In my last column, I talked about foam rolling the TFL and how it can be synergistically dominant over the gluteus medius. This exercise addresses how to activate the gluteal muscles prior to engaging in higher demand movement and training to optimize biomechanics.
    Place a mini-band above the knees. Position the feet about shoulder width apart while shifting the weight toward the balls of the feet. Next, slowly push the knees outward and away from one another. Pause, and then slowly return to the start position. Perform 2 sets of 10-15 repetitions. Emphasis should be on quality movement, while avoiding an excessive weight transfer to the outer portion of the foot.

    The next progression is a single leg rotation. The start position is the same, however, now one leg remains still as the other leg moves outward and inward. Perform 10-15 active rotations on the right leg and then switch legs. Complete 2 sets on each side. Be sure to keep the stationary leg still while maintaining a neutral spine position throughout. The cadence for this exercise should be 1/1/1. Advanced users may opt to add a second band around the ankles for added resistance.

    Many people struggle to activate their gluteal muscles while running, jumping or performing athletic activities. Turning on these muscles and "priming" the body to utilize the glutes in its normal neuromuscular programming is helpful in improving alignment and reducing injury potential. The band rotation exercises cue external rotation with the resistance pulling the knees toward one another.

    Activating these muscles prior to doing multi-joint lifts, sprinting, plyometrics, etc. is beneficial in promoting optimal activation/stabilization in order to control excessive pronation with deceleration and eccentric training. The rotations can easily be added to the dynamic movement prep or even used as part of the normal training program. I also like to use them prior to incorporating side stepping and forward/backward walks with the bands.

    Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor for Athletes' Performance at Raleigh Orthopaedic in Raleigh, NC. Brian conducts live continuing education webinars and presents nationally at professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more information on his products and services, visit