“Never skip leg day” is a phrase many of us will be familiar with. It’s easy to forget about working out your upper and lower leg muscles, but if you don’t include targeted leg exercises into your programme you won’t see great progress.
Using bands adds an extra challenge to your workout, but it also means you can fit your workout into your schedule more easily, as you can bring the bands wherever you go.
So if you don’t have time to get down to the gym, you can still complete your daily leg exercises at home, at the office, in the park – wherever you find the time.
We’ve put together a balanced programme of five key exercises which, when done in combination, will give the perfect all-over leg workout, building strength, improving flexibility and mobility and assisting with posture and balance.
This exercise targets your upper leg muscles and hips, in particular your hip abductors and quads. Start off in a quarter squat pose, knees slightly bent and feet planted firmly about shoulder-width apart. Your resistance band should be looped around both thighs, just above your knees, or, for a more challenging workout, you can place the band around your ankles.
Lifting your right foot, take a sideways step, placing your foot down about twelve inches to your right, stretching the band. Then bring your left foot in the same distance, so that your feet are once again shoulder-width apart. That’s one rep. Repeat the exercise for 15 reps, and then switch direction to lead with your left foot for a further 15 reps. If you don’t have space to move 15 steps in one direction, you can alternate between feet for each rep, so you are only moving one step right, and then one step left.
This one is a great way to work on your hamstrings and glutes, and builds both strength and range of movement. To get started, stand straight, with your core tensed, feet around hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Your resistance band should be looped around your ankles, with no slack, but not stretched, just taut.
Now, while remaining careful to keep your balance, move your weight onto your left foot, and as you do so, lift your right foot back and away from your body, keeping your leg straight. Think of it as if you were taking a stride backwards. You should be able to stretch back against the band around eight inches. Smoothly return your leg to the starting position to complete one rep. We recommend you do a set of 15 reps for each leg.
This exercise helps build explosive strength in the quads, glutes and calves. As with the lateral steps exercise mentioned above, for this one you also start off in a quarter squat pose, knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart with the toes pointing forward. Your resistance band can either be looped around your thighs above the knee, or for the advanced version of this exercise, around your ankles.
Keeping your upper body, head and neck stable, and keeping your core tensed, jump, spreading your legs apart as you do so. Land with your feet planted around eight inches further out on each side, compared to the starting position. Jump again to return your feet to the central position, to complete one rep. You should be able to complete 15 to 20 reps in one session.
A great full leg workout, which particularly targets the glutes and quads. This exercise is very similar to the classic bodyweight squat, but using a resistance band adds another dimension and helps to bring the hip abductor muscles into play as well. You’re going to start in the classic quarter squat position, with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent.
With your resistance band looped around your lower thighs, drop into a classic squat. As you lower your body into the squat, push out with your knees against the resistance provided by the band. As you raise yourself back to the starting position, allow your knees to move back inwards in a controlled motion. Don’t let them snap back under the tension of the band. Try to complete 15 to 20 reps, depending on how experienced you are with classic squats.
This is another great exercise to target the glutes and hamstrings, which also works the core and abdominals. To get started, lie down on the floor or on a gym mat with your back flat and knees raised, so your lower legs are almost vertical. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and positioned around hip-width apart from one another. Loop your resistance band around your thighs, just above the knee joint.
Now, use your abdominal muscles, core and glutes to straighten your body, so your hips are raised up from the floor, and your body is straight from your shoulders all the way to your knees. Keep your knees tensed against the band to ensure they are not pulled together during the movement. Carefully return to your starting position to complete one rep.
Remember, as these five exercises use resistance bands, you can increase the level of difficulty as you grow in strength by simply switching out your band for a higher resistance one, or even incorporating multiple bands for an even bigger challenge. You’ll never have an excuse to skip leg day again!
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.