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Form: Banded Donkey Kickback
Squats, lunges and good mornings are leg day must-haves, but though they do engage the glutes, they don’t really emphasize them over the quads and hamstrings. A banded donkey kickback provides that unique stimulus, building your butt and balancing out your gains on both sides. You can use a cable machine for this move, but a band offers an added bonus: You’ll get more resistance at the top when the band is fully stretched, amping the intensity just at the point that your hamstrings are the least involved and the glutes are the most engaged.
- Attach a resistance band around a rig or another stable object at floor height by looping it through itself, and secure the other handle around the arch of one foot. Stand facing the object and hold lightly onto it for stability. Don’t pull on it or use it to create momentum, or you’ll detract from the focus of the exercise.
- Hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat to get into a tabletop position, with your torso parallel or nearly so with the floor. This allows you to activate your glutes through a greater range of motion than if you were standing upright.
- Lift your working knee in toward your chest, then extend your leg backward and slightly upward until your leg is parallel or nearly so with the floor. Keep your knee slightly bent, even at the top, to keep the tension on the glutes and reduce hamstring involvement. Squeeze your glutes to get your leg as high as possible and then control the move back down.
- Imagine driving the hipbone of your working leg toward your opposite foot. This helps keep your hips level, maintaining gluteal tension while protecting your lower back.
- Brace your core to keep your back from arching, especially at the top of the move to maintain focus on the glutes without involving your lower back.
Sample FORM Glute Workout
Since the banded donkey kickback targets the gluteus maximus (hip extension and hyperextension), include moves that tax the gluteus medius (abduction and external rotation) like clamshells or banded monster walks to round out your posterior in the same workout.
Sample function Glute Workout
Target power, endurance and metabolic conditioning with this glute-centric circuit. Do these moves in order, and rest no more than 30 seconds in between. Rest one to two minutes between circuits, and repeat the circuit two to three times.
Function: Banded Kettlebell Swing
The kettlebell swing is a conditioning staple for most athletes, targeting your posterior chain and developing hip extension power — a prerequisite for jumping high, sprinting fast or hitting your next power clean personal record. Swinging is also metabolically demanding and a great low-impact way to do high-intensity interval training, cardio or a metcon without stepping foot on a treadmill.
- Anchor a band loop around a low bench, rig or other stationary object. Position the band around your hips right in the crease where your hips hinge. If the band is too high, it will simply pull you backward and throw you off-balance.
- Face away from the anchor and take a few steps forward to create tension in the band. Resist the urge to lean forward or rise onto your toes, which creates instability. Maintain an upright posture and control the backward pull of the band by squeezing your glutes throughout the move and bracing your core.
- Hold a kettlebell in both hands, arms straight, then swing it back between your legs, hinging at the hips while keeping your back straight. Snap your hips forward forcefully against the band so the kettlebell swings upward to about shoulder height or slightly higher. The variable resistance of the band means it’ll be tightest at the top of the swing, giving you that extra resistance for a really hard gluteal contraction.
- Keep your glutes contracted as you swing the kettlebell back down and through for the next rep to maintain control and prevent the band from pulling you backward.
- Exhale at the top of each swing to engage your internal obliques, optimizing spinal stability when the band is at its most taut. It also creates a nice rhythm and helps you focus your kinetic chain of power and drive — from the ground, through your hips, through your arms and out the kettlebell.