Leg day isn't leg day without weights, right? Not necessarily: With a set of resistance bands, you can take foundational body-weight exercises and make them more challenging as your fitness level increases. And that's essential if you want to continue to get even stronger.
Peter Marino, CPT, certified personal trainer and owner of Posh Fitness, an online personal training platform, created this leg resistance band workout with a slight twist on your usual lower-body workout — adding shoulders into the mix.
"Shoulders are one of the weakest muscle groups for most people," Marino says. "Working shoulders with legs minimizes overworking the delts, because the leg routine uses little to no shoulder work." If you're doing our 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge, you're getting lots of shoulder work from the other workouts, too!
While this workout was designed as part of the challenge, you can do this routine even if you're not participating in the monthlong program.
If you're doing the challenge, follow the weekly rep scheme below. If you're doing this 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.
Ideally, there will be tension on the band before you start any exercise. The exercise should then get progressively harder as you move through the range of motion until the middle of the exercise when the band — or you — feels close to the limit (but not at the limit).
Try This Resistance Band Legs and Shoulders Workout
For this workout, you'll need a long loop band or one with handles. You'll also need a mini loop for two of these exercises, but you can also go without.
Then you'll do the two exercises in each round below back-to-back. In between rounds, rest for 30 to 45 seconds. You won't feel fully rested (like you were before your workout), but you should feel ready to tackle the next round.
Sets and Reps Per Exercise
10 to 15
1. Front Squat
- Step into a long band, standing securely in the middle of the band with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold one end of the band in each hand and bring your hands to shoulder height, palms facing up. The top of the band should be across your chest, and the whole band should be in a rectangular shape.
- Bracing your core and keeping your back straight, push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering down until your thighs are parallel with the floor (or as low as you can comfortably go).
- Press through your feet to stand back up.
For a band with handles, hold one handle in each hand in front of your shoulders and perform a squat as described above.
2. Upright Row
- Step both feet on the center of a long band so your feet are hip-width apart.
- Hold the other end of the band with both hands. Grip it with each hand in front of your thighs, palms facing in. The band should form a square.
- Keep your hands close to your body and slowly lift the band in front of your torso, until your elbows reach shoulder height.
- Reverse the movement to bring your hands back to the starting position.
You can do this with a band with handles, but you will likely need to "choke up" on the band by grabbing farther down below the handles.
3. Frog Pump
- Lie on your back with a mini loop around your thighs.
- Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet together, letting your knees fall out to the sides, creating a diamond shape with your legs.
- With your weight in the outer edges of your feet, squeeze your glutes to raise them toward the ceiling.
- Pause, then slowly lower back to the floor.
The mini loop around your thighs makes sure your knees don't fall too far out. If the thin rubber of standard mini loops cuts into your legs, we find these fabric bands are much more comfortable.
4. Reverse Lunge
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a long loop band anchored under your right foot.
- Hold the other end of the band with both hands in front of your shoulders.
- Keeping your weight in your right leg, step your left foot back a few feet.
- Bend both knees to 90 degrees to lower into a lunge, lowering until your left knee hovers just above the ground.
- Pause and drive through your right foot to return to standing.
- Do all your reps on one side before switching legs.
You can also try holding one handle of a band in each hand and performing your lunges, or wrapping a mini band around your thighs for a slightly different variation.
5. Bird Dog
- While standing, loop one end of a long resistance band around your right hand and the other end around your left foot, securing it on the arch of your foot.
- Lower down to all fours — hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Reach your right arm straight out in front of you until it's in line with your ear.
- Simultaneously reach your left leg straight behind you, fully extending your knee.
- Reverse the motion and return to all fours.
- Repeat all your reps on one side before switching your band over to the left arm and right foot.
Traditionally, the bird dog exercise is categorized as a core exercise. But when you add a long band (as shown above), you're recruiting a lot of strength and stability from your shoulders, hips and glutes.
6. Romanian Deadlift
- Step into a long band, standing securely on the middle of the band. Spread your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Loop the top portion around the upper part of your shoulders and back (near your neck but not on your neck).
- Hold each side of the band in each hand at your hips.
- Hinge forward at your hips as if you were pushing a door closed behind you with your butt. Keep your knees mostly straight but not locked. Do not allow your low back to round forward.
- Lift your chest and squeeze your hips forward as you come into an upright position.
- Hold this for two seconds, then return to the hip-hinged position.
7. Leopard Crawl With Band Around Wrists
- Loop a mini band around your wrists.
- Start in a quadruped position with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Press your hands into the ground and lift your knees a few inches off the ground, keeping your back flat.
- Moving laterally, walk one hand and the opposite foot to the side at the same time. Your hands will be spread apart as your feet come together and vice versa.
- Follow with your other hand and opposite foot.
- Take 3 steps to one side, then 3 back to the start. That's 1 rep.
Like the bird dog, crawls use the muscles of your core. Adding a resistance band around your wrists makes sure you feel this move in the outer portion of your shoulders. Keeping good form and a flat back will ensure you feel this in your quads, too.
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.)
Back to the 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge