Fitness Tips

10 Resistance Band Exercises for Legs That Strengthen and Stretch in No Time

Photo: Getty Images/Vladimir Sukhachev
Resistance bands certainly aren't as intimidating as heavy weights at the gym, yet they bring on similar results. Honestly, they don't get enough credit. Resistance band exercises for legs even let you strengthen while you stretch out tight or sore muscles. Another reason why we love them: If you're new to strength training or just getting back into your groove, they'll give you just the right amount of a challenge while helping you nail down any given exercise before progressing to harder variations. Similar to weight training, doing resistance band exercises will help you improve your strength and can also help you recover from or prevent injury.

"A resistance band, in my opinion, is the best addition for a whole body burn. When you’re pushing against it during an exercise, your muscles have to engage or 'fire up' to fight the tension," says Samantha Jade, creator of BODY by SJ at Project by Equinox and senior instructor at SoulCycle. "While you can use resistance bands for a whole body workout, they're especially great at shaping the legs and booty."

Another perk of doing resistance band exercises for legs is that they're affordable and easy to use anywhere. Whether you're working out in your apartment or packing them in your carry-on for hotel room sweat sessions, you never have to skip a workout again.

Try these 10 resistance band exercises for legs

What you'll need: Resistance bands like this set of five ($12).

1. Lateral band walk

  1. Place a looped resistance band above your knees and lower down coming into a partial squat position.
  2. With your arms forward, chest lifted, and knees bent, lead with your heel and take eight steps to your left. Make sure your feet stay parallel the entire time.
  3. Repeat in the opposite direction, making sure to keep your abs drawn in.

2. Jump squats with bands

  1. Place a looped band above your knees and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lower down into a squat, then jump, propelling yourself upward using the muscles in your legs.
  3. Land softly back in your squat position and repeat.
  4. Do two to three sets of eight reps.

3. Seated banded leg extensions

  1. Find a sturdy chair or bench and attach your resistance band to the leg or base so it loops around your ankle.
  2. With your legs at 90 degrees, feel the resistance as you straighten your right leg. Bring your leg back to 90 degrees as you return to your starting position.
  3. Do a total of 12 reps, then repeat on the left leg.

4. Side leg raises

  1. Grab a mat and lie down on your side with a looped resistance band above your knees.
  2. With your bottom leg bent, straighten your top leg. Keeping your hips level and core tight, slowly raise your leg as high as you can, then lower it so it's hovering above the floor.
  3. Perform 10 reps for a total of two to three sets.

5. Standing rear leg lift

  1. Place a looped resistance band around your lower calves. With your hands on something sturdy to stay balanced—like a wall or a chair—raise one leg straight behind you.
  2. Once you reach the top, squeeze your glutes, then lower back to your starting position.
  3. Repeat 10 to 12 times on each side.

6. Banded step-out

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hinge back into a partial squat position.
  2. With a resistance band around your ankles and your hands on your hips, step out and back in on your right side.
  3. Do 10 to 12 reps on each side. Complete two to three steps.

7. Lying leg curl

  1. Lie on your stomach with your toes pointed down and a resistance band around your ankles.
  2. Bend your right leg at the knee, bringing your foot to a 90-degree angle. Pause, then lower back down to the floor.
  3. Do 10 to 12 reps on each side.

8. Leg extension with resistance band

  1. Lie on your back. Bending your right leg to your chest, hold a resistance band tightly in both hands and place your foot in the center of the loop.
  2. With your left leg bent or extended on the floor, slowly press your right leg out at a 45-degree angle, then slowly bring it back into a 90-degree angle.
  3. Do 12 reps on each side.

9. Clamshells with a resistance band

  1. Place a mini resistance above your knees and then lay on your left side with your hips bent at a 45-degree angle and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Keep your hips and feet stacked, and then lift your right knee up off of the left. Hold for two to three seconds then lower back down.
  3. Repeat for a total of 10 reps. Complete two to three sets on each side.

10. Glute bridge with a resistance band

  1. Place a mini resistance band above your knees then lay on your back.
  2. Engage your core, and with your feet flat on the ground, drive your feet into the ground, squeeze your glutes, and lift your lower back and glutes up and off the ground. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine and keep your head and shoulders on the ground.
  3. Hold for three seconds, then lower back to the ground.
  4. Complete 10 reps. Repeat for a total of three to three sets.

If you really want to target your glutes, you need this workout:

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