a few sets at the end of your lower body workouts, or combine them within a mini “burner” circuit. Keep the rest periods short and reps high. Multiple sets of 20-30 reps or 30-60 seconds work well, depending on your goals.
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