Banded side steps….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!


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, it’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 you’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!


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Hip Prehab 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!


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!


glutes bret contreras the prehab guys banded side step exercise



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!


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!!


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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 banded side step


Closing Thoughts

The big take-home point from this article is 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 About How To Build Bulletproof Hips

Hip Prehab Program The Prehab Guys banded side step

To go from stepping to sitting we can thank the 27 muscles that cross the hip joint for their work. After thanking them, we should also thank your core, knees, feet, and really the rest of your movement system as they work together on a team to create movement. Perhaps, the best way to thank them is by giving them what they desire: strength and power!


About The Author

Michael Lau, PT, DPT, CSCS

[P]rehab Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

Michael was born and raised in Northern California but now currently resides in Sunny SoCal ever since attending the University of California, Los Angeles as an undergraduate majoring in physiology. After his undergraduate studies, he received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from cross-town rival the University of Southern California. As a licensed physical therapist with a strong background in strength and conditioning, Michael likes to blend the realms of strength training and rehabilitation to provide prehab, or preventative rehabilitation, to his patients. A common human behavior is to address problems after they become an issue and far often too late, which is a reactionary approach. He believes the key to improved health care is education and awareness. This proactive approach-prehab-can reduce the risk of injuries and pain in the first place. He is a huge proponent of movement education and pain science. Clinically, he has a special interest in ACLR rehab and return to sport for the lower extremity athlete.






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

About the author : Michael Lau PT, DPT, CSCS


  1. Kurt Cogswell July 19, 2020 at 11:40 am

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

  2. Dube April 1, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    Should feet be parallel during side steps and monster walks or slightly pronated? I have flat feet and over pronation and notice some slight pain in my Achilles when parallel.

    • Team [P]rehab April 4, 2022 at 8:51 am

      Hi Dube!

      Excellent question! Parallel if able, but try to pay more attention to engaging your hips and keeping tension on the band the ENTIRE time you are doing the sidesteps. This will ensure maximal activation of the hip muscles!


      Team [P]rehab

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