Resistance bands are a priceless tool to have in your toning arsenal. For starters, they’re inexpensive and easy to take on the road. Even better: “They’re joint-friendly and provide a more functional movement in comparison to free weights,” says Bec Donlan, a certified personal trainer in NYC who teaches band-based classes at Bandier’s Studio B.
You can get these bands in different forms, too. Loop resistance bands — the kind that forms a circle, rather than one long strip — around your thighs or ankles during exercise. This makes them especially effective for pinpointing the muscles that make up your backside, says Donlan.
“[They] directly target your glutes, in particular your medial glute — which is a muscle that often refuses to fire for the majority of people,” explains the Australian native. “When it doesn’t activate, the muscles around it overcompensate and start doing all the work.” That can lead to imbalances (think oversized quads but a flat booty) and injuries. Whomp, whomp.
The bands also add ascending resistance to your weight room routine, meaning the exercises get tougher as you move through the full range of motion. That doesn’t happen with free weights, which give a constant resistance throughout the move. More intensity, more stability — aka efficiency at its best.
Convinced to join the band yet? Take on these five band exercises to fire up your glutes, and the rest of your lower body! We promise you’ll love the booty-toning benefits, and the strength upsides, too.
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5 Band Exercises to Build a Stronger Butt
1. Banded Side Step
This is one of the best band exercises to work your hips, abductors and the connective tissue in your legs, slashing your chance of injury. But it’s also a perfect way to prime your backside to work hard. Donlan recommends adding it to every warm-up to ensure your medial glutes fire up throughout your workout.
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, band around ankles and holding a dumbbell at chest height in front of you (a). Lower into a squat (b). Staying low, take one step to the right and back, then one step to the left and back for one rep (c). Do 3 sets of 20 reps.
2. Deep Squat
Adding a band takes your typical squat to the next level. “Your glutes have to work seriously hard to fight against the band to ensure your knees don’t collapse,” says Donlan. Try it as a goblet squat (holding a dumbbell vertically at chest height in front of you) or as a bodyweight banded squat.
How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, band around thighs right above knees (a). Push your hips back and lower down to the ground until thighs are parallel to the ground (b). Stand back up to start (c). Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
RELATED: How Low Should You Squat? (And How to Improve It)
3. Curtsy Lunge
A favorite among runners, this move “is a great bang-for-your-buck exercise,” says Donlan. “It works all parts of your glutes, hip abductors and core.” She suggests holding a kettlebell in front of your chest or two dumbbells at your sides when you’re ready to up the intensity.
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, band around thighs (a). Step your left foot behind you and to the right, lowering until your right thigh is parallel to the floor (b). Return to standing (c). Do 10 reps, then repeat on the opposite side.
4. Single-Leg Deadlift
Deadlifts do wonders for your entire posterior chain — back, glutes, hamstrings — which people often ignore in the weight room. The single-leg version also challenges your balance, which strengthens your core muscles as well.
How to: Put a band under your right foot and hold it with your right hand (a). Split your stance, right foot in front and left foot behind. Transfer your weight to right leg (b). Keeping your back straight and core engaged, bend your right knee slightly and slowly hinge forward at the hips, lowering until your hand reaches mid-calf (c). Stand back up to start (d). Do 10 to 15 reps, then repeat on opposite side.
RELATED: Are You Doing the Deadlift All Wrong?
5. Butt Kick Back
Your glutes will be begging for mercy by the time you finish this burner. It primarily targets your butt, says Donlan, but gets your hamstrings in on the action, too.
How to: Start one all fours with a band around your right hand and the bottom of your right foot (a). Extend your right foot behind you, keeping the band straight, and lower for 1 rep (b). Do 10 to 15 reps, then repeat on opposite side.
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