Your glutes, which consist of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, are the largest muscle group in the body. And while strengthening them is very important, you don’t always need a loaded barbell or heavy dumbbells to do so. A glute band workout that uses just one small resistance loop can start a fire under (or, more accurately, in) your butt, making you a more powerful runner.
Benefits of a glute band workout for runners
“Stronger glutes help generate more power and speed,” Raj Hathiramanicertified running coach Mile High Running Club in New York, says Runner’s world. Whether you’re tackling a hill or picking up the pace on the home stretch of a race, your glutes are largely responsible for your forward propulsion. Equally important, they also help protect against common running injuries.
“Your glutes, centered around the pelvis, allow for a more stable base, which is essential for the way you move, especially when running turns, hills and trails,” says Hathiramani. “Weak glutes not only put more strain on your quadriceps, but they also lead to hip misalignment and anterior pelvic tilt, often leading to knee, hip, and IT band injuries.”
Hathiramani recommends adding the following glute band workout to your current strength training plan to avoid the consequences of a weak back. “This training will allow you to reap the benefits of better form when running, as well as the ability to run faster with fewer injuries along the way,” he says. While most exercises are effective as bodyweight movements, a medium or heavy mini band adds a surprising amount of resistance that you’ll feel within a few repetitions.
How to use this list: Do each exercise below with a small resistance band wrapped around your thighs just above your knees, performing as many reps as described below. Do the movements in a circuit for 3 sets, resting 15 seconds between exercises and 1 minute between sets. Each move is demonstrated by Hathiramani in the video above so you can master the proper form. A small resistance band and an exercise mat are required.
1. Lateral step
Why it works: Walking laterally can help prevent knee and IT band injuries by strengthening the muscles of the hips and glutes, especially the gluteus medius, which can be difficult to target.
How to do: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, chest up, hands on your hips. Take 10 steps to the right maintaining tension on the band, then take 10 steps to the left. Repeat for 1 minute.
2. The standing buttocks
Why it works: In addition to stimulating the glutes, rebound exercises help improve stability and form by challenging your balance and focusing on range of motion.
How to do: Stand with feet hip-width apart, shift weight to left foot, right foot slightly offset behind left, hands on hips. Keeping your legs straight and chest up, kick your right leg behind you, without arching your lower back – keep your core tight. Take it back down. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
3. Side Lift Squat
Why it works: This compound movement targets almost every muscle involved in running, says Hathiramani. “The squat to the side lift engages and strengthens your core as you activate your glutes and surrounding muscles, such as your quadriceps and hips.”
How to do: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands in front of your chest. Send the hips down and back and bend the knees to lower yourself into a squat. Cross the feet to stand up, then immediately lift the right leg out to the side with the foot bent. Return the right foot to the floor and lower the hips into another squat. Straighten up and immediately lift the left leg out to the side, then return the foot to the floor. Repeat the entire movement, alternating legs, for a total of 20 reps.
Why it works: Seashells are a pre-hab staple, which means they fight injuries, for a reason. “Shells incorporate spine and core mobility, as well as hip stability,” says Hathiramani. “They help prevent knee, hip and computer band injuries.”
How to do: Lie on your right side with your right forearm on the floor, elbow directly below your shoulder. Bend the knees, stack the legs, including the knees and ankles, and lift the hips off the floor. Hold this starting position. Rotate the left hip outward, engage the glutes, and pull the left knee toward the ceiling to open the legs like a shell. Keep your feet together. Slowly lower the knee. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
5. Fire hydrant
Why it works: By strengthening the gluteus maximus, hydrants improve hip extension, which is essential for running, especially when climbing hills.
How to do: Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Engage the core and lift the left knee up and out, away from the body, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees. Try not to lean to the right. Lower the leg down. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
6. One-leg glute bridge
Why it works: Single leg glute bridges can help prevent back pain and piriformis syndrome by strengthening the core, hips and hamstrings.
How to do: Lie face up with arms by sides, palms down, knees bent and feet planted. Lift the left foot off the floor and extend the leg toward the ceiling. This is the starting position. Engage the glutes and drive the right foot into the floor to lift the hips. Slowly lower your back to the starting position. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
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