Best Glute Exercises That Aren’t The Squat: Banded Side Steps
In our past two blog posts we looked at exercises that targeted the glute max. The glute max is one of the largest muscles in your body and is largely responsible for hip extension, driving you forward during walking, running and jumping. While training the glute max is highly important, it’s not the only glute muscle that you should be targeting during your training.
The glute medius is the other glute muscle that we’ll be looking at today. The glute medius is primarily responsible for externally rotating the hip (turning and twisting it outwardly) and it’s highly involved in keeping the pelvis level during running and walking – something important for balance and preventing injury. It rests around the area where your back pocket would be on your jeans.
If you want to have better balance, less pain, reduced risk of injury, and if you just want your butt to look nicer – you need to include glute med training into your routine, along with training your glute max.
A fantastic exercise for targeting your glute med, that requires nothing but a little loop band (monster band) are side steps. This exercise will have your glutes on fire in no time, it’s great for training stability of the hip and it can act as a great addition to your lower body training.
How to perform side steps …
1.) Grab a small loop band, start with a lighter one at first to get a feel for the exercise.
2.) Step through the band with both feet, pull it up until its just above the knees, and adjust it until it’s as comfortable as a rubber band that’s squeezing your legs together can be. You may want to sit while setting this up, in order to avoid losing your balance and falling – trust me, it happens. You can also place the band around the ankles, this might be a little more difficult, and it won’t give you the same feed back that many people need to make sure their knees aren’t caving inward.
3.) Position yourself, standing on the floor, in a semi-squatted position – like an athletic ready position. Feet around shoulder width apart, knees pushing outwardly into the band, butt pushed backward slightly (seated back). Your core should be engaged. Your glutes may feel this a bit already.
4.) Keep the knees pushing outwardly into the band, press into the floor with your left foot using it to push yourself to the right, step wider than shoulder width apart with your right foot.
5.) Once your right foot hits the ground, your stance should be wider than shoulder width apart. With control, step the left foot towards the right brining it back to a shoulder width stance – your starting position. You should have taken one large side step, all while keeping your butt seated back and your knees slightly bent. You should feel this in your glutes.
6.) Continue on like this, in a side stepping motion for 5-10 steps towards the right. Then reverse and walk 5 – 10 steps towards the left. Work up to 3 rounds of this with the band of your choice, before moving up to a heavier band or more steps.
Be sure to keep constant tension on the band by pressing the knees outward into the band. Do not break your semi-squatted position during your stepping, keep your hips seated back and a slight bend in the knees. Never let the feet come in any closer than shoulder width apart, your steps should be wide.
While the exercises we discussed in this and the past two blog posts are great glute training exercises, they’re certainly not the only ones. They’re a great place to start and they’ll improve your quality of movement, but there are plenty more variations and additions to choose from when it comes to training your glutes. If you want to learn more – I highly suggest meeting with one of our Wynn Fitness Personal Trainers to take your training to a whole different level.