Add a mini band to any lower body move and you’ve created a supreme hip strengthener.
Just look at the mountain climber: Toss a mini band around your feet and the beloved conditioning move is brought up to a whole new level. “With your hips having to resist each leg drive, it forces a slower and more deliberate leg action, which helps strengthen all five of the hip flexors, in addition to working your core and heart like the regular mountain climber,” explains Darin Hulslander, C.S.C.S., owner of This Is Performancepersonal training in Chicago.
The lateral walk, meanwhile, is an OG mini-band move. In fact, that one has long been a favorite hip strengthener of trainers and physical therapists alike—and it’s not about to be upstaged—making it the more effective move in this case.
“The walk targets muscles that tend to be weaker or imbalanced in most people,” says Hulslander. “It requires lateral movement, something we don’t commonly do, and works to strengthen so many muscles involved—the glutes, particularly the glute medius, which is the outer part of the hips and is in charge of stabilizing your knee, the hamstrings, back extensor muscles, and quads.”
It can be incorporated as a warmup, recovery, or even a conditioning move and anyone can do it, regardless of their fitness level. It doesn’t require the shoulder stabilization and hip position that the mountain climber does. And it’s tremendous for strengthening the lower back, which helps improve your posture, Hulslander adds.
So while the mini band mountain climbers might not strengthen your hips as well as the lateral walk, adding the resistance tool is still a great way to add a little flexor fire to your conditioning days. Bonus: Since you have to slow down to keep those feet flexed against the band, this also forces you to maintain plank longer, delivering more core activation and time under tension.
Here’s the right way to do both moves:
MINI-BAND MOUNTAIN CLIMBER
How to: With a mini band around your feet, assume a pushup position. Lift your right foot off the floor and slowly raise your knee as close to your chest as you can. Return to the starting position and repeat with your left leg. That’s one rep.
LATERAL MINI-BAND WALK
How to: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, knees bent and a mini-band looped around your calves. Step your right foot out to the right, followed by your left, keeping tension on the band and your feet pointed forward. Complete reps, then repeat steps to the left.