11 most effective glute band exercises to build a stronger bum

Glute resistance bands are one of the most inexpensive, easy-to-store pieces of home gym equipment you can own. They're small, bendable and can be shoved in even the 'most' well-organised drawers. However, whilst they're up there with the easiest things to 'add to cart', do you know what to do with them when you actually come to use them? Maybe not.

To get the most bang for your buck from your resistance bands, it's best to get clued up on how to use them properly – especially if you're using them with a goal in mind and doing exercises for a bigger bum, trying to use them for glute activation (a must when strength training the area, like when doing Pilates) or swotting up on glute band exercises.

Because, as anyone who’s ever smashed out three sets of resistance band glute bridges will know, bands can pack a helluva punch. They add resistance to each exercise, meaning your body has to work harder to stabilise and push against them.

What are the benefits of glute band exercises?

  • Budget-friendly

  • Easy to store

  • Wide range of exercises to target upper and lower body as well as the core

  • Low-impact

  • Simple to travel with

  • Different resistances to choose from

‘I love using resistance bands in my own workouts and with clients,' says Dr Ailish McLaughlin, PT at The Foundry with a PhD in exercise physiology. 'The majority of my training is focused around improving joint function and mobility, so that my clients and I can move better and without pain in everything we do.'

If that’s not a major concern of yours, fair enough – but don’t knock what this kind of training can do to assist you in hitting muscle, strength and conditioning goals, she says.

Do resistance bands work for glutes?

'Resistance bands—and especially resistance bands for glutes—are a great tool for providing resistance through the full range of motion of an exercise, as well as helping to activate key stabiliser muscles in the hips and shoulders,' says Lee Mullins, personal trainer and founder of the Workshop Gymnasium.

The best bit about using resistance bands for glutes is that they come in different weights – usually, extra-light, light, medium, heavy and extra heavy. This range means you can increase or decrease the resistance as your workout requires.

What's the best way to use a resistance band in glute band exercises?

One of the best ways to use a glute resistance band is by adding it into your warm-up routine, especially if you're into strength training or doing free weights workouts. Here's why.

'A large percentage of people over-recruit the quads when doing hip dominant exercises, so a set of hip extensions using a mini band before squatting, deadlifting or lunging will help activate the hips and glutes before performing the lower body lift,' says Dalton Wong, performance coach at TwentyTwo Training.

What's the best type of resistance band for glute band exercises?

There are multiple types of resistance bands you can choose for glute band exercises – short, long, looped and unlooped.

Unlooped resistance bands (they look a lot like stretchy oversized scarves) are best used if you only want to buy one resistance band – you can tie them more tightly to make them "heavier" – or for cooldown exercises and physiotherapy movements.

If you're using resistance bands for bum workouts or Pilates workouts, smaller looped bands will be your go-to.

For warm-up exercises or mobility training, plump for a longer, looped band – it'll provide lighter resistance but enough activation to wake up the muscles.

Type is not the only thing to consider when it comes to choosing a band: resistance bands are largely split into five weights – meaning how much tension they'll exert.

  1. Extra light

  2. Light

  3. Medium

  4. Heavy

  5. Extra heavy

If you're a beginner, choose a lighter band. It's better to move with correct form than add too much resistance and throw off your technique because of it.

How to use different types of resistance bands

The beauty of banded workouts is how flexible they are: if you only have a long loop band, simply loop it around you twice. If you have an unlooped recovery band tie it in a knot, leaving the loop in the middle big enough to work with. Remember: the smaller it is, the more resistance you'll have. 11

What are the best glute band exercises?

Women's Health cover star and brilliant PT Alice Liveing demonstrates how to do her nine favourite glute activation exercises in the video below. Keep scrolling for the step-by-step instructions for how to do each glute band exercise.

11 glute band exercises to try

1. Side shuffle

a) Pull the resistance band around your legs just above your knees or ankles. Keep your feet wide enough that you can feel the burn

b) Lower your bum towards the ground into a squat position. Then step sideways four or five times and repeat the other way. Feel the burn.

2. Standing lateral leg raise

a) With your hands on your hips and feet hip-width apart, loop the resistance band around your ankles.

b) Pause, then lift your right leg as high as you can out to the back. Repeat on the other side.

3. Standing kick back

a) Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, abs are drawn in and hands on your hips. Loop the resistance band around your ankles.

b) Slowly ‘kick’ your leg to the side as far you can before returning to the start position. Repeat on both sides to ensure an even workout.

4. Monster walks

a) Loop the resistance band around your ankles. Crouch into a squat position, keeping your back upright.

b) Clasping your hands together, walk forward one foot at a time in a strong and stable manner.

5. Squat with band

a) Standing with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, ensure your hips are over your knees and knees over ankles. Your spine should be neutral and your shoulders relaxed down. Loop the resistance band around your thighs.

b) Moving hips back, low- er into a squat. Keep chest and shoulders upright. Go as deep as is comfortable. Hold for a few seconds, return to start.

6. Side-lying clams

a) Start by laying down on the ground on your side. Pop your head onto the arm that's on the ground. Place a resistance band around your knees. Start by moving your hips up to a 45-degree angle and your knees to a 90-degree angle.

b) Push your knee away from your core but keep your feet pressed together.

c) Pause when you get to the top of the move, clenching your glutes and ab muscles, and return to the ground. Repeat.

7. Side-lying leg raise

a) Lie on your side with one leg on top of the other. Bend at your hips so your legs and torso form a slight angle. Loop the resistance band around your ankles.

b) Raise your left leg, make 30 circles clockwise and anti-clockwise. Swap legs.

8. Glute bridge pulses

a) Lie flat on the floor with your legs bent and a resistance band around your knees.

b) Drive through your heels to push your hips upwards as far as you can go. Pulse your hips knees out and back in again whilst engaging your glutes and core muscles.

9. Single-leg glute bridges

Same as the glute bridge, but on one leg.

a) Lie flat on the floor with your legs bent and a resistance band around your knees.

b) Drive through your heels to push your hips upwards as far as you can go. Raise one leg off the floor. Pulse your hips knees out and back in again whilst engaging your glutes and core muscles.

10. Fire hydrants

a) Start on all fours in a tabletop position, with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Make sure your back is straight and your core is engaged. Your resistance band should be around your knees.

b) With your weight distributed evenly between your hands, lift your right leg out to the side, keeping the knee bent at a right angle. Think about presenting the outside of your right knee to the ceiling.

c) Hold for two seconds, then slowly lower the leg back down to the starting position.

11. Plank jack

a) Start in plank position with your body should in a straight line from your head to your heels and your resistance band around your ankles.

b) Jump both feet out wide to each side, then jump them back together. Continue to do this while not letting your hips drop.

Try this glute band exercise workout

For a full resistance band glute workout follow Ciara's lead in the video above.

You'll do:

  • Squat hold with band

  • Squat jumps

  • Crab walks touchdowns

  • Side-kicks

  • Side to side squats

  • Squat mobility

  • Floor donkey kicks

  • Pelvic thrusts up and down

  • Pelvic thrusts open and close

All you'll need is a medium-strength resistance band, not so heavy you're unable to move once it's around your thighs and a yoga mat for cushioning on the floor-based movements.

The ratio of work to rest in this workout is 45 seconds work to 15 seconds rest. Some moves are repeated twice – so, for the side-kicks and donkey kicks, expect to do 30 seconds of work on each side before resting.

How often should I use glute bands?

'If you’re a beginner, I’d recommend a 3-5 minute mini band workout 5 days a week. The better you get, the more you can do,' says Wong. 'If you consider yourself intermediate to advanced, I’d suggest including mini band exercises in your normal workout plan 3-5 days per week to help with pre-activation or to target troubled areas.'

Are glute bands safe?

Much like all exercise equipment, misuse it and you risk injury. However, resistance band training poses less of a risk than, say, very heavy weight lifting.

And before you ask, yes, glutes bands can (very rarely) snap, but there tends to be two causes: poor quality bands and poor exercise execution (i.e. using the band for something other than its intended purpose).

Will glute band exercises help me lose weight?

Resistance bands alone won't help you lose body fat – that comes down to regular exercise, a nutritious diet and (safe) calorie deficit, looking after your sleep and stress and making sure to get enough NEAT exercise in, too. If doing glute band exercises makes up part of your regular exercise remit, well, more power to you.

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