Strengthen Your Glutes and Thighs With This Lateral Lunge Variation From Celebrity Trainer Kira Stokes

Classic lunges are a great lower-body strengthening move. But doing rep after rep of 'em can get a bit, well, boring. If that’s you, celebrity trainer Kira Stokes has just the antidote.

The New York-based fitness instructor and creator of the Kira Stokes Fit app, whose clients include Ashley Graham, Shay Mitchell, and Candace Cameron Bure, recently shared an Instagram video of one of her fitness classes demoing a variation of the move—banded gliding lateral lunges—that’s much more interesting, and challenging, than the OG lunge.

You can check out the video, via @kirastokesfit, here:

As Stokes warns in the caption, the move may look easy, especially when done correctly, but it's much more challenging than it seems.

This banded gliding lateral lunge is a great multi-part move that targets essentially every muscle in your lower half.

“I’m always looking for moves that are compound in nature and hit more than one muscle group,” Stokes tells SELF. And these banded gliding lateral lunges do just that, working pretty much every major muscle from your waist down, including your inner thighs (hip adductors), outer things (hip abductors) and glutes, as well as your quads and core.

Stokes also loves the mental engagement that the move demands. Because it involves multiple tools (a resistance band, glider, and an optional weight), ”you have to really be in control of your muscles versus letting the equipment control you,” says Stokes. In other words, you can't just tune out as you perform the reps.

Beyond that, the fact that this lunge is performed laterally rather than forward or backward (as you would with a standard lunge) makes it a great move for preventing injury and working oft-neglected muscles on the side of the body. Stokes explains it this way: Most of our daily movements involve moving in just one plane of motion: forward and backward. This means that certain muscles, like those that help us move diagonally and to the side, are typically underused, which can lead to strength imbalances in the body, and ultimately in some cases, injury. Incorporating sideways movements, like these banded gliding lateral lunges, can help make you stronger in every direction and combat those issues.

The band and glider may be simple pieces of equipment, but they make this move challenging for a few reasons.

In a typical lateral lunge, which involves picking your foot off the ground to step out and then back in, you may feel a stretch in your inner thigh, but not necessarily much muscle activation, explains Stokes. By adding a glider to the lateral lunge, which requires you to press your weight into the glider as you slide in and out of the lunge position, you'll really fire up your inner thigh muscles, she explains.

Adding a resistance band on top of that helps you also engage your outer thighs and glutes. How, exactly? Well, as you push the glider out, the band creates resistance, which forces the muscles in your outer thigh, called the hip abductor muscles (including the gluteus medius, the smaller muscle on the outer side of your butt that supports the hip and rotational movement of the thigh) to work harder than they would with just the glider alone, Stokes explains in the caption. Translation: You’ll get extra quad- and butt-strengthening benefits simply by slipping on this small tool.

Here’s how to do the banded gliding lateral lunge.

You’ll need a looped resistance band (ICYW Stokes uses a medium resistance mini-band from Perform Better) and a Gliding Disc, though if you don’t have a glider, you can also use a paper towel, paper plate, or wear socks on hardwood floor.

  • Loop the band just above your knees. Place the glider under your right foot and stand up straight, feet hip-distance apart. This is the starting position.
  • Over the course of two to three counts, slowly slide your right foot out to the side (keeping your right leg mostly straight with a micro-bend in the knee) as you simultaneously bend your left knee and push your butt back as you would in a squat. Keep your shoulders back, chest lifted, and core engaged.
  • Once you’ve reached the full lunging position, pause for a moment, press firmly into the glider to engage your inner thigh muscles, and then reverse the movement, slowly sliding back to the starting position over the course of two to three counts.
  • This is 1 rep. Do 12 reps, then switch legs and do another 12 reps.
  • Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.

Be sure to engage your core throughout to help stabilize your body, and press firmly into the glider to get the most strengthening benefits. Another note on the glider: Make sure your entire foot stays on it throughout the reps. If just your toes are pressing down, you may feel pressure in your knee, explains Stokes. Also, keep your toes and knees of the stationary leg pointed forward—don’t let them turn out, she says.

If you’ve perfected the movement and want to amp up the difficulty, try adding weight. Start light and hold one weight with both hands in front of your chest like Stokes demos, or grab two weights and hold one in each hand, she says. You can also progress the move by looping the band around your ankles versus your thighs, like the person standing to Stokes’s right in the video. This lower placement will make the move more difficult, explains Stokes, though make sure the added resistance isn’t restricting you from completing the move through a full range of motion. To that point, if you feel that you can’t fully lunge out to the side because the resistance on your band is too great, you may need a lighter band.

Lastly, don’t be intimidated by the complexity of this exercise, says Stokes. “Complicated moves that force you to think are usually incredibly effective because you have to engage mentally,” she says.

To spice up your lunge routine and reap additional strengthening benefits, give these banded gliding lateral lunges a try.

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