7 essential resistance band exercises to supercharge leg day

You don't need an expensive gym membership for these workouts
7 essential resistance band exercises

We love bodyweight workouts at Get Sweat Go – and using a resistance band can bring leg day to another level.

Not only are they free, but understanding what exercises you can do without access to a gym means that you’re not reliant on anyone but yourself to keep the training going. There are limitations to them though, especially when you reach a level of training where bodyweight just isn’t enough and you need a bit of extra resistance to keep the muscles improving.

That’s where resistance bands come in as the perfect, cost-effective solution to taking your bodyweight training to the next level. Price generally varies between £5-£25 depending on the thickness of the band, with the ones at the most expensive end offering extremely high levels of resistance for your workouts.

Try these workouts

In our Real Workout series, we work with fitness professionals around the world to find the best workouts being used in gyms and studios to train real people. We’re not looking for quick fixes like ‘how to get killer abs’, instead we want to give clear honest advice on functional exercises that can be done by anyone, with a focus on developing the body in the right way.

We headed over to Sweat It, one of London’s most popular functional studios for HIIT and strength and conditioning, to run through some of the best resistance band exercises for the lower body with Zack Mills, an experienced trainer who specialises in fat loss, strength and conditioning and an overall healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Banded deadlift

Muscles worked: Hamstrings, glutes and core

How to do it: Deadlifts are by far one of the best and most fundamental compound exercises you can do to build strength. They’re not easy to get right though and people spend years working on their form to perform them safely and effectively. Using a band to carry out the movement is a great way to start developing the movement as it’s significantly safer than using a barbell, but also adds on a level of resistance that makes the exercise challenging.

Place the band on the floor and step onto it with the centre of the feet about shoulder width apart. Reach down by pushing your bottom and legs backwards (it’s not a squat), whilst keeping your upper body straight, and grab the ends of the band loop with both hands. Pushing the hips forward, lift the bands as your body straightens to a standing position. Hold for a second then lower down into the bases position again.

Safety tip: Keep the shoulders pinned back throughout the whole movement and the chest proud.

Real workout: Resistance band exercises for leg day

Banded bear walk

Muscles worked: Glutes, shoulders, core

How to do it: Placing both hands on the floor directly below your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart, your knees should be bent and held a couple of inches from the floor and the resistance band looped around your waist and attached to a static object. With a completely straight, table-like back walk your hands and legs forward whilst maintaining your core and back position. Take a few steps forward until the resistance of the band is too much, then walk backwards.

Safety tip: Start with the feet hip width apart and don’t let your feet come together.

Real workout: Resistance band exercises for leg day

Banded squat press

Muscles worked: Legs, core, shoulders

How to do it: When it comes to working a vast amount of the body, there are few movements as effective as the squat and press. Step onto the band with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the top part of it it over the shoulders. Squat down with your back as straight as possible keeping your heels firmly on the ground then push up to a standing position. As you reach the top of the stand, push your hands up above the shoulders. To reset, lower the arms back down to shoulders then drop back into the squat with a controlled movement.

Safety tip: Keep the feet hip-width apart, engage the core and sit back into the hips.

Real workout: Resistance band exercises for leg day

Banded donkey kicks

Muscles worked: Core and glutes

How to do it: Adopt a table-top position and hook the end of the band around the foot and place both hands above the other end. Drive the right foot back behind you extending as far as you can. Focus on activating the glute muscle as you push the leg back then slowly control it back to the start position. Perform the movement for 60 seconds before switching over to the other leg.

Safety tip: Make sure your shoulders are directly above your outstretched hands for the whole motion.

Real workout: Resistance band exercises for leg day

More workouts

Banded good morning

Muscles worked: Back of legs and lower back

How to do it: Stand on one end of the band with feet hip width apart, hook the other end of the band behind the shoulders, holding in place with your hands. Hinge at the hip with a small bend in the knee to activate the hamstrings and the lower back.

Safety tip: Ensure that your back stays completely straight throughout, if you lack mobility (which is common) then only move to the point where you can maintain this back position.

Real workout: Resistance band exercises for leg day

Lying leg extension

Muscles worked: Legs

How to do it: A great option for people who are struggling with squats or need to work on imbalances or recovery. Lie on your back then bend the knee, hooking the band under the foot. Holding the band firm with tension, extend leg to straight and return to the start position with a controlled movement.

Safety tip: Make sure the band is hooked firmly into the centre of the foot to avoid unwanted band whipping.

Real workout: Resistance band exercises for leg day

Banded broad jumps

Muscles worked: Legs and core

How to do it: Attach the band to a solid structure behind you and position it around the waist. From a squat position, jump forward with both legs and land comfortably with the full length of the foot. Quickly speed step back into the start position and repeat.

Safety tip: If you’re jumping too far and landing on the forefoot or with one leg before the other, pull back an inch.

Real workout: Resistance band exercises for leg day

Try this workout

Carry out every exercises with only 15 seconds rest between each one. At the end of the full workout rest for two minutes then repeat. Complete the whole series of exercises three times.

Note: The majority of exercises focus on good form and controlled movements, not speed.

  • Banded deadlift x 10
  • Banded bear walk x 8
  • Banded squat press x10
  • Banded donkey kicks x 8 on each leg
  • Banded good morning x 10
  • Lying leg extension x 8 each leg
  • Banded broad jumps x 8
  • 2 minute rest

Are you a trainer or studio who would like to feature in an exercises series? If so we’d love to hear what training experience you can bring to our readers. Send us an email at [email protected].

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