In the past, I covered the importance of using elastic resistance to promote gluteal strength. Weakness in the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius is often cited as contributing to patellofemoral pain, IT band problems, hip pathology. and other conditions Furthermore, activating the glutes and minimizing tensor fascia lata (TFL) activation is preferential to avoid synergistic dominance with abduction exercises, thereby promoting better knee alignment.
Execution: Place a mini-band above the knees. Now, move into a split stance position with the right leg in front (bent 30-45 degrees), mild hip flexion and a neutral spine. The hands may be placed on the hips or held out in front of the chest.
Next, slowly step to the right leading with the right leg, while keeping the toes pointed straight ahead. Avoid externally rotating the lead leg/foot. As you move the left leg, aim to replace same the distance covered by the right foot to ensure the stance width is consistent. The feet should not touch during the exercise, and the trail foot should not drag along the ground.
Repeat this for 10 yards to the right, and then repeat stepping 10 yards back to the left. Perform 2-3 sets. Emphasis should be on quality movement, while avoiding an excessive weight transfer to the outer portion of the foot.
Progression: Move the band around the ankles to increase the lever arm. Next, you may increase the level of resistance by changing bands. Finally, consider one band above the knees and one at the ankles for advanced clientele.
Application: Many people struggle to activate their gluteal muscles while squatting, running, jumping or cutting. Turning on these muscles prior to more demanding tasks will help facilitate a more optimal neuromuscular firing pattern thereby improving alignment and reducing injury potential. Specifically, this exercise is effective in ACL injury prevention training.
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. This lateral stepping pattern can easily be added to the dynamic movement prep or even used as part of the normal training program.