5 Resistance Band Leg Exercises
Intensify to Your Leg Day with a Resistance Band
This past Christmas my sister and I basically got each other the same gift…a pack of resistance bands. Clearly we are gym rats who know each other well! I had seen a few people bringing their own at the gym and thought that would be a great way to increase intensity at the gym especially on leg days.
We both ordered our bands on Amazon for about $10. The pack contains 5 varying levels of resistance from extra light to extra heavy. Both of us typically use extra heavy unless we are stretching and then we go lighter. Depending on the exercise, you’ll have to judge what you are comfortable with, but I would say increase the resistance to the highest you can handle. Don’t cut yourself short of a challenge!
Check out these 5 resistance band exercises that are sure to add some intensity to your leg day!
Shoulder Squats on the Smith Machine with Leg Abductions
This has to be one of my favorite exercises for leg day. I put a total of 30 pounds on the Smith Machine and place a squat bar sleeve/cushion for comfort. Place the resistance band around your ankles. Stand with your feet under your hips and your left shoulder under the bar. You want to have the bar comfortably resting. I typically put both my hands lightly on the bar just for balance.
Squat so that your butt is parallel to the floor and be sure that your knees don’t roll over your toes. After standing back up, extend your right leg to the side away from your body. That is one rep. I do this about 8-10 times and count that as a set. Then go to the other side of the bar to rest it on your right shoulder. This time you will be extending your left leg.
Squat shuffles are an awesome exercise because they can be done pretty much anywhere if you have your resistance band. Put the band around your ankles, bend your knees, and squat. While staying in the squat position, step one leg to the side and then bring the other leg in to get back in the starting position. I typically do these down an aisle at the gym by doing 10 staring with my right leg and then I go back up the aisle for 10 more starting with my left leg.
Try not to let yourself stand up straight or bounce during the shuffle. The goal is to remain low. Think about having a ceiling above your head that you don’t want to hit. You should feel the outer part of your quads and your glutes burning.
Sumo squats can be pretty intense without an band, so adding a band can really make it a challenge. I typically get a 45-55 pound dumbbell or kettlebell. Place the band about midway on your thighs. Stand with your feet pointed about 45 degrees outward. These are called sumo squats because you stand like a sumo wrestler, so be sure your stance is wide. Holding the dumbbell or kettlebell in your hands, squat down so your butt is parallel to the floor. You’ll have to keep your knees strong as the resistance band will try to pull your knees inward.
Kettlebell One Legged Dead Lift
Find a place that you can rest one hand on like a bench, rack, or even a wall. Get a kettlebell you can hold with one hand. Put the resistance band around your ankles. Your body will be doing somewhat of a see-saw movement. Ground your left foot and hold the kettlebell in your left hand. Tip out at the hips while lifting up your right leg until your chest and leg are about parallel to the floor. With the resistance band it’s going to be a challenge to get your leg up that high, but push yourself!
The key here is to not grab onto the bench, rack, or wall for your dear life. You are just doing a slight grip to stabilize your balance. Also, you want to keep a flat back and proper spine alignment. Do not round out or arch your back. Remember this is a leg day, not a back day! So if you start to feel too much pain in your back you should probably decrease your reps.
Reverse Leg Lifts
You could do this laying on a mat on the floor or to increase the intensity even more you could find a bench or aerobics stepper. You put the resistance band around your calves and lay on your stomach. If you are using a bench or a stepper, be sure that only your legs are hanging off. Have your legs a little wider than hip width to activate the resistance in the band. Keeping your legs somewhat straight, lift your legs up and then down. To change it up, you could do an out-in movement at the top of the lift.
If you are starting to get bored with your workouts or you feel as though you’ve reach a plateau, I highly suggest incorporating resistance bands. These can be used at home or in the gym. Plus, they are useful for stretching and even other targeted areas.
What are your favorite exercises to do with a resistance band? Comment below!