Unpopular opinion: You don’t need a squat rack, a barbell, and a bunch of 45-pound weight plates to do squats.
Still with us?
Resistance band squats might not be the ideal way to build muscular legs and glutes. But they’ll do in a pinch when the gym is closed, or you simply don’t want to leave the house.
Leg day is absolutely still on!
So keep reading to learn all there is to know about resistance band squats.
How To Do a Resistance Band Squat
At some point during your training, you’ve probably used resistance bands for basic lightweight exercises like bicep curls or standing tricep extensions.
But a high weight exercise like squats?
Resistance band squats can be a game-changer in your at-home leg workouts. And whether you have a loop-shaped band or one with handles, you can still reap the same benefits.
So let’s go step-by-step through a few of these variations.
Loop Resistance Band Squat (Step-By-Step)
Before you start this exercise, let’s do a safety check.
Step on the edge of your resistance band and pull the other end up—if the band can stretch to at least shoulder height, you’re good!
- Step on the band with your feet about shoulder-width apart (similar to how you would set up a regular front or back squat).
- Straighten out the band so that it’s parallel to your legs, loops around the back of your shoulder caps, and use a cross-arm grip to grasp the band around your collarbone.
- With your knees and feet facing straight and your back straight, begin dropping your butt down (as if you were going to sit in a chair beneath you).
- As you’re lowering yourself, do your best to keep your knees from shooting outward and extending too far past your toes.
- Once your knees are just below a 90-degree angle, slow down and reverse course.
- Return to your starting position slowly.
We cannot emphasize enough how vital the cross-arm grip on the resistance band is. Not securing the band like this will lead to one of two things (no, neither situation is “good”):
1. The band will slip back toward your neck—you probably see where this is going—and possibly end up choking you, or at least leaving you gasping for air.
2. The band will slip off your shoulders entirely. Say “goodbye” to form and “hello” to a resistance band injury!
Resistance Band With Handles Squats (Step-By-Step)
Fortunately, using a resistance band with handles to do squats is a bit easier, and the risk of being choked out is far less. That ought to be good news, right?
- Stand on the band with both feet with your feet around shoulder-width apart, feet and knees facing forward, and your back straight (a position you’ll keep throughout).
- Grasp one handle in each hand with the band coming up behind your shoulders (basically the starting position of a shoulder press, but save those for another day).
- Slowly begin sinking into a seated position.
- Once you hit about a 90-degree angle in your legs, act as if you’re pushing off the floor with your feet.
- Return to your starting position.
This type of resistance band squat isn’t without its own faults.
Depending on how much resistance the band provides, you might feel the band digging into the back of your arms or rolling with each rep.
This is normal and just something you’ll have to deal with.
There’s also another variation of a handle resistance band squat where you cross the band across your body, but it only further complicates the exercise more than needed.
Hip Resistance Band Squats or Banded Squats (Step-By-Step)
This one version is going to have a different focus, specifically the glutes. You’ll also need a hip resistance band (those small, thick bands that you step into that goes around both legs).
- Get into your normal squat starting position, meaning feet and knees forward, back straight, and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step into the hip resistance band, allow it to sit just above both knees, and widen your stance a little so that the band stretches a bit.
- Sink into a squat (similar to sitting in a chair).
- Once you hit that 90-degree mark, begin pushing off the ground with your feet and return to your starting position.
This exercise is a tad unique, as the resistance will come as you work to keep your stance wide (by pushing your knees outward) instead of facing resistance on the way up.
This is a great exercise if you’re looking to tone your butt.
7 Of the Muscles Worked With the Resistance Band Squat
The same muscles as regular squats.
Okay, that’s a bit vague, and we understand that you might not know that squats work more muscles than just the quads and glutes.
So take a look at the muscles you’ll hit (or will keep your form stable) as your crank out resistance band squats.
- Gluteus maximus (the “glutes”)
- Adductors (the muscles that bring your leg toward the body)
- Erector spinae (goes up your spine, helps with posture too)
- Gastrocnemius (your wider portion of your calves)
- Rectus abdominis & obliques
Well, that’s just about every major lower-body muscle. That makes the resistance band squat an awesome addition to leg day for building strong glutes and legs.
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The 3 Hidden Benefits of Resistance Band Squats
Resistance band squats might not be the same or better than regular barbell squats, but they sure do have a load of benefits you’ll want to take note of.
So here are the perks of resistance band squats.
1. Superior In Times of Minimal Equipment & Space
You won’t always have a squat rack on hand. And there’s only so much room in your apartment or garage for a dumbbell set in 5-pound increments.
That’s where the resistance band squat reigns superior.
Some perks of these band exercises include:
- Up to 90 pounds of resistance (this is for the more elite bands, so double-check!)
- Some resistance bands can be combined to multiply the resistance
- You can adjust the slack or your stance to increase or decrease resistance
- One-legged resistance band squats are an option if you max out at 90 pounds
Add all of these perks to being able to do this exercise anywhere, and you’ve got yourself the ideal leg exercise sans-weights.
2. Can Be Safer For Beginners & Intermediates
Before you set out on your trek for squat PRs in the gym, your first goal should be perfecting your form for the sake of safety.
When performing barbell squats, it’s common to over focus on how much you can squat vs keeping yourself safe. Dropping the weights or breaking form could be devastating.
Similar to shoulder exercises with resistance bands, doing squats with bands makes the movement much safer.
What’s the worst that could happen with a resistance band squat?
- You lose grip of the handle
- The band slips from beneath your arches
- Your resistance band snaps altogether
None of these situations are ideal.
But you have to admit: These are the “best-case scenarios” compared to hundreds of pounds crashing down on you when you least expect it.
So if you’re just getting your feet wet in fitness, this is the exercise for you.
3. There’s No One “Right” Way To Do Them
The best part about resistance band squats is that, like regular squats, there seem to be millions of variations that you can try.
This can keep things interesting in the gym and can keep those plateaus at bay.
Examples of these different variations include:
- Regular resistance band squats
- Resistance band sumo squats
- Overhead resistance band squats (combine shoulder presses and squats)
- Banded squats (for more of a glute focus)
- Walking banded squats
- Resistance band split squats
Are you getting bored in your workouts?
Then swap any of these variations into your routine to switch up your workouts. You might just find a new favorite exercise and be able to break through a plateau.
Safety Tips for Resistance Band Squats
Resistance bands are typically safer than any exercise you can do with barbells, dumbbells, or a Smith machine.
But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to be lax on safety.
Resistance bands can (and have) caused a severe injury in users who were careless and attempted lifts well beyond their means.
So some key ways to ensure safety while doing resistance band squats include:
- Use high arch shoes with a non-worn outsole to prevent the band from slipping from beneath your feet.
- Test and stretch the band before using it and be sure it can handle full extension from shoulder level to your feet.
- Remember that resistance band exercises get more strenuous at each portion of the rep. With that, don’t push through reps so quickly that your muscles are unprepared for the sudden resistance (this can lead to severe back, knee, or hip injuries).
- Do resistance band squats with bands that have handles, as a sudden snap in the band will be less likely to head toward your head or face.
Looks like it’s officially time to add resistance band squats to your next at-home leg day routine.
What are you waiting for?
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