The Ultimate Resistance Band Workout for Leg Day

You don't need dumbbells and barbells to add a challenge to leg day — resistance bands work, too.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

Resistance bands are inexpensive, versatile and easy to store — plus they deliver. This challenge builds full-body strength using only bands. Get all the details on the challenge here.

Leg day workouts don't have to involve gym machines like the squat rack or quad extension thanks to a much more convenient piece of equipment: the resistance band.

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"Adding a resistance band to a leg workout can allow you to mimic certain gym machine movements that would normally be impossible with a dumbbell or barbell," says Tatiana Scott, CPT, personal trainer, founder of Fit With Curves and host of our 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge.

Scott created this lower-body workout full of creative resistance band exercises as part of the challenge, but you can do this routine even if you're not participating in the rest of the month-long program. (You can also try these resistance band calf exercises for more lower-body work.)

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If you're doing the challenge, follow the weekly rep scheme below. If you're doing this resistance band workout on your own, increase or decrease the reps and sets based on your fitness level. You should be able to finish all the reps with good form, but the last two should feel challenging.

In between sets and exercises, rest for 20 to 40 seconds. You won't feel fully rested (like you were before your workout), but you should feel ready to tackle the next set.

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Sets and Reps per Exercise

Front Squat

Split Squat

Leg Press Crunch

Straight-Leg Deadlift

Week 1

1 set of 10

1 set of 10 (each side)

1 set of 15

1 set of 10

Week 2

2 sets of 10

2 sets of 10 (each side)

2 sets of 15

2 sets of 10

Week 3

1 set of 15

1 set of 15 (each side)

1 set of 20

1 set of 15

Week 4

2 sets of 15

2 sets of 15 (each side)

2 sets of 20

2 sets of 15

Try This Resistance Band Leg Workout

For this workout, you'll need a long loop resistance band. If you only have a mini band, check the modifications below each exercise.

1. Long Loop Front Squat 

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Resistance Band Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand on the middle of a long resistance loop with your feet about shoulder-width apart with your toes straight or pointed outward slightly.
  2. Hold the other end of the band with both hands in front of your shoulders.
  3. Brace your core and keep your back straight and upright. Push your hips back and down to lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or as low as you can comfortably go with good form.
  4. From the bottom of your squat, push through your feet to extend your legs and stand back up and repeat.

Tip

If you want to use a mini band, wrap it around both legs just above the knees and perform a squat. This targets your gluteus medius (or "side butt") more than the long-loop version but provides less resistance on your quads.

2. Long Loop Split Squat

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Activity Resistance Band Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Step into one end of the band with your right foot and loop the other end around the back of your shoulders.
  2. Stand with your right foot in front and your left foot a few feet behind.
  3. Lower into a split squat until both knees are bent to 90 degrees. Your left knee should hover just above the ground.
  4. Pause, then drive through your front foot to return to standing, keeping your feet stationary the entire time.
  5. Do all your reps on one side before switching legs.

Tip

You can also try this with a mini loop, but you'll step on it with your right foot and hold the other end in your right hand. Once you've done all your reps, switch to the left foot and left hand.

3. Long Loop Leg Press Crunch

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Activity Resistance Band Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent in toward your chest.
  2. Loop one end of the resistance band around both feet at your arches. Hold the other end with both hands at your chest shoulder-width apart.
  3. Extend both legs out straight as you press your arms overhead. Your arms and legs should hover off the ground.
  4. Bend your knees and elbows back in toward each other to complete the rep, and repeat.

Tip

To modify this move for a mini band, sit up and begin with both knees bent, right foot anchored to the floor and left foot with the band around it. Press your left leg out to straighten it as you lean slightly back (it won't be a full crunch due to the length of the band), then draw it back in. Do the same number of reps on each side.

4. Long Loop Straight-Leg Deadlift 

JW Player placeholder image
Activity Resistance Band Workout
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand on the middle of the band with your feet hip-width apart. Grab each end of the band with one hand. You may need to move your hands down the band toward the middle so there's more tension on the band.
  2. Brace your core as you push your hips back and lower your torso, allowing a very small bend in your knees.
  3. Keeping your hands close to your body, lower until they're at about shin height.
  4. Pause, then push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to stand up tall.
  5. Repeat.

Tip

If you're using a mini band, step on one end with your right foot and hold the other end in your left hand. Do half of the reps, then switch sides and do the other half.

Follow Along With the Challenge

Use the calendar below to help you stay on track with the 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge. Do the workout (or rest day) listed, then check off each day as you complete it. (Get a printer-friendly version here.)

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Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

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