Resistance Band Workout for the Lower Body

woman outdoors performing resistance band leg workout

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Resistance band workouts for the lower body can stand in for a more heavy-duty gym session or provide a challenging home workout for beginners. It can even be useful for those who are unable to use weights.

Using resistance bands can be an excellent way to keep your muscles activated between heavier weight lifting sessions, improve recovery, or provide a stimulus for warming up before strength training or cardio. Read on to learn how to incorporate lower body resistance band workouts into your routine.

Overview of the Workout

You will need a set of resistance bands and an exercise mat for this lower body resistance band workout, which targets your hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, quads, and calves. While anyone can benefit from this workout, more advanced exercisers may not get enough of a challenge to build strength or muscle size, especially with compound movements like the squat.

That said, this series of movements creates a sufficiently challenging workout for preserving muscle, travel, or active rest days for more experienced lifters. Performing this workout as a one-set warm-up circuit or stand-alone light session with 15-second rests between exercises will take about 10 minutes. If you choose to do a complete four-set workout, with 60-second rests between sets, it will take you about 1 hour.

The Workout

This resistance band workout for the lower body can be used as a warm-up by performing five reps of each exercise before moving on to your strength training routine. Or, you can do it as a stand-alone workout by performing three to four sets of 15 to 20 reps.

Resistance bands typically are not heavy enough to perform high-weight and low-repetition workouts. Plus, doing so could cause too much tension and not allow a full range of motion. This can also cause joint strain on your knees, low back, and hips.

Sticking to higher reps and lower weight is best. But, to ensure your workout is sufficiently challenging, aim to feel as though you could not perform more than five more reps maximum at the end of each set.

Research shows conventional resistance training causes higher muscle activation levels in the prime movers during all exercises than muscle activation levels achieved using resistance bands.

The differences between bands and conventional training occur primarily when bands become slack but can challenge muscles enough when bands are stretched in the end ranges of the movements. This means keeping the tension throughout the exercises as best you can is essential.

Stiff-Legged Deadlift

resistance band deadlift

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Stiff-legged deadlifts are a hamstring and glute exercise that have been shown to work well as a resistance band exercise in terms of muscle activation. Remember to keep the tension in the band throughout the movement. Here is how to do the stiff-legged deadlift.

  1. Stand on the middle of a resistance band with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the ends of the band in each hand.
  2. Hinge your hips toward the wall behind you, pressing your glutes back.
  3. Keep your spine neutral with a slight extension in your lower back to compensate for the tendency to round your spine during this movement.
  4. Press your knees back to fully activate your hamstrings and keep your chest high as you continue to lower it toward the floor.
  5. Reverse the motion once you feel a full stretch in your hamstrings.
  6. Contract your glutes and use your hamstrings to raise your body back to standing. This part of the movement is where you will gain the most benefit so try to feel the muscles working.
  7. Aim for 15 to 20 repetitions.

You can also perform this exercise as a single-leg movement. But, if you do, ensure your hips remain level and your core braced. You may wish to hold something sturdy for balance.

Lateral Band Walk

resistance band side step

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The lateral band walk—sometimes called the monster walk or the x-band walk—targets your glutes and hip flexors while providing some activation for your calves, hamstrings, and quads. You can increase the challenge by squatting lower while performing this movement. Here is how to do the lateral band-walk.

  1. Step inside a tied or loop style resistance band with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees slightly, keeping your chest up. The band can be around your thighs or just above your ankles.
  3. Step to the right slowly with your right foot, then follow with your left foot.
  4. Continue stepping to the right for all reps, then switch to the left foot leading and perform the same number of reps.
  5. Aim for 15 to 20 per side.

Lower body resistance band workouts like this one—which includes hip and glute strengthening exercises—have been shown to improve balance, coordination, muscle strength, and walking speed. Done consistently, this workout can help improve quality of life and functional fitness and decrease the risks of falls and injuries.

Glute Kickback

resistance band glute kickback

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Hip extension is an essential joint action for everyday movements like standing, stepping, and waking and sporting actions like running, sprints, and jumping. Glute kickbacks—also referred to as donkey kicks or quadruped leg extensions—are a glute isolation exercise using hip extension. This movement targets the gluteus maximus, which is the largest glute muscle. Here is how to do a glute kickback.

  1. Get on the ground on all fours.
  2. Hold the ends of a resistance band in each hand with the middle of the band looped around your right foot. The band should be taught.
  3. Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine as you press your right leg behind you, angled slightly upward.
  4. Reverse your leg to the starting position slowly with control.
  5. Make sure you do not allow your knee or toes to touch the floor before repeating all reps.
  6. Aim for 15 to 20 reps.

Pull-Throughs

Pull-throughs work your glutes and hip flexors with help from your hamstrings and core. The contraction at the very top of the movement is where you'll feel it most. Here is how to do a pull-through.

  1. Anchor a band to a steady object behind you and face away from it.
  2. Bend at your knees and grasp the ends of the band in both hands.
  3. Keep your knees bent and pull the band up between your knees.
  4. Keep a firm grip on the band as you extend your knees and drive your hips forward using your glutes.
  5. Keep your back straight and core engaged. Don't let your chest cave or your shoulders hunch.
  6. Hold the top contraction, squeezing your glutes and bracing your core.
  7. Reverse slowly to the starting position and repeat for 15 to 20 total reps.

Glute Bridge

woman performing glute bridge with loop band

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Glute bridges are a highly effective glute exercise that can be performed using a band to increase the tension at the top. You'll also work your lower back and quads during this movement. You can use a straight band pinned at your sides or a loop band around your thighs for this exercise. Here is how to do a glute bridge.

  1. Lay on your back on an exercise mat with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent.
  2. Position the resistance band across your hips and hold the ends with your hands at your sides. Alternatively, loop a band around your thighs.
  3. Lift your hips against the resistance until your shoulders to knees form a straight line. If using a loop band, press your thighs out against the resistance to keep your glutes activated.
  4. Hold this position for a count, then slowly lower your hips to the floor.
  5. Repeat for 15 to 20 reps.

Hip Abduction

two women on beach performing resistance band abduction

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The resistance band hip abduction is a quadriceps exercise that can be quite challenging. The trick is to use a band that stays taut throughout the movement but still allows a full range of motion.

  1. Stand with a loop band around your ankles, or with a cuff attachment around your ankle and the band looped around a steady object.
  2. Lift your right leg out to the right side, slowly and with control.
  3. Feel the contraction in your right quad and outer hip. Your left quad and outer hip will also be activated while they work to steady you.
  4. Pause for a count and slowly return your right leg to standing.
  5. Repeat for 15 to 20 rep before switching sides.

Safety and Precautions

Always inspect your bands before using them to ensure they are not damaged or brittle. Bands that snap while in use can cause pain and injury. You also should anchor your bands using a fixed point that will not break or slip.

Keep your form throughout the exercise and always brace your core while performing band exercises as you must work to maintain your position against the pulling force. If the resistance level of the band you are using causes you to break your form or induces joint strain, you should find a different band.

A Word From Verywell

Resistance band lower body workouts are a great way of effectively and efficiently working your muscles at home, during travel, or in between gym sessions. Bands are also useful for stand-alone workout programs so long as you progress the movements and stay challenged. If you are unsure about your form or how to perform any of these movements, get direction from a certified personal trainer.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do resistance bands build muscle?

    Resistance bands are not the best tool for muscle growth, but they still work, especially if you are a beginner. To build muscle, you must ensure you are sufficiently challenged and you should progress your workouts over time, adding volume over your training cycle.

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of resistance bands?

    The advantages of resistance bands include efficiency, convenience, cost, and versatility. The disadvantages include insufficient resistance throughout the entire movement, incorrectly placed tension during some movements, risk of knee injury during squats, and difficulty tracking progression.

  • Is it OK to work out with resistance bands every day?

    It is OK to work out with resistance bands every day. Resistance bands provide a light to medium workout and you can alternate muscle groups each day to target your entire body over the course of the week. Wait 24 hours before working the same muscle group again, though.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Iversen VM, Mork PJ, Vasseljen O, Bergquist R, Fimland MS. Multiple-joint exercises using elastic resistance bands vs. conventional resistance-training equipment: A cross-over study. European Journal of Sport Science. 2017;17(8):973-982. doi:10.1080/17461391.2017.1337229

  3. Vafaeenasab MR, Kuchakinejad Meybodi N, Fallah HR, Ali Morowatisharifabad M, Namayandeh SM, Beigomi A. The effect of lower limb resistance exercise with elastic band on balance, walking speed, and muscle strength in elderly women. EHJ. Published online July 2, 2019. doi:10.18502/ehj.v5i1.1201

  4. Macadam P, Feser EH. Examination of gluteus maximus electromyographic excitation associated with dynamic hip extension during body weight exercise: A systematic review. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2019;14(1):14-31. PMID:30746289

  5. Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, et al. Gluteus maximus activation during common strength and hypertrophy exercises: a systematic review. J Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(1):195-203.

  6. Reece MB, Arnold GP, Nasir S, Wang WW, Abboud R. Barbell back squat: how do resistance bands affect muscle activation and knee kinematics? BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. 2020;6(1):e000610. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000610

By Rachel MacPherson, BA, CPT
Rachel MacPherson is a health writer, certified personal trainer, and exercise nutrition coach based in Montreal.