We know what you’re thinking.
How the hell do you build strong legs using nothing more than a thin elastic band?
Resistance bands leg exercises will never be a complete replacement for traditional back squats or Romanian deadlifts. But they’ll do when space, time, and money are limited.
So take a look at our top 9 resistance band leg exercises for strong legs!
1. Resistance Band Squats
To be honest, leg day just doesn’t exist without traditional squats. And this safer squat alternative will put less stress on your lower back while still targeting the quads and hamstrings.
Loop or handle resistance bands will work here, but we’re going to review the loop version.
- Step on the band with both feet and bring the other end of the loop up and over your shoulder caps—grasp the band with a cross-arm grip near your collarbone.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes and knees facing forward.
- With your back straight, drop your butt as if you were sitting in a chair beneath you.
- When the bend in your knees is nearing 90-degrees, stop downward motion.
- Push off the ground with your feet and return to your starting position.
2. Resistance Band Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
No exercise targets the hamstrings as directly as stiff-legged deadlifts. So use this exercise to help your hamstrings catch up to the size and strength of your quads, also hitting your back.
For this one, you’ll need a short resistance band with handles.
- Step with both feet on the center of a short resistance band, with feet about shoulder-width apart or a bit narrower.
- Grab the band’s handles or end and stand up straight—the band should be stretched and around waist-height.
- Keeping your legs and back mostly straight, begin folding over at the hips—your butt will move backward a bit.
- When there’s a nearly 90-degree angle at your hips, stop moving down.
- Use energy from your lower back and hamstrings to return to your starting position.
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3. Resistance Band Deadlifts
Deadlifts are among the “Big Five” that’ll hit nearly every posterior chain muscle, like the hamstring and glutes. Using heavy-duty bands can also help to build grip strength in your hands.
You’ll need a thick, loop resistance band for these deadlifts.
- Lie a loop resistance band on the ground and slip each foot through the end of the loop.
- Sit down into a near-seated position—knees in line with the heels, butt pushed back, a straight back, and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Grasp the center of the band with both hands.
- Using the strength in your legs and in your back, straighten out your legs and back at the same time.
- Squeeze your upper back muscles as you straighten your back at the top.
- Slowly begin lowering yourself back to the starting position.
4. Seated Resistance Band Leg Curls
Leg curls are one of the most effective exercises for isolating the hamstrings. Intentionally targeting this muscle can add inches to your thighs and pair nicely with massive quads.
You need a non-loop band, a door attachment, a chair, and an ankle strap. Or you can use a looped band like in the video below.
- Lodge your band beneath a door using a door attachment or wrap it safely around a pole—the band should be between ground level and a foot off the ground.
- Sit in a chair (or on a bench), hook the ankle attachment or loop around one or both ankles and move the chair back so that your legs are at near full extension in front of you.
- Keeping your upper leg stationary on the chair, bring your ankles down to the chair.
- Once the bend in your leg is less than 90-degrees, hold this position.
- Then, return to the starting position.
5. Resistance Band Seated Leg Extensions
Leg extensions burn like hell, but no exercise targets the quads quite like these. This lowers the risk of other muscles taking over for weak quads while also bulking up the front of your thighs.
You need a bench (or sturdy chair), and a looped resistance band or a band with an ankle attachment.
- Attach one end of a short resistance band to one of the rear legs of a chair.
- Sit on the chair, strap the ankle loop around the ankle on the same side as the leg where the band is attached, and start with a less than 90-degree angle in the leg.
- Keeping your upper leg on the chair, bring your ankle up until your leg is near fully-extended in front of you.
- Pause at the top for a second or two.
- Slowly return back to the starting position.
- Switch legs between sets.
6. Resistance Band Donkey Kicks
Nothing complements bulky thighs better than strong glutes. And building glute strength via donkey kicks can do wonders for your lower body strength, power, and endurance all-around.
All you’ll need is a loop resistance band.
- Get on all fours on the floor with your knees and hands on the ground with a flat back.
- Hook one end of the loop around one ankle and the other end of the loop around the heel of your other shoe.
- With the leg that has the loop around the shoe (not your ankle), slowly bring your leg up until it’s fully-extended behind you.
- Hold the position by squeezing the muscles in your butt.
- Begin lowering your leg back down to the starting position.
7. Lateral Banded Walks
The abductors and gluteus medius are among the most neglected leg muscles. Lateral banded walks target these muscles, improving knee and hip stability for greater overall athleticism.
This exercise calls for a thick, loop band—particularly a hip band.
- Slip a loop band around both legs around ankle-height.
- Get down into a half-squat position with legs together and your hands in front of you.
- Staying in this half-squat position, take a big step to one side, stretching the band in the process.
- Allow the other leg to follow the lead leg, and continue.
- Switch legs with each set.
8. Resistance Band Standing Calf Raises
Standing calf raises target the lower half of the legs. Not only does this steer you away from that scrawny leg look, but the calves also play an essential stabilizing role in exercises like squats.
To do this exercise, you need a handled resistance band and a door attachment.
- Attach the center of the band beneath a door with a door attachment, leaving both ends of the band (and the handles) on your side of the door.
- Take a step or two away from the door, face away, grasp the handles at about shoulder height (similar to shoulder press position) and adopt a slight lean forward.
- With this slight lean forward, lift your heels off the ground so you’re on your toes.
- Squeeze the calves at the top and then lower yourself back toward the ground.
9. Resistance Band Lunges
Squats are the “gold standard” quad exercise, but it’s not unusual for one leg to take over most of the lift. So lunges can target the quad, hamstring, and glute on each side of your body equally.
This one is easy—all it requires is a resistance band with handles.
- Grab the handles of the resistance band in each hand and step one foot onto the center of the resistance band.
- With the leg that’s not on the band, take a step back for a staggered stance—basically, the same stance before a lunge.
- Lower yourself to the ground so that both knees are at a 90-degree angle, keeping your back perfectly straight in the process.
- Push up off the ground with that front leg and return to your starting position.
Remember that there’s much more to leg day than a few sets of squats and deadlifts.
So be sure to add a nice mix of quad, hamstring, and calf exercises to your leg day, especially if you’re swapping in a few resistance band exercises.
The options are nearly limitless, so make good use of them!
Looking for some upper body exercises to balance out your physique? Add these resistance band back exercises to your workouts to build a stronger and wider back!
A Complete Muscle-Building Workout with Resistance Bands
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