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Last Updated on December 15, 2020

11 Resistance Band Exercises for Legs

11 Resistance Band Exercises for Legs

Hitting the weight room isn’t the only way to build strong, toned legs. In reality, gym workouts typically focus on hitting the large muscle groups – glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves whilst also training the core muscles. If you’ve been working out at home or don’t have access to a gym, then you’re probably wondering what exercises you can do to still get an effective workout. Well, don’t worry because there are resistance band exercises for legs that can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Resistance band exercises for legs provide lots of variety to work all the major muscle groups in the lower body and also provide the flexibility of letting you train from anywhere.[1]

If you travel regularly, like to go on holiday, or simply enjoy working out of your bedroom, then this is for you.[2]

In this article, I will be sharing the top 11 resistance band exercises for legs.

Let’s dive in.

1 Resistance Band Squat

What they work on: Glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings

How to perform: While standing, place a resistance band just above your knees. Keep your feet around shoulder-width apart and hold your arms out in front of you. Keeping your glutes and core tight, sit into a squat by pushing your butt back and down. Push against the resistance band with your knees and keep the weight firmly on your heels by pressing on the ground and standing back up.

Progression: Add a 1-second pause at the bottom of the movement to make this harder.

Rep range: 10-15

2. Banded Glute Bridge Pulses

What they work on: Entire back of your legs and glutes

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How to perform: Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place the band above your knees. Keep your core tight and then push your hips up, driving through your heels until your knees reach a 90-degree angle, creating a bridge. Then, come back down to fully complete the rep. Be sure you push your knees out and against the band to keep them in line with your shoulders.

Progression: To make the exercise more difficult, you can do it by lifting either your right or left foot off the ground. Make sure you alternate legs.

Rep range: 10-15

3. Lateral Band Steps

What they work on: Glutes, hip-abductor muscles, and quads

How to perform: Place the resistance band just above the knees. Stand in a quarter squat position with your feet around shoulder-width apart and pointing directly forward. With the left foot, step around 10 inches to your left and then step in with the right foot from the same distance so that your feet are back to your starting position. Continue alternating steps, side to side, and repeat in the opposite direction.

Progression: Place the resistance band around your ankles instead of the knees to increase the difficulty.

Rep range for each leg: 10-15

4. Resistance Band Leg Curls

What they work on: Hamstrings

How to perform: Lie on the floor, face down, with your legs straight. Loop a resistance band between your toes. Slowly curl one leg bringing your heel up to your bum by bending your knee, so your one leg is past 90 degrees. Hold this for a second and then lower the bent leg down to the starting position.

Progression: When descending on the rep, come down with a 3-second negative to make the movement more difficult.

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Rep range for each leg: 10-15

5. Resistance Band Tabletop Glute Kickbacks

What they work on: Glutes and core

How to perform: Position yourself on all fours and place a resistance band in the arches of your feet. Squeeze your glutes and core and then kick your left foot directly behind you in a straight line. Then, bring your foot back to your starting position and alternate legs.

Progression: When descending on the rep, come down with a 3-second negative to make the movement more difficult.

Rep range for each leg: 10-15

6. Single Leg Resistance Band Box Squat

What they work on: Quads and glutes

How to perform: Sit on the edge of a chair or bench and place the resistance band above your knees. Ideally, you want to be sitting so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Ensure that your torso and chest are in front of your hips. Then, lift your left leg off the floor so that only your right leg is on the floor. Stand up on your right leg until it is fully extended and then sink down onto the chair or bench slowly. Repeat this on the other leg.

Progression: When descending on the rep, come down with a 3-second negative to make the movement more difficult.

Rep range for each leg: 10-15

If you find it too difficult to do single leg box squats  with a resistance band, here’s a version of it without a resistance band for beginners:

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7. Resistance Band Leg Lifts

What they work on: Smaller muscles in the glutes

How to perform: In the standing position, place the resistance band around your ankles with your feet shoulder-width apart. Maintaining an upright posture (eyes looking forward and chest up) and placing your hands on your hips, bring your right leg out to the side as far as you can without shifting the hips. Once you feel the tension, lower your leg to the starting position.

Progression: When descending on the rep, come down with a 3-second negative to make the movement more difficult.

Rep range for each leg: 10-15

8. Resistance Band Clamshells

What they work on: Glutes and core/obliques

How to perform: Lie down on your side with your legs on the floor and hold yourself up with your forearm. Place the resistance band just above your knees and then bend them to 90 degrees. Ensure that both feet are together and your abs are engaged. Drive your top knee upwards as far as possible and then slowly bring it back down to the starting position. Repeat this on the other leg.

Progression: When descending on the rep, come down with a 3-second negative to make the movement more difficult.

Rep range for each leg: 10-15

9. Resistance Band Fire Hydrants

What they work on: Gluteus medius and minimus

How to perform: Go on all fours and place a resistance band just above your knees. Keep your core and glutes tight and then lift your knee to the side without moving your hips. Straighten and stabilize your body as you push against the resistance band. Bring your knee back to your starting position on all fours. Repeat with the opposite leg.

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Progression: When descending on the rep, come down with a 3-second negative to make the movement more difficult.

Rep range for each leg: 10-15

10. Resistance Band Standing Rear Leg Lifts

What they work on: Glutes and hamstrings

How to perform: In the standing position, place the resistance band around your lower calves. Press your hands on the wall or something sturdy to ensure that you can keep your balance. Raise one leg behind you until you feel the tension in the resistance band. Once you reach the top of the movement, contract your glutes and bring your leg back to your starting position. Repeat with the other leg.

Progression: When descending on the rep, come down with a 3-second negative to make the movement more difficult.

Rep range for each leg: 10-15

11. Resistance Band Leg Extension

What they work on: Quadriceps

How to perform: Lie flat on your back and bend your left leg towards your chest. Using both hands, hold the resistance band tightly and place your left foot in it. With your right foot planted on the floor, press your left leg out at a 45-degree angle and then bring it back to the starting position. Repeat this with the other leg.

Progression: When the quadriceps are lengthening, come down with a three-second negative to make the movement more difficult.

Rep range for each leg: 10-15

Final Thoughts

These are the 11 best resistance band exercises for legs that you can ever find.[3] Give them a go, and you’ll be well on your way to growing those glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps from anywhere you want!

More on Resistance Band Exercises

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Oliver Anwar

Fitness Entrepreneur, Health Consultant & Qualified Nutrition Coach

resistance band exercises for legs 11 Resistance Band Exercises for Legs 12 Best At Home Workouts (No Equipment Needed) 15 Healthy Eating Tips from a Professional Health Coach

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

How To Workout Without a Gym And Get a Killer Gym Body

How To Workout Without a Gym And Get a Killer Gym Body

As a general rule, everyone wants to have a sexy and strong body, but no one wants to put in the work. We see a whole lot of excuses being thrown around every time fitness is mentioned, and it’s frightening that only about 3% of people in the US subscribe to the healthy living philosophy.[1]

That being said, have you ever stopped to think about why all these people fail to get in shape? Sure, there are some who are lazy, some with legitimate medical issues, and the readily available cheap junk food doesn’t help, but I think there is something more to it.

People are pressed for time, scared, and confused. Yep, it’s as simple as that. Most people either can’t make it to the gym, don’t have a lot of money to drop on long-term membership fees, don’t feel comfortable exercising around others, or they simply don’t even know what to do when they do get to the gym.[2]

Well, with a few useful tricks, some good information, and a bit of determination, you can create all the right conditions for building an impressive physique without ever leaving the house. Here’s a few things to have in mind:

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Fixing your posture and getting limber

The biggest issue most beginners have when they start working out is the fact that their bodies are so used to sitting scrunched up in front of a screen that they have trouble moving around freely. The human body can be amazingly limber and assume all kinds of positions, but for most people, this is going to require extensive work.

Start by gradually improving your posture over a few weeks, using small exercises, more ergonomic furniture, and just being mindful of how you stand, walk, and sit.[3] You can combine this with a short and sweet stretching routine, done about twice a day, to get your body ready to perform the basic exercises correctly.

Learning the basic movements

While there’s a lot of science behind both getting stronger and getting leaner, it can all be boiled down to a few core concepts and a number of the most effective exercises. Here are the best movements for overall development that you’ll need to master (you can find examples of how to perform all the exercises mentioned here on Bodybuilding.com):

  • Squats: the king of all exercises, the squat builds most of your leg muscles with an emphasis on quads and glutes, if you go nice and deep like you should. It can be a good core and thoracic extension exercise if you hold some weight in front of you, as in the Goblet and Zercher squat variations.
  • Lunges: a great exercise for the quads and glutes that also targets the hip extensors. It also teaches you to keep your balance.
  • Pushup variations:[4] the pushup is so versatile that some call it “the poor man’s gym”. The standard close grip pushup works the triceps, front shoulders, and chest, while wider variations put more emphasis on the chest. Raising your legs pushes the focus towards the shoulders and the upper chest, while the handstand pushup is predominantly a shoulder and triceps exercise.
  • Dips: another great exercise for the lower chest and triceps, this is an incredibly fun movement that can slap mass on you quickly when done correctly.
  • Pull-ups and chin-ups: grab a bar, hang from it with arms almost fully stretched out, and then pull yourself up until your chin raises above the bar. This is a fairly straightforward, yet difficult movement that builds a big back, biceps, and forearms. Position your hands facing the head for more bicep activation, and go a bit wider with palms facing away from you to target the lats better.
  • Rows/inverted row: a horizontal pulling motion that will add slabs of meat to your back and while improving that often lagging back head of the shoulder muscle. It even improves posture by strengthening the spinal erectors to an extent. You can bend over with the back straight and row a weight from the ground, with one or both hands, or you can grab the underside of a horizontal bar, feet on the ground, and pull yourself into it.
  • Glute bridges: a great way to really isolate and work the butt. It also gets the hamstrings, which are often neglected by people working out at home.
  • Floor hip extensions: a good addition that also focuses on the glutes and hamstrings, resulting in well-toned and balanced legs.
  • Calf raises: the calf is a small muscle but an important one, especially for the ladies who want to look great in heels. It’s also easy to just throw in at the end of the workout.
  • Planks, leg raises, and ab wheel rollout: of course, the abs need some attention too, but go for planks, hold for time, side planks, hanging or lying leg raises, and ab wheel rollout for the best results.
  • The Superman: the spinal erectors need to be strong if they are to keep your back healthy, balance out those abs, and keep you nice and tight during most of the other exercises on the list, so definitely give this one a go.

Take a few weeks to just get the form down pat on all these movements and make sure that you are doing a full range of motion and slower, deliberate movements. Don’t just bounce all over the place. Establish and build momentum. You can use a good bodyweight strength training program to make sure you hit all the muscles, keep progressing, and get enough time to recover.[5]

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How to progress on bodyweight exercises

Now, if you want to have a great and lean physique — and this goes for ladies as well — you need to build some muscle to give your limbs that lovely shape you are after, before you can lose the excess flab, and expose that Greek statue of a body. Don’t try to combine endurance work with your strength exercises. Focus on building strength with the exercises above and dedicate some time every other day for things like swimming, jumping rope, or cycling to burn some calories and improve your cardio.

Okay, so the main question is, how does one progress on bodyweight exercises, short of gaining more weight to make them more challenging? Well, there’s a few things you can do. The first thing to do to challenge yourself is to add more reps.

The most important thing to remember, however, is that when you can easily perform 15-20 reps of an exercise and still have a few reps left in the tank, it’s time to make it more challenging by doing one of the following:

  • Add an additional set. If you started at 3 sets of 5-6 reps and you’re now comfortable with 3 sets of 15-17 reps, then you can simply throw in a fourth set into the mix.
  • Do it slower. Busting out 20 quick reps isn’t quite the same as doing 10 slow and controlled reps, where you can even add a short pause when your muscles are fully relaxed before contracting them for the next rep.
  • Shorten the rest period between sets. 60-90 seconds is the sweet spot for resting between longer sets of 10-20 reps, but when things get easy, you can shorten this rest period progressively by 10 seconds, until you are only resting about 30-40 seconds between sets, to make it more difficult before moving on to a more challenging variation or adding weight.
  • Move on to a more difficult variation. When you get comfortable, focus on a variation of the movement that provides a bit of a challenge, e.g. one arm on ball pushups and then single arm pushups, pistol squats, and so on.
  • Add some weight. While you might not have access to barbells, you can always get a fairly inexpensive dumbbell set, a few different sized bags filled with sand, a backpack with some rocks, and even big water bottles and milk jugs will do the trick, just as long as you keep adding weight.

Work hard on your form, then try to go as hard as you can each session without overdoing it. I’d say stop a rep short of failure and rest until you feel you can go for another full set.

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Determining the type of cardio you need to do

Cardio is not that difficult to figure out and it basically boils down to a few simple rules, depending on your shape and goals:

  • If you’re skinny and want to get sexy and muscular: Do light and steady cardio, like a brisk walk for an hour, 5-6 minutes of jump rope here and there, or even just 10 minutes of shadow-boxing or dancing every day. Don’t let it cut into your calories too much.
  • If you’re a little overweight and want to lose 10 pounds or less and build muscle: It’s the same as the previous example, just add 2-4 more intense sessions of running, swimming, circuit training a week into the mix to cut the weight first. Revert to the previous example once you have lost the weight and recenter your focus on building muscle.
  • If you’re seriously overweight and your main concern is cutting 20+ pounds: Again, it’s the same as the previous example, only you can go with even more intense workouts, or daily moderate cardio sessions of about 20-30 minutes for a while. Once you’ve lost most of the weight, revert to the previous example, and then to the first example when you’ve shed all the extra pounds you’d like to get rid of.

You can choose any activity that you like, from jump rope, cycling, and swimming to hiking and and other high-cardio sports.

A look at diets and keeping them reasonable

As far as the diet goes we’ll keep it extremely simple:

  • Try to eat diverse vegetables with every meal
  • Eat fruit, seeds, and nuts instead of sweets
  • Go for lean meats instead of processed meat and cooked food instead of fast and fried food
  • Start counting your macro nutrient intake[6]
  • Cheat if you must, but keep these meals small, few, and far between

As long as you can stick with the program for about 80% of the time, you’ll be on your way to better health and an amazing body!

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DIY home gym basics

Some essentials that can help you get better results at home include:

  • A dumbbell set
  • Pull-Up bar
  • Ab wheel
  • Big ol’ sturdy bags filled with sand

You can do tons of great exercises with these simple tools, but if you can’t shell out for them right now, good alternatives include five gallon milk jugs filled with water, a bunch of books stacked in a backpack, using a friend/partner to lay on you, push, or pull to provide extra resistance, or just lifting heavy furniture and moving it around the room.

It pays to be creative. Look at how certain exercises are performed and on what type of equipment, and try to replicate it using household items. For example:

  • Two chairs = dip station
  • Anything that you can hang off = pull up bar
  • A stack of large blankets on the floor = bench
  • Stick and some rope = forearm exercise machine
  • A towel wrapped on a bar or dumbbell grip = thick grip for hand and forearm strength
  • Car = prowler device for pushing to build endurance and power in the legs

It’s all fairly cheap and you can get as creative as you like, just remember to be consistent with your training in order to see the results you wish to see.

All it takes is a little ingenuity and elbow grease, and you’ll set up a decent home “gym” and adopt some great habits along the way. It’s all about being consistent and trying to progress on each session, or at least each week, as you keep adding reps, using more complex movements, and adding weight, all while eating right for your current goals. Give it a shot and always remember, 90% of all this is your commitment and the intensity with which you attack these positive life changes.

Featured photo credit: Minna Hamalainen via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Atlantic: Study: Less Than 3 Percent of Americans Live a ‘Healthy Lifestyle’
[2] Men’s Fitness: 6 Not-So-Obvious Newbie Training Mistakes
[3] Perfect Postur: Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics
[4] Men’s Fitness: The Top 15 Pushup Variations
[5] Men’s Fitness: 6 Bodyweight Workouts That Actually Build Momentum
[6] On the Regimen: How To Count Your Macros – A Comprehensive Guide

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