In the February 2013 Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy the sidestep with resistance ranked second on the list. In particular, this exercise had one of the lowest TFL activations thereby raising its gluteal to TFL index score.

It is a common exercise and one that is easy to incorporate in training, but can be viewed as a progression from the clamshell given that it is weight bearing.


Begin in a squat position with the elastic band around the thighs just above the knees. Feet are positioned shoulder width apart and facing forward with the kneecap in line with the second toe.

In the study, participants were instructed to step to the left replacing 50% of the distance between the feet in the start position and follow with the right leg also stepping at this 50% increment. This was then repeated to the right to return to the starting position for a total of 3 cycles.

In my practice, I typically have clients sidestep for 10 yards in one direction (using the 50% rule) and then repeat moving back to the other side for 10 yards. The focus should be on keeping the toes forward and the hips square. Do not allow clients to stand tall or drag the feet on the ground. As fatigue sets in, they may also tend to step more than 50% to reduce tension on the band.


This is a great exercise to encourage gluteal activation during a dynamic movement preparation series/warm-up before engaging in higher level training exercises. It reinforces proper frontal plane mechanics and can be used with clients and athletes to reduce anterior knee pain and injury risk. To increase resistance and/or difficulty, bands can be moved to the ankles or a band can be applied above the knees and at the ankle.

Additional variation:
Another option is to perform the sidestep exercise with a staggered stance. For example, lead with the right leg forward moving to the right and vice versa. Again, small steps replacing 50% of the original stance is best to ensure quality work.

Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor at the Athletic Performance Center in Raleigh, NC. Brian presents nationally at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more cutting edge training information, subscribe to his monthly Training & Sports Medicine Update at