Your glutes, which consist of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, are the largest muscle group in the body. And while they’re super important to strengthen, 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 light a fire under (or, more accurately, in) your butt, making you a more powerful runner.
The Benefits of a Glute Band Workout for Runners
“Stronger glutes help generate more power and speed,” Raj Hathiramani, certified running coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, tells Runner’s World. Whether you’re tackling a hill or picking up the pace in the final stretch of a race, your glutes are largely responsible for propelling you forward. Just as importantly, they also help safeguard against common running injuries.
“Your gluteal muscles, centered around the pelvis, enable a more stable foundation, which is critical for how you move, especially when running turns, hills, and trails,” Hathiramani says. “Weak glutes not only place more strain on your quads, but they also lead to hip misalignment and an anterior pelvic tilt, often resulting in 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 backside. “This workout will allow you to reap the benefits of better form when you run, as well as the ability to run faster with fewer injuries along the way,” he says. While most of the exercises are effective as bodyweight movements, a medium or heavy mini band adds a surprising amount of resistance that you’ll feel within just a few reps.
How to use this list: Do each exercise below with a small resistance band looped around your thighs just above the knees, performing as many reps as described below. Do the movements as 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 Walk
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, chest up, hands on hips. Take 10 steps to the right, maintaining tension on the band, then take 10 steps to the left. Repeat for 1 minute.
2. Standing Glute Kick Back
Why it works: In addition to firing up the glutes, kick-back exercises help improve stability and form by challenging your balance and focusing on range of motion.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, shift weight to left foot, right foot slightly staggered behind left, hands on hips. Keeping legs straight and chest up, kick right leg back behind you, without arching low back—keep core tight. Lower it back down. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
3. Squat to Lateral Lift
Why it works: This compound movement targets nearly every muscle involved in running, explains Hathiramani. “The squat to lateral lift engages and strengthens your core as you activate your glutes and surrounding muscles, such as your quads and hips.”
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands in front of chest. Send hips down and back and bend knees to lower into a squat. Drive through feet to stand back up, then immediately lift right leg out to the side, foot flexed. Place right foot back on ground and lower hips into another squat. Stand back up, and immediately lift left leg out to the side, then that place foot back on ground. Repeat entire movement, alternating legs, for 20 reps total.
Why it works: Clamshells are a pre-hab staple—meaning they fight off injury—for a reason. “Clamshells incorporate spine and core mobility, as well as hip stability,” Hathiramani says. “They help prevent knee, hip, and IT band injuries.”
How to do it: Lie on right side with right forearm on the ground, elbow directly under shoulder. Bend knees, stack legs including knees and ankles, and lift hips off the ground. Hold in this starting position. Externally rotate left hip, engaging glute and drawing left knee up toward ceiling to open legs like a clamshell. Keep feet together. Slowly lower knee. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
5. Fire Hydrant
Why it works: By strengthening the gluteus maximus, fire hydrants improve hip extension, which is critical to running, especially driving up a hill.
How to do it: Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Engage core and lift left knee up and out to the side, away from body, keeping knee bent 90 degrees. Try not to lean to the right. Lower leg back down. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
6. Single-Leg Glute Bridge
How to do it: Lie faceup with arms down by sides, palms facing down, knees bent, and feet planted. Lift left foot off the ground and straighten leg toward ceiling. This is the starting position. Engage glutes and drive right foot into the ground to lift hips up. Slowly lower back down to the starting position. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.