Throughout the new coronavirus pandemic, home exercise equipment has been at a premium. But glute bands—like the Sling Shot Hip Circle—seemed to stay in stock more consistently than gear like kettlebells and dumbbells, so when my old fabric glute band started to fray and lose some of its tautness a few months ago, I decided to replace it.
It might have been the best $ 20 fitness purchase I’ve ever made.
The Sling Shot Hip Circle is quite frankly the king of the glute bands. When I first started using mini-bands for glute activation and butt exercises, I defaulted to the thin, flimsy, latex ones—you know, the ones that look pretty much like wide rubber bands. These helped me get the movements down, but soon, because they didn’t offer much resistance, they became way too easy. I found myself needing to do a boatload of reps to feel my muscles working. Plus, the thin bands tended to curl and bunch up, meaning I was readjusting it every few reps. I was also on the receiving end of one or two unfortunate snaps, which, I will say, are not the most encouraging way to start a workout.
Next, I tried a fabric mini-band—thicker, which gave more resistance, sturdier, and with a fabric covering that prevented ride-up. Soon, though, the band began to fray, and the resistance started to loosen up.
That’s when I tried the Sling Shot Hip Circle, and I just wish I bought it sooner. The Sling Shot Hip Circle comes in three sizes, which you pick based on your bodyweight. I chose the smallest—for those under 150 pounds—and it is tough. While I can certainly use it for warm-up and glute activation, it’s hard enough that it really makes my muscles work, which means I can use it for exercises during my actual working sets, too.
“These bands are thicker than the traditional mini-bands, and by just having more fibers, they create a greater resistance, which makes the moves harder,” Alicia Jamison, C.P.T., a coach at Body Space Fitness in New York City, tells SELF.
I use the Hip Circle every leg day: First, I warm up with it (I’m a huge fan of this glute activation circuit, sticking to the low end of the rep range for moves like clam shells, band walks, and glute bridges ). Then I use it to create a few supersets throughout my actual routine—a strategy to help your workouts feel harder when you can’t add more weight—slotting in Hip Circle exercises after compound movements to really get my glutes working. So after a set of weighted pause squats, I’ll go right into a set of banded squats, or after a set of Romanian deadlifts, I’ll do banded glute kickbacks. This has been key to allowing my legs and glutes to work nearly as hard at home as they did when I was able to use heavy weights at the gym.
Its fabric covering also makes sure that it stays right where you want it to. It’s never bunched up, and it doesn’t ride up or slide down, either. So if I position it slightly higher on my thighs to make squats easier during warm up—the farther away it is from your anchor joint, the harder it makes the exercise, says Jamison—it’s going to stay that way throughout the set.
An added bonus? Using the Hip Circle is also helping me clean up my squat, since it cues you to push your knees out against the band. This helps prevent your knees from caving in—a problem that can pop up for me when I’m fatigued—by recruiting your abductor muscles, or your gluteus medius, when you push outward, says Jamison.
In the three months I’ve been using it (twice a week), I haven’t noticed any amount of fraying, either. It looks just as sharp as when it arrived, and acts like new, too—I haven’t felt any loosening of the resistance yet like I did with my previous fabric band. So I’m pretty confident it’ll keep my glutes working for however long my gym hiatus may be.