Episode 392: "You've been doing your Side Steps Wrong!"
Various studies have looked at the side step exercise and its many variations such as the monster walk. All of these exercises have found relatively high gluteal action, making them a staple in many corrective exercise programs. However, it’s really easy to do this exercise WRONG and completely miss the therapeutic intent of the exercise.
Cue 1: DON'T LET TENSION OUT OF THE BAND. Keep constant tension on the band during the whole exercise. The moment you lose tension, you lose that extra gluteal activation you're trying to get in the first place by incorporating the band. Also, the band is often more of a neuromuscular facilitator than actually adding any load or demand to the exercise, so losing tension means you’ve just lost that tactile cue.
Cue 2: KEEP YOUR HIPS LEVEL. People love to cheat and use their quadratus lumborum and other trunk muscles during this exercise. Look at yourself in the mirror: does your pelvis move while doing this? It shouldn't move at all. If you feel pain or stress in your low back while doing this exercise, you're doing it wrong.
I am an advocate for small, fast steps during this exercise, but you can also increase the magnitude of the movement and work on a bigger concentric/eccentric movement by slowing it down and taking larger steps. If you choose to do it this way, just make sure you are set with a smaller band to keep constant tension!