We’ve sung the praises of resistance bands before, and they definitely have their uses. Bands are affordable and portable, so it’s no wonder they’re popular — but why are they the focus of so many butt-centered workouts? Do you actually need one if you do, in fact, want to build a butt?
By the way, there is a company called “Booty Bands,” but the term “booty bands” has also been applied to the general category of resistance bands that can go around your knees or thighs. Some are made of tough, elasticized fabric, while others are the more traditional rubber. There is no shortage of workouts that incorporate the use of these bands into squats and kickbacks and glute bridges, all while promising you major booty gains. As with many popular workouts, though, the promises are overblown.
Resistance bands come with general pros and cons
Before we delve into booty-focused bands in particular, it’s worth taking a look at the pros and cons of all resistance bands. We compared them with dumbbells here, and as you may recall, the takeaways included:
- Resistance bands can provide more total “weight” than small dumbbells
- Resistance bands wear out over time
- Resistance bands change in how challenging they are depending on how much you stretch them
It’s easy to find upper-body exercises you can do with dumbbells, but it’s not always easy to lift heavy enough at home to do challenging lower-body workouts. Single-leg work like lunges and split squats can help, and yes, resistance bands can be part of the picture — if they are heavy enough.
Easy exercises don’t do you any favours
If you are trying to build a butt, you’re trying to build muscle. And the most efficient way to build muscle is to lift heavy — not a million reps of light work (although that can work, if you are very patient).
So how do you know if you’re working hard or “heavy” enough? As we’ve also mentioned before, you want to be doing smallish numbers of reps (12 or less, most of the time) that are hard enough that the last few reps feel truly challenging. If you’ve been using the same band or weight for a while, try a more challenging one from time to time to find out if you’re stronger than you think. If you are, it’s time to move up.
I mention this here because the banded portion of “booty” workouts is usually fairly easy and light. If you’re doing banded exercises and they fit our definition of heavy and they feel genuinely challenging to you, then they may well be doing what they promise. Stick with the bands for now.
But for most of us, actual heavy weights will be necessary to give your butt (or any body part) an appropriate workout. Champion deadlifters need a lot of strength in their butt, but you won’t see powerlifters eschewing the barbell to focus on banded YouTube workouts, you know?
Bands work best for warmups and accessories
Put all of this together, and it’s clear that bands make the most sense as a side dish to your workout — or an appetizer, or a dessert. To build muscle, the main course still needs to be actual heavy lifting.
So you can do banded kickbacks as part of your warmup, or as a high-rep finisher after leg day at the gym. You can use them for “activation” exercises, which is more or less a newfangled word for warmup. But bands don’t replace your squats, deadlifts, weighted lunges, or hip thrusts. And if you’re doing squats with a band around your knees, the squats are doing the real work, with the band offering — to continue our food metaphor — perhaps a small garnish.