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August 04, 2021 9 min read

The lateral band walk, also known as the miniband walk, is a resistance band exercise beloved in pro athletics, bodybuilding, and pilates alike. What exactly is it about this exercise that makes it so popular?

To help answer that question, Steel Supplements is sharing everything you need to know about lateral band walks, including proper technique, the benefits, and different variations.

By the end of reading this, you will understand why fitness pros swear by this exercise! Here is everything you need to know to get started with lateral band walks.

Muscles Worked

Lateral band walks primarily target and strengthen the hip abductor muscle group. The exercise strengthens and tones these muscles that line the hips and glutes.

didactic board of anatomy of leg human muscular system

The hip abductors have three primary mover muscles, including:

  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Tensor fasciae latae

First off, the glute medius is perhaps the most important of all the hip muscles. Not only is it the primary mover muscle in lateral band walking, but it also assists with pelvic stability, flexion of the hips, and extension of the hips. Consistent activation of the glute medius is essential for an overall healthy body.

Second, the glute minimus is the smallest of the gluteal muscles. In lateral band walks, it assists the glute med with abduction while keeping the hips stable. Stable hips allow you to laterally move your legs while keeping your pelvis and upper body facing forward.

Lastly, the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) is a fusiform muscle that overlays the glute med and glute min. It is a hip synergist muscle. Hip synergist muscles are those muscles in the hips that help the primary mover muscles contract more smoothly.

Moreover, the TFL allows your glute med and glute min to function with ease. In addition to these three hip muscles, band walks also require work from your core for stabilization and quads to help initiate the side steps.

Lateral Band Walk Benefit

Like we mentioned above, all different types of fitness pros love lateral band walks. Now, we will unravel the benefits of this famous exercise to help explain why everyone loves it so much. Here are some of the top benefits of lateral band walks:

1. Strengthening the glute and hip muscles

Lateral band walks are a fantastic strength training exercises for the glute and hip muscles. As we mentioned above, lateral walks target the hip abductor muscles located in your hips and glutes.The glutes and hips are two of the most underestimated muscle groups in your body. Most people don't realize how important they are to strengthen. They are essential for several reasons, including:

  • Helping keep the lower back straight
  • Maintaining proper body alignment
  • Coordinating dynamic body movements

So, not only does having powerful hips and glutes make your body look good, but they're also essential for an overall healthy and well-functioning body.

2. Reduces hip and back pain

Are you one of the many people struggling with back pain? Back pain is one of the most common chronic conditions that send people to the sports medicine doctor or physical therapist. However, that pain can sometimes be prevented and cured by strengthening the hip abductors with lateral walks.

In addition to initiating movements from the hip joint, the hip muscles also help stabilize and align the entire body. When they are weak, the lower back overcompensates for that weakness. As a result, the lower back starts to hurt. However, this can be avoided by simply increasing the strength of the hip muscles.

3. Stabilizes the entire body

One of the roles of the hips is to help stabilize the body during dynamic body movements. The hips work alongside the core muscles to hold the body upright and keep it together.  If your hips are weak, it isn't as easy to keep your upper body stable while moving around. Thankfully, lateral band walks strengthen the hips to reinforce good stabilization.

4. Improves back posture

The hips sit at the base of the lower spine. The lower spine is the base of your entire back and needs to be healthy to maintain health in the middle and upper back. When you have strong hip muscles, your lower back becomes healthier.

The healthier your lower back is, the more your entire back lengthens and stretches to its fullest extent.The longer your spine is, the better your posture becomes. Having good posture has several positive effects, including:

  • Making you appear more confident
  • Reducing the odds of developing osteoarthritis or other age-related joint problems
  • Reducing the odds of getting injured

5. Reduces knee valgus

Have you ever done a squat and noticed that your knees were caving in towards the midline of your body? If so, you may be struggling with knee valgus.

Knee valgus is a common condition that affects people with weak hip muscles. The simple answer to getting rid of knee valgus is to do exercises that strengthen the hips, such as lateral band walks.

6. Improves athletic performance

One of the hip muscles' jobs is to initiate lower body movements from the hip joint. Those movements include everything from walking and running to jumping. Essentially, any leg movement relevant to athletics is thanks to work done by the hips. 

Therefore, it is crucial to strengthen the hips if you want to improve your athletic performance. With strong hips, the muscles will do a better job at initiating those lower-body movements. As a result, you will become a faster runner, higher jumper, and an overall better athlete.

Lateral Band Walk Technique

Now without further ado, here is how to do lateral band walks! We suggest integrating this exercise into your existing lower body workout or resistance band workout. Before getting started, you need the correct looped resistance band. Resistance bands usually come in different levels of tension. If you have never done lateral walks before, start with a band that has mild tension.

If you do the exercise and the band feels either too tense or not tense enough, feel free to stop and change resistance bands. Also, if you don't have a looped resistance band available, you can take a regular one and tie the ends in a knot.

Here is how to do lateral band walks with the proper form:

  1. Wrap the looped band just above both of your ankles. Step your feet out to about shoulder-width apart, or until there is tension in the band.
  1. Get into an athletic stance with your knees slightly bent, hips hinged forward about 45-degrees, and hands on your hips.
  1. Keeping your upper body facing forward, take one step to the right with your right foot. Feel the tension in your right hip, then slowly step your left foot to the right so that your feet return to shoulder-width apart.
  1. Take ten steps to the right with your right foot leading.  Then, switch directions and take ten steps to the left with your left foot leading.

As you do the exercise, make sure that your upper body, hips, and knees all stay facing forward. Also, make sure to take a step outwards directly from your hip joint. As you step, your foot should be in line with your hips and the rest of your body.

Top Lateral Band Walk Variations

While band walks are a fantastic exercise, you can't spend an entire workout doing them alone. However, you can put a workout together that includes traditional lateral band walks and band walk variations.

These variations generally have the same benefits as the regular band walk, but they also challenge the hip and glute muscles in unique ways.Here are some of the top lateral band walk variations:

1. Monster Walks

The easiest way to make lateral band walks more challenging is to double up the resistance. That is what monster walks do! Instead of just one band around the ankles, you have a second one above the knees. With two bands, your hips have to do double the amount of work. Take one looped resistance band and place it just above your knee caps.

Then, place a second resistance band right above your ankles just as you would for regular band walks. When you're ready, get into an athletic stance and take ten steps to the right with the right leg leading. Follow that up by taking ten steps to the left with the left leg. By the end of the set, you should feel an intense burn in your abductors!

2. X-band Walks

X-band walks have all the benefits of lateral band walks, but they also add some extra work for your core muscles.Grab a looped resistance band and step both of your feet on top of it about hip-width apart. Grab the other end of the resistance band with both hands and hold it at waist height. Twist the middle of the resistance band so that it forms an X shape.

There should be tension in your core to keep the resistance band by your waist. When you're ready, do just as you would for lateral walks and take ten steps to the right. Follow that up with ten steps to the left. As you do the exercise, challenge your core by holding the band tight by your waist.

3. Resistance Band Lateral Leg Lifts

Wrap a looped resistance band right above your ankles. Spread your feet to shoulder-width apart or until there is mild tension in the resistance band. Place both of your hands on your hips. When you're ready, exhale and lift your right foot straight up and out from the hip joint.

Maintain balance on your left foot by squeezing your core muscles. Lift your right foot as high as it can go, then slowly lower it back to starting position. Do ten lifts with the right leg, then repeat with the left leg.

Other Hip Abductor Exercises

If you want to improve your hip strength to get better at band walks, give these additional hip abductor exercises a try!

1. Glute Bridges

Glute bridges are a classic bodyweight exercise targeting the hips, glutes, and hamstrings. They are an essential exercise for any lower body workout! Lay flat on your back with your feet pulled in towards your glutes so that your knees bend to 90-degrees.

man doing bodyweight glute bridge off the floor

Rest your arms by your sides. When you're ready, exhale and press into your heels to lift your glutes off the floor. Lift them until you create one long line from your knees to your chest. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the bridge, then slowly lower back to the floor and repeat!

2. Clamshells

Clamshells are one of the best exercises for your gluteus medius. Therefore, they are an excellent exercise to cross-train for band walks! Lay on the right side of your body and create one long line from your head to your toes. Prop your head in your right hand, hold your left hand on your left hip, and press your knees in front of your body. 

Your knees should bend to 90-degrees. While your knees press forward, keep your feet in line with your hips. When you're ready, exhale and slowly lift your left knee off your right knee while keeping your toes together. Open your knee as far as you can while keeping your upper body facing forward - do not rotate your upper body!

Squeeze your glutes with your knee open, then slowly lower back to starting and repeat! You will know you are doing this right if your legs look like an opening clamshell.

3. Lying Lateral Leg Raises

Lay on the right side of your body and create one long line from your head to your toes. Rest your head on your extended right arm and place your left arm on your left hip. Your hips should stack on top of one another. When you're ready, keep your top left leg straight and laterally raise it in the air.

Lift your leg until you feel a pinch in your left hip while keeping your upper body facing forward. Squeeze your hips at the top, then slowly lower your left leg back to starting position. Do ten to twenty repetitions lying on the right side, then switch to lying on the left side.

4. Fire Hydrants

Fire hydrants are a classic pilates exercise that look simple but burn the hips and glutes! Specifically, they target the gluteus maximus, medius, and tensor fascia latae. They are one the overall best exercises for the hip and glute region. Get on your hands and knees on a soft, flat surface. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders, your knees underneath your hips, and your spine neutral.

When you're ready, exhale and slowly lift your right knee off the floor and straight out to the side. Keep your knee at a 90-degree angle as you lift it. Lift the knee until it comes close to hip height, then slowly lower it back to starting position. Do ten to twelve reps lifting your right knee, then switch to lifting the left knee.

5. Resistance Band Jumping Jacks

Last but not least, resistance band jumping jacks combine resistance training with cardio. They work your hip muscles while boosting your heart rate, making them an ideal exercise for weight loss.

Step inside of a tight looped resistance band and wrap it around your calves. Step your feet out to shoulder-width apart, or until there is tension in the resistance band.

When you're ready, jump both of your feet out to a wide stance while lifting your arms over your head. Then, jump your feet back to shoulder-width distance and lower your arms to your sides. Speed the movement up just as you would for regular jumping jacks!

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that you need to get lateral band walks into your workout routine. All of the fitness pros swear by it, and so do we!

If you want to get ripped hips and glutes to build an overall stronger and more stable body, then look no further. Get going on lateral walks today and be like the pros!

Bonus tip: Can't get enough of resistance band exercises? Check out our top 15 favorite resistance band exercises to put together a complete workout!