Resistance bands come in many shapes and sizes, but one of the most popular in recent years has been closed-loop mini resistance bands — aka mini bands, glute bands, booty bands, and probably a few more monikers, if we had to guess. Mini bands have become particularly popular as a tool to amp up glute work, hence the booty-themed nicknames.
That’s all well and good, but it’s important to make sure you’re incorporating them properly when you do choose to use them. Tossing them around your ankles or above the knee for any and all exercises isn’t the most organized plan of attack. Tracey Mallett, creator of Pilates Barre on Demand, shared with us a selection of exercises that are well-served by the addition of a booty band.
1. Mini Band Bridge Walk
Mallett loves this band exercise for targeting the glutes and hamstrings. While it can be used as a warm-up in a lower-body workout, it’s also an excellent superset pairing with squats, lunges, step-ups or the glute blaster machine, or a killer finisher if you do them to failure at the end of your workout.
The move: Assume a bridge position — feet planted with legs together with a band around your ankles, knees bent to 90 degrees, and your hips elevated so only your head and shoulders are in contact with the floor (pictured above). Your arms should be straight and also in contact with the floor.
From here, step out first with your right foot to the side as far as you can, bring it back to the start, and repeat with your left foot. Once to each side equals one rep — aim for anywhere from 12-20 reps per set, 2-3 sets in total.
2. Mini Band Diamond Leg Abduction
An undiscovered gem among glute moves, this exercise could prove to be a girl’s best friend if your goal is polishing off those glutes and hamstrings near the tail end of a leg routine. “Due to your legs being in external rotation — turned out — it really works the rotator muscles in the glutes for an amazing lift in the booty,” Mallett says.
The move: Lie on your back with your knees bent with the soles of your feet together and your toes pointing down. (Check out a demonstration of a basic diamond glute bridge here.) Wrap the band around your thighs and then move your knees out so your legs form a narrow diamond position. Lift your hips into a bridge position, then abduct the legs out and keep the tension on the band. Pulse by lowering your hips up and down a slight distance for 12-20 reps per set, 2-3 sets in total.
3. Mini Band Quadruped Donkey Kick
“Hitting the glute medius, hamstrings, and abs, this is a truly classic exercise that never ceases to fail when it comes to increasing the burn,” Mallett says. “The band helps to keep the muscle firing in all phases.”
The move: Start in an all-fours quadruped position — balanced on your hands and feet, hips up in the air, elbows straight and knees just slightly bent. A circle band should be looped around the instep of both of your feet. From here, lift one leg upward behind you as high as you can against the band resistance, with the sole of that foot ascending toward the ceiling.
Pause for a one count at the top, then slowly lower that foot back to the floor. Repeat with the other leg. One lift of each leg equals one rep; aim for 12-15 reps, 2-3 sets.
4. Mini Band Quadruped Walk
While you’ll start off in the same position at the donkey kick, this exercise ups the ante by incorporating full-body movement for additional benefits. “It’s really is a total body exercise,” Mallett points out. “You not only work the glutes, but the upper body and core are active, too.”
The move: Assume the all-fours quadruped position, but this time with the band around your mid-thighs. Step forward with your right hand and foot, then follow with your left, moving down the floor. Focus on keeping tension on the band by pressing outward with your thighs. Choose a certain distance to travel, such as 20 or 30 feet, or do 15-20 reps, with one step with each arm and leg equaling one full rep.
5. Mini Band Double-Side Squat
“The band keeps the tension on the glutes and abductors all the time, which doesn’t happen during squats when you don’t use a band,” Mallett points out. “It’s a great way of adding more challenge to your regular squats.”
The move: From a standing position, wrap the band around your mid-calf. Keep your head up, core tight, knees and hips facing forward in a quarter squat, and hands out to your front in a “ready” position for balance. While maintaining the quarter squat, step out once to the right, then step again to go a little further out. Next, take one step to bring that right foot back to center, and repeat the double step out while in a quarter squat with your left foot. One double-step out to each side and back equals one rep — you can aim for 12-20 reps total, 2-3 sets.