Booty bands — also called hip circles, mini bands, or resistance bands — are kind of like travel toiletries. They're functional, easy to buy in bulk, and fit perfectly in your suitcase. Plus, they can help you get in a killer workout whether you're at home, in the gym, or on the road. I personally love using fabric ones because they don't slip and, in my experience, last longer. But as much as you might love them, as much as you might feel your glutes burning when you do banded kickbacks or glute bridges, do booty bands actually build muscle at the end of the day? We asked two trainers for the lowdown.
Do Booty Bands Build Muscle? Yes, but There's a Catch
James Shapiro, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Primal Power Fitness, told POPSUGAR that booty bands "create a field of resistance and can, by that definition, create muscle when going through a high volume of training." Charlee Atkins, CSCS, founder of Le Sweat, agreed. "Booty band exercises help isolate and target, and thus activate, the smaller glute muscles: glute minimus and glute medius," she said. This is especially the case if you're more of a beginner who's never used them before.
Charlee continued, "However, the range of motion is limited and the amount of resistance is limited to the heaviest band in your bunch." There's only so much progression you can make with booty bands so, therefore, it's harder to achieve progressive overload after a certain point. Your body will eventually get used to these bands, even the heaviest ones, and you'll need to pick up the weights.
Charlee said that if you want to grow your glutes, putting a significant load on your body with weights is the most effective way to do that. The best butt-building exercises, she noted, are ones that incorporate the following:
"These exercises have to be done consistently and with resistance and through as much range of motion as possible," Charlee said. Fewer reps are ideal the heavier the weight is. Most booty band workouts usually feature high reps, which promote endurance training more than strength training, she explained.
If You're New to Working Out, You Can Use Booty Bands to Build Muscle
Charlee said that booty band and bodyweight exercises are a great place to start if you're brand new to working out because "you will see the results." Booty bands typically come in packs with a variety of resistance levels. Make sure you're increasing the intensity — aka, upping the resistance — when exercises start getting easy (again, this is the whole idea with progressive overload). James suggested that people first start by using a single band with low to medium resistance and slowly integrate two bands (one around the ankles and another above the knees). Check out free booty band workouts here, and one trainer's favourite banded glute exercises for inspiration.
If You Aren't New to Working Out, You Can Still Use Booty Bands to Build Muscle
As mentioned earlier, if you are not new to exercise, it's time to start adding load and resistance to your workouts to achieve growth. Once you've conquered basic bodyweight and banded exercises, add a barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbell, Charlee said. Some of the workouts I do incorporate both weights and booty bands. Charlee noted that these bands are also still great for warmups to activate the glutes and get the most out of your workout. The point is, weights are important to grow your booty once booty band exercises alone aren't challenging anymore.
So remember to keep changing it up, and if your goal is to build muscle, other aspects of your life outside of the gym need your attention. Make sure you're eating enough calories packed with protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Getting enough sleep and giving yourself time to recover is important, too.