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The glutes

It is a muscle group that many of us want to work on for…well…aesthetic reasons. Whether we want to make it bigger or smaller, rounder or firmer, most of us want to change it.

It is also a muscle group that most of us SHOULD be giving more attention and love to because it isn’t firing as efficiently or effectively as it should be!

When our glutes are underactive, we may not be getting the full benefit of all of those squats and deadlifts and lunges we are doing!

Ever noticed your quads seem to grow but your glutes don’t change?

Or maybe you’ve noticed that you all too often only feel your lower back and hamstrings working NOT your glutes?

When our glutes aren’t firing efficiently, we recruit other muscles to carry the load. Not only does this mean we aren’t actually WORKING our glutes as well as we could be…so all of those moves we are TRYING to do to change them aren’t going to pay off, but we also increase our risk of injury because other muscles, that really can’t handle the load, take over.

That is why it is so important to get your glutes activated and firing BEFORE your lifting session, runs or rides!

Here are 10 Mini Band Moves to get your glutes activated and help you build a better, stronger!, butt. These moves will work your butt from every angle to get your glute maximus and glute medius working especially!

10 Mini Band Moves You Should Be Doing To Activate Your Glutes

1. 3-Way Seated Abductions – This is a great move to target your glute medius and even hit different aspects of the muscle. Small adjustments to the exact amount of HIP FLEXION we sit in can not only impact HOW we work the muscle, but even how well we are personally able to activate it.

While you want to try to use all 3 positions, if you only feel your glutes during one, or even two, of the postures, start with only those until you’re able to feel your glutes working during all three! You may even find by simply starting with the one you feel the most, you are then able to feel your glutes during the others!

To do 3-Way Seated Mini Band Abductions, place the mini band right below your knees and sit on a bench. Start by sitting toward the front of the bench so you can lean back and put your hands on the bench behind you. Place your feet about hip-width apart.

Then press your knees open against the band as you lean back. Your feet may rock open but focus on using your glutes to press the band open with your knees. Do not let your knees cave in as you come back to the starting position. Complete all reps then move to sit up nice and tall.

Sitting nice and tall repeat, pressing out with your knees so you feel your glutes working. After completing all reps, lean forward and repeat the movement. You can hold on the bench outside your legs to lean forward or just lean over even lightly resting your arms on your legs.

Complete all reps in each of the 3 positions. Make sure you’re really focused on pressing your knees out to feel your glutes while controlling the band back in. To reduce tension, you can start with a lighter band or put your feet slightly closer together, but make sure there is tension on the band even in that starting position.

seated abduction glute exercise

2. Mini Band Glute Bridges – Using the mini band during glute bridges is a great way to activate your glute medius, which in turn, can help you better activate your glute maximus. If you struggle to feel your glutes during the basic bridge, add the mini band!

single leg glute bridge

To advance the basic two leg glute bridge move, you can do a single leg glute bridge. Only do the single leg glute bridge if you can get your hips up as high as you did during the two-leg glute bridge. If you struggle to control a full range of motion, you may even do an 80/20 version.

This 80/20 version is a great way to get the unilateral benefits of a single leg bridge BUT with an “assist” from that other leg to reduce the resistance.

To do the 80/20 Glute Bridge, place a mini band right below your knees and lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Then slide one leg out and away a bit from your butt and lift your toes. This foot should be about at the instep to toe of your other foot. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and drive your upper arms into the ground. Posteriorly tilt your pelvis if needed then bridge up.

When you bridge up, you will be driving primarily off the foot flat on the ground, using the other foot for assistance so you can make sure to feel your glutes driving the move. Make sure your hips, knees and ankles all stay in line as you bridge up and lower down. Do not let your knees cave in with the band. Press out against the band the entire time.

Lower down and repeat the bridge on that side until all reps are complete. Then switch and move the other foot out, driving only through the heel so you can focus on bridging with your other side. This variation can help you make sure you can properly perform a more unilateral bridge!

80-20 glute bridge

3. Mini Band Hip Thrusters – Another great bridge to include to improve your hip extension and activate your glutes is the Hip Thruster using a mini band. AND if you’re looking to include more weighted glute work into your routine, try a mini band hip thruster WITH a barbell even!

To do Mini Band Hip Thrusters, place the mini band right below your knees to make it harder and right above to make it easier. Lie with your back on a bench and feet about hip-width to shoulder-width apart. Press out on the band. Don’t let your knees cave in.

Then bridge up, driving through your heels and upper back on the bench. Make sure to press out on the band as you bridge up. Keep your abs engaged with a pelvic tilt so you don’t hyperextend your back at the top. Pause and engage those glutes then lower back down and repeat. Even slightly tuck your chin to look down at your knees to help engage your abs more.

Feel your glutes working and do not let your knees cave in at any point. Keep constant tension on the band.

mini band hip thrusts

4. Side Shuffle – This is an oldie, but goodie! You don’t need to get down on the ground and it will get your blood pumping as you activate your glute medius. Just make sure your TFL or Tensor Fasciae Latae doesn’t take over!! If you feel yourself constantly rubbing the front sides of your hips and NOT the side of your butt, it may be time to adjust this move. If you have issues with an overactive TFL, these tips will help as the TFL can be a “nasty little sucker!”

To do the Mini Band Side Shuffle, place the band around both legs. If you place right below or above your knees, the move will be “easier.” This placement is key if you do feel your TFL compensating! If you place it around your ankles, or even your feet, the move will be more difficult.

Set your feet wide enough apart that there is tension on the band. Both of your feet should both be pointing forward and your feet should be parallel. Step laterally, out to the side, with one foot and then step in with the other foot, bring that back foot toward your front foot without losing tension.

Always keep tension on the band when you are stepping and don’t let the feet come together. Every time you step, try to step as far apart as possible to really work the glutes, BUT do not do so at the expense of your knees caving in. Do not drag the back foot when you step back in. Also try not to rock as you shuffle.

side band walks

5. Monster Steps – This is another staple movement that is perfect to pair with the Side Shuffle. It will have you grabbing your glutes because they’ll BURN!

To do Monster Walks or Steps, place the band around both legs. Step out wide so your feet are between hip-width and shoulder-width apart. You want to really put tension on the band.

Step forward and slightly out to the side with one foot. Then step forward and out to the side with the other foot. You want to take big “monster” steps, keeping your feet as wide apart as you can while moving forward. Do not waddle though. You want to keep your hips facing forward and really step.

Then walk backwards in the same manner. You can do both a low monster walk (more of a squat) and a straighter leg monster walk. The squat will NOT work your glutes more but can add in more quad work if you want.

band walks

Ready for some amazing Booty Burner activation series using these moves? Check out my 28-Day Booty Burner Challenge! All workouts are under 10 minutes!

6. Lying Jacks – Work on your hip extension as you activate your glute medius. Make sure that as you work to extend your hips and engage your glute maximus that you do NOT let your lower back compensate!

While just another “abduction move,” it’s a different position than the seated variations or even that basic clam move. So not only can we target a different aspect of the muscle, but we can make sure our glutes are strong  through a full range of motion!

To do Lying Jacks, place a mini band right below your knees and lie face down on a bench with your hips right on the edge of the bench. To make the move easier, place the mini band above your knees. To make it harder, move it down toward your ankles.

Then engage your glutes to lift your legs up to about parallel to the ground with your legs together. Press your hips down into the bench and make sure that you don’t hyperextend your lower back. Better to have your hips slightly flexed and legs below parallel then to arch your back just to keep your legs up higher.

Holding this position, press your legs open against the band and feel the outside of your glutes working. Then in a controlled fashion, bring your legs back together. You can change the range of motion, bringing them all the way back together or pulsing at the end range of motion for even more of a pump.

If you feel your hips trying to engage you can rotate your toes slightly in or even try squeezing your butt to raise your legs up a bit as you press open.

lying glute activation

7. Two-Way Taps – This is a great way to activate your glutes without getting down on the ground. It’s perfect too if you have knee pain and want to work your legs while avoiding a ton of active knee flexion. Also, if you have any imbalances, this unilaterally focused move is the perfect way to work to correct them!

Another added bonus is that it is both a lateral raise and a “kickback” movement!

To do Two-Way Taps, place a band right above your knees and stand with your feet no more than a couple of inches apart. You just don’t want the band to slide down.

Bend your knees and hinge slightly at the hips to push your butt back as you sink into a very little squat. Do not round over. You are just engaging your legs but not trying to sink to parallel.

Then shift your weight onto one leg. Extend the other leg back behind you, reaching the toe back as far as you can as if you are going to lunge back. Do not shift your weight from that standing leg. You can just barely touch the toe behind you, although you don’t want to rest any weight on that back leg.

Bring the foot back in and, very briefly tap the toe before reaching that leg out to the side. You will tap your toe lightly, but you don’t want to shift your weight onto that leg. Make sure as you reach out to the side, you press out against that band.

Then bring the leg back center and place the foot down to switch to the other side, first touching back before tapping out to the side.

standing glute activation

8. Mini Band Reverse Hypers – Reverse hypers are an amazing hip hyperextension exercise that work your glute max. By adding in the band, you can also engage your glute medius and help yourself better activate your glutes if your lower back tends to want to take over during this exercise!

To do Mini Band Reverse Hypers, place a band right below or above your knees. Lie face down on a bench with your hips right at the edge of the bench. Grab onto the bench and place your heels together and toes turned out.

While you don’t need to externally rotate your hips, this can help with glute activation. Just be careful with this if you’ve struggled with piriformis issues in the past.

Bend your knees, bringing them in toward the bench, pressing out against the band.

Then kick your legs out, driving your heels toward the wall behind you as you press your hips down into the bench.

Press out on the band as your legs go straight. Squeeze your glutes to extend your hips then bring your knees back in and repeat. Press out on the band as you bend your knees.

Press your hips down into the bench and focus on extending your hips, using your glutes. Do not let your low back take over.

reverse hypers

9. Mini Band Quadruped Straight Leg Lifts – Quadruped moves are a great way to work your core as you activate your glutes. And this unilateral move will allow you to target each side independently to correct any imbalances. Remember, if you have pain on one side, or a previous injury on one side, you may need to do IMBALANCED REHAB to address it!

To do the Quadruped Straight Leg Lifts, place a mini band around the foot you will keep flexed on the ground and the ankle of the leg you are going to work. Set up on your hands and knees with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Your feet should be flexed.

Straighten the leg with the mini band around the ankle out behind you. Keeping your foot flexed, lift your straight leg up toward the ceiling. Squeeze your glute and lift your leg until it is parallel to the ground. Only lift higher if you feel your glute working and not your low back. Lower the leg back down to the ground and repeat. Lift the leg straight up and squeeze the glute at the top.

Hold for a second or two and repeat. Complete all reps on one side before switching. Make sure to keep your hips square to the ground as you lift. Also, do not bend your arms.

mini band quadruped straight leg lift

10. Mini Band Side Step Squats – Work your glutes as well as your legs with this squat variation. Especially if you struggle to engage your glutes during squat movements, this can be great move to include before using weights.

This move will also really get your blood pumping, which makes it an ideal exercise to use in your warm up!

To do Mini Band Side Step Squats, start standing tall with the mini band right below your knees and your feet a few inches apart. To make the move easier, use a lighter resistance or place the band above your knees. Then step out to one side so your feet are about shoulder-width apart and squat down. Make sure to sit back and keep your chest up. Make sure you also press out against the band. You don’t want your knees to cave in.

Squat down then stand up and step your feet back together. Then step out to the other side and squat down. Alternate stepping out to each side and squatting down. Do not step out too wide and make sure to press your knees out against the band.

mini band side step squat

Ten great moves to help you get great glutes! All you need is a small little $3 mini band. Here are the mini bands I used for these moves.

These moves can be used as part of a great warm up for your leg day workout or as a workout all on their own!