10 Best Leg Exercises With Bands

10 Best Leg Exercises With Bands

Want to step up your leg workouts at home but don’t have the space (or budget) for bulky machines? Leg exercises with bands might be the quick fix that you’re looking for! They can help work different parts of your leg that you might’ve been neglecting and can deliver surprisingly impressive results. So if you don’t already have some, grab yourself a set of resistance bands — they’re a great addition to your home gym and strength training routine.

Whether it’s the small loops or the longer bands with handles, it’s hard to beat the versatility of resistance bands. “They’re cheap, lightweight, and useful for everyone from rank beginners to the seasoned experts,” says Angelo Poli, ISSN, author of MetPro: The Science to Transform.

Depending on how you anchor them and what move you perform, bands allow you to work in virtually any plane — side to side, rotationally, forward, and back — helping you target muscles and movements that are hard to hit any other way.

This is particularly useful when you’re training the lower body, and it can help with injury prevention and overall development. Add the 10 moves below to your list of go-to leg exercises.

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1. Clamshells

  • Place a short resistance loop around your thighs, just above your knees.
  • Lie on your left side with your legs and feet stacked, and your knees and hips bent 90 degrees.
  • Keeping your feet together, raise your right knee as far as possible.
  • Pause, lower your knee slowly, and repeat.
  • Complete a full set of reps on your right side, then turn over and perform the same number on your left.

 

2. Deadlifts

  • Holding one handle of a resistance band in each hand, place your feet shoulder-width apart on the middle of the band. Keep them there for the duration of the exercise.
  • With an overhand grip, hold the handles at chest height, pulling the band taut.
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Keeping your shoulders back and your lower back in its natural arch, fold your torso forward until you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings.
  • Pause, return to the starting position, and repeat.

 

3. Donkey Kicks

  • Start on hands and knees with a resistance loop around your ankles.
  • With your left hand, reach back and slide the band around your left ankle over your left heel, so that it loops around the bottom of your foot. Come back to all fours (this is your starting position).
  • Keeping your feet flexed, your upper body still, and your legs bent 90 degrees, kick the sole of your left foot towards the ceiling, contracting your left glute hard.
  • Pause, return to the starting position, and repeat.
  • Complete a full set of reps with your left leg, then switch the position of the exercise band and perform the same number of reps with your right.

 

4. Fire Hydrants

  • Start on hands and knees with a resistance loop around your thighs, just above your knees.
  • Lift your left lower leg and foot one inch off the floor (this is your starting position).
  • Raise your left knee directly out to your right side.
  • Pause for a moment, return to the starting position, and repeat for reps.
  • Perform the same number of reps with your right leg.

 

5. Glute Bridges

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Place a resistance loop around your thighs, just above your knees.
  • Contract your abdomen and keep it tight throughout the movement.
  • Press your feet into the floor, raising your pelvis until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Hold the top position for a two-count.
  • Slowly reverse the movement — don’t just collapse your hips — and return to the starting position.

 

6. Glute Bridge Clamshells

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Place a resistance loop around your thighs, just above your knees.
  • Contract your abdomen and keep it tight throughout the movement.
  • Press your feet into the floor, raising your pelvis until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. This is your starting position.
  • Keeping your feet on the floor, slowly spread your knees as far as possible.
  • Hold for a one-count, slowly return to the starting position, and repeat for reps.

 

7. Glute Kickbacks

  • Stand upright with feet slightly apart and a resistance loop around your ankles. Shift your weight onto your left foot. This is your starting position.
  • Without bending forward, bend your right knee slightly and slowly push your right leg behind you as far as possible.
  • Squeeze your right glute as hard as possible for a one-count, then return to the starting position. Repeat for reps.
  • Perform the same number of reps with your left leg.

 

8. Lateral Walks

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width, toes pointed forward. Place a resistance loop around your thighs, just above your knees. Assume a half-squat position. This is your starting position.
  • Take a large step directly to your right with your right foot, then “catch up” the same distance with your left foot. Do not bring your feet together.
  • Repeat twice more.
  • Repeat the same sequence, this time stepping to your left.
  • Alternate in this manner — three steps right, three steps left — for the duration of the set.

 

9. Squat Overhead Presses

  • Stand, holding the handles of a medium-length resistance band.
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the middle of the band and keep them there for the duration of the exercise.
  • Hold the handles at shoulder height, palms facing away from you.
  • Keeping your back straight, your gaze forward, and your chest up, bend at the knees and drive your hips back, dropping as low as you can without pitching forward.
  • Keeping your shoulders back and your lower back in its natural arch, reverse the move and stand.
  • Press the handles to arm’s length overhead.
  • Pause, slowly lower the handles to shoulder height, and repeat.

 

10. Step Back Taps

  • Stand upright with a resistance loop around your ankles. Shift your weight onto your left foot.
  • Without bending forward, step directly backward with your right foot, tapping the ball of your foot to the floor.
  • Reverse the move, stepping back to the starting position.
  • Repeat the move with your left leg.
  • Alternate sides for the prescribed number of reps.
Andrew Heffernan CSCS, GCFP

About

Andrew Heffernan, CSCS, GCFP is a fitness coach, Feldenkrais practitioner, and an award-winning health and fitness writer. His work appears regularly in Men's Health and Experience Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. Learn more at andrewheffernan.com