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Cable Hip External Rotation: A Simple but Effective Glute Exercise

By August 28, 2013January 14th, 2014Glute Training

Here is a great exercise for beginners and even more advanced lifters who struggle to utilize their gluteus maximus effectively in hip external rotation (I’d estimate that 30% of male lifters and 60% of female lifters don’t utilize their glutei maximi effectively in rotational strength training actions).

The gluteus maximus has an incredible capaciity to laterally rotate the hips as I explained in THIS scientific post on the glutes. It has excellent leverage for rotation and is highly activated in athletic and coordinated individuals. However, if you fail to incorporate the gluteus maximus into rotational actions, you’re leaving out a major player and have much room for improvement in this movement pattern.

Cable hip external rotation is easy to perform and leads to surprisingly high levels of activation even with light loads, and it will teach the gluteus maximus to fire properly so it can be more highly integrated into more complex movements such as swinging, striking, and throwing. It takes the core out of the equation to simplify matters and hone in on hip action. Make sure you watch the video as I tinker with body positioning to maximize the average torque and maintain constant tension on the hip rotators.

Once individuals are proficient with the cable exercise, they can move onto more challenging exercises. Here I am performing the band anti-rotation hold – it works the rear glute very well in a static position.

Here is baseball player Steve Hammond properly performing the band hip rotation; a very effective glute/core exercise (but very difficult for many to master).

It is paramount that baseball players, golfers, and other athletes involved in rotational sports (or sports that utilize rotary actions) effectively activate their glutes as hip external rotators in order to maximize their performance.



  • Joe Miller says:

    I wonder how a banded clam shell compares with this exercise (band being places around legs just above the knees)?

    • Bret says:

      Good question. I like both. The clamshell involves a more hips-flexed position whereas this involves a hips-extended position. The clamshell is more “transverse plane abduction” or “horizontal plane abduction,” whereas this is pure hip external rotation. Both are great. As for activation, I think this leads to higher levels with most individuals.

      • Joe Miller says:

        I’ve also see an exercise where you’re banded similar to your video but the whole leg moves away from the body at some angle behind the body (not simply straight out to the side).

  • claudia says:

    Very nice. As always.
    I really like this one, and thinking of adding it to my own therapy. But I will ask, I have a small tear in my anterior hip labrum, having done quite a bit of PT already the last two years, (working through it to avoid surgery), always looking for some new ways to keep it strong … do you think it would be better for me to strap above the knee, flex it a little and go with a lighter weight? just curious how you might adapt it, or just keep it the same.
    Mahalo Claudia

  • Alex says:

    Great idea Brett!

    Thanks for this, its just what I needed at this point in time!

    Keep making history mate! 😉

  • Alex says:

    Hey Brett im finding for the band hip rotations that my gluteus medius hits failure before my gluteus maximus and my gluteus maximus never reaches failure/ gets a good workout.

    How can I make it work so my glute max reaches failure?

    Thanks mate!

    • Alex says:

      So my glute max is working its initiating the movement but the glute medius on the other side of my hip tires 1st lol

  • Sern says:

    Hi Bret,

    I’m from Holland and I read your articles.. They are very interesting!
    But I have a problem. The trainers here in Holland aren’t that specialized as you are because they don’t have the knowlegde. I want bigger glutes, but the only exercises they gave me is the back squat and leg curls. And after I read your articles I made a training schedule for myself. Can you please mail me back so I can send you my training schedule for glutes so you can check if it’s good or not? Because nobody here can’t help me with that.

  • Daniela says:

    Can this be mimicked in a prone position?

  • Lina says:

    Do you have to use a cable for it to be affective? I don’t have access to a gym so there’s no equipment. Can I use a band and attach it to something?

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