How to Properly Perform The Banded Side Step

Banded side stepsโ€ฆ.ooooh so fancy and sexy! But really, there is an over-obsession with the banded side step exercise in the fitness community, yet most don’t really need to do this exercise if they are already healthy and strong as the maximum voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) for the gluteus medius in the exercise is not even at an adequate level for true strength gains (<40% MVIC). However, in the rehab setting, the banded side step and all of its variations (e.g. monster walks) are great for re-training proper movement patterns and neuromuscular control. Furthermore, bands are a great way to increase the MVIC in the exercise and challenge the patient even further. But all of this is only true if you perform this exercise correctly! In this article, you will learn our fool-proof method to perform the banded side step exercise correctly!


Stop Making These Mistakes With Your Banded Side Steps

In this [P]Rehab Youtube Series episode, Mike breaks down the common mistakes people make when performing resisted glute work with a band AKA your banded side step, and how to minimize these common mistakes!


Don’t You Dare Cheat With The Banded Side Step. Your Glutes Won’t Forgive You!

Various studies have looked at the banded side step exercise and its many variations such as the monster walk. All of these exercises have found relatively high gluteal action, making them a staple in many corrective exercise programs. However, itโ€™s really easy to do this exercise WRONG and completely miss the therapeutic intent of the exercise.


Keep constant tension on the band during the whole exercise. The moment you lose tension, you lose that extra gluteal activation you’re trying to get in the first place by incorporating the band. Also, the band is often more of a neuromuscular facilitator than actually adding any load or demand to the exercise, so losing tension means youโ€™ve just lost that tactile cue.


People love to cheat and use their quadratus lumborum and other trunk muscles during this exercise. Look at yourself in the mirror: does your pelvis move while doing this? It shouldn’t move at all. If you feel pain or stress in your low back while doing this exercise, you’re doing it wrong. I am an advocate for small, fast steps during this exercise, but you can also increase the magnitude of the movement and work on a bigger concentric/eccentric movement by slowing it down and taking larger steps. If you choose to do it this way, just make sure you are set with a smaller band to keep constant tension!


Do Your Hips Need Some Love? Let’s Give Them Some!

hip program the prehab guys

The hip is a foundational joint in the body important for optimal movement. Our low back, pelvis, and even lower extremity joints such as the knee and ankle are all influenced by the health of the hip! The Hip [P]Rehab Program is a physical therapist developed, step-by-step program that teaches you how to optimize your hip health. This 3-phase program will expose you to various hip and lower body strengthening and stabilization exercises supported by science. This program will bulletproof your hips for anything life throws at you! Learn more HERE!ย 


Banded Side Step: But Where Should I Put The Band?

Sample Hip [P]Rehab Program Exercise

There are many ways to progress the banded side step, but one of the simplest ways is to change the band position. The lower down the chain it goes, the larger the lever arm and thus the harder the exercise.

Around knees = EASIEST.

Around ankle = HARDER.

The lever arm creates a normal amount of torque at the knees for everyone who is concerned about it being too much to handle. We put more stress on our lateral ligaments during everyday functional tasks than the amount a band will place on the knees. Of course, if someone has something like an LCL sprain don’t place the band at the ankle, but for everyone else it is 100% fine!

Around foot = HARDEST.

Get some extra peroneal and lateral ankle muscle activation. Try to keep your toes pointed forward the whole time, don’t let them point in!



talking glutes bret contreras the prehab guys


Band Placement Around the Foot Vs Ankle: Which Is Better?

And when it comes to band placement on the banded side step, we know that if we move the band below the normal placement around the knees the exercise gets harder, but where exactly should we place the band? At the ankles? At the feet? A study found that TFL activation is higher with the band placement around the ankles in comparison to the feet. And here’s why. With the band placement around the feet it creates an internal rotation moment. This means that the band will try to pull your toes inward. In order to resist this, you have to push outwards. Most of the glutes are external rotators, whereas the TFL is an internal rotator. So the push outwards will result in significantly more gluteal activation in comparison to TFL activation! Put the band around your feet!!


Banded Side Step: Extra Peroneal Activation Anyone?

The peroneals are commonly found to be weak after an inversion ankle sprain. So you’re wondering, what’s some of the best [P]Rehab for an ankle sprain?? Peroneal strengthening!! The classic banded side step, with a band around the knees, is great for glute med activation. However, by changing the resistance band location to the forefoot (ie the balls of the foot), we can add a little PERONEUS LONGUS and BREVIS activation as well. The band will provide an external force on the forefoot into adduction, which you’ll have to counteract with an abduction force. Furthermore, by landing with the ankle in a plantarflexed and everted position, you must ECCENTRICALLY CONTROL movement into an inverted position using the peroneus longus. This eccentric peroneus longus control is EXACTLY what the muscle must do to prevent an inversion ankle sprain. Furthermore, with the band around the forefoot we have increased the lever arm for the glutes, so I can bet we’re getting more glute activation as well! Change up the classic banded side step and consider placing the theraband around the forefoot for increased glute and peroneus activation.



the best ankle sprain prevention exercises


Closing Thoughts

Big take home point from this article as with any time we exercise or move, ensure it is INTENTIONAL! If we “go through the motions” and are not actively thinking about WHY or HOW we should be moving, we won’t get anywhere with progress! With the banded side step exercise, ensure those glutes are screaming in agony, because if not, you simply are not doing them right!


Learn More Banded Side Step Variation Exercises!

hip program the prehab guys

The Hip [P]Rehab Program is a physical therapist developed, step-by-step program that teaches you how to optimize your hip health. This 3-phase program will expose you to various hip and lower body strengthening and stabilization exercises supported by science. This program will bulletproof your hips for anything life throws at you! Learn more HERE!ย 


Disclaimer – The content here is designed for information & education purposes only and is not intended for medical advice.

  • Kurt Cogswell
    Posted at 11:40h, 19 July Reply

    Could you please tell me the name of the bands you’re using in the “Stop Making These Mistakes….” video? Thanks.

    • Michael Lau
      Posted at 17:53h, 14 September Reply

      They are just mini bands from perform better!

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