Looking for the perfect piece of at-home gym equipment? Nope, it's not a set of dumbbells — it's a resistance band.
At-home workouts are arguably the safest, most economical, and most convenient form of exercise — particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can squeeze in grueling, sweat-inducing workouts right from your living room, without having to drive to a gym, find parking, or fight over the squat racks.
Resistance band exercises are ideal for at-home workouts. Resistance bands are affordable, easy to store, and (as the name entails) add resistance to your strength workouts. Plus, unlike dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells, a resistance band workout is travel-friendly. Once the pandemic is over, you can easily toss your resistance bands into your carry-on, so you can work out while on vacation or home for the holidays.
Today, I’ll walk you through one of my favorite resistance band exercises: resistance band squats. I'll explain which resistance bands to use for which exercises, and how to modify the exercise to suit your fitness level.
How To Do Resistance Band Squats 3 Ways
Like bodyweight squats, there are numerous resistance band squat variations. Below, I’ll describe how to do resistance band squats in three different ways. Plus, I’ll tell you how to progress and modify each exercise to suit your fitness level.
Remember to begin any strength training workout with a proper warm-up. Since the squat targets your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, I recommend beginning your workout with glute activation exercises (which — ironically — also require resistance bands). Begin with resistance band clamshells, glute bridges, and standing hip abduction to wake up your posterior chain.
Note: I use different resistance bands for the various exercises listed below. I recommend buying several resistance bands online — again, they're incredibly affordable and easy to store, and will make a significant impact on your workout.
1. Theraband Squat
If you're looking to give your glutes a little extra work, you may want to try the theraband squat. To perform this squat, you'll need to purchase a theraband — or mini-band — off Amazon (affiliate link). I recommend buying a pack of different resistance.
To start, wrap the theraband around both quadriceps, slightly above your knees. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Be mindful of your knees — the theraband will force your knees to cave in, but it's your job to keep your knees pointed out (giving your glutes a little extra love).
Roll your shoulders back and down, and brace your core. Push your butt back toward the wall behind you, lowering into a parallel squat. When you reach parallel, return to your starting position, being careful to keep your knees pointed outward. Squeeze your glutes when you reach a standing position.
- Modification: If this is too challenging, or you can't stop your knees from caving in, switch to a lighter resistance band (this is where buying a pack comes in handy) or lose the band completely.
- Progression: If you're looking to increase the challenge, add a pulse at the bottom of the squat. Otherwise, you can add a pulse at the bottom and a hop at the top (i.e. change it to a jump squat and pulse).
2. Resistance Band Squats
For this exercise, you'll need a longer resistance band. The thicker the band, the more resistance you'll receive from the exercise.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. In this squat exercise, place the center of the band directly underneath your feet, so the ends of the band form two loops.
Now, here's where things get tricky: Your goal is to keep the resistance band taught throughout the entirety of the exercise. To do this, I recommend starting from a parallel squat position (NOT a standing position). This allows you to "choke up" on the band, ensuring you keep resistance on the band even when your grip is closer to the ground.
When you have a solid grip, sit back on your heels, brace your core, and keep your chest proud (don't allow yourself to slouch forward). Now, stand up. Be sure to keep your knees pointed outward as you stand. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and return to a parallel squat position.
- Modification: To decrease the resistance, simply loosen your grip on the band, allowing more give throughout the movement.
- Progression: To increase the challenge of this exercise, extend your arms straight overhead, in an overhead squat. Not only does this allow you to maintain proper form (preventing you from hunching over) as you would in a front squat, it also helps target your abdominal muscles, thereby protecting your lower back from injury.
3. Single Leg Banded Squat
The single-leg banded squat is very similar to the resistance band squat listed in #2. The key difference is you will isolate one leg, thereby targeting your glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings.
Start in a resting lunge position, with your right leg forward and your left foot backward, with your left knee and right foot connected with the ground. Loop the band underneath the bottom of your right foot, grabbing hold of both sides of the band. Again, choke up on the band so the band is taught, even at the bottom of the movement.
Roll your shoulders back and down, squeeze your right glute, and brace your core (remember, the front leg is doing the work — the back leg is just there for stability). Now, stand up, keeping your knee stable (don't allow it to cave inward) and your right glute braced. Do all reps on your right leg before switching to your left leg.
- Modification: To decrease the resistance, simply loosen your grip on the resistance band.
- Progression: To increase the challenge, you can add a hop to the top of this movement, allowing your right foot to come a few centimeters off the ground. Or, to really build strength in your posterior chain, you can transition from a single leg squat to a single leg deadlift. When you reach the top of the movement, transfer all of your weight onto your right foot, allowing your left leg to hover parallel above the ground (in a "warrior 3" pose), so your entire body forms a capital letter "T."
Add Resistance Band Squats To Your At-Home Workout Routine
Resistance band squats are one of the most effective exercises to try at home. Resistance bands are lighter, smaller, and more easily stored than free weights, yet offer a grueling workout.
Resistance band squats target several muscle groups, including your hamstrings, quadriceps, abdominals, and glutes, creating a full-body workout in a single movement. Plus, you can easily modify or progress the movement to suit your fitness level.
Resistance band squats should be part of a well-balanced fitness program, encompassing all four pillars of 4 Legs Fitness (resistance training, cardio, recovery, and nutrition). To add a cardio component to resistance band squats, try adding a pulse or hop to the top of the movement. To focus on strength, choose a thicker (heavier) resistance band. After your workout, consume a high-quality protein source, and foam roll your lower body muscles — paying extra attention to your quads and glutes.
To follow a well-programmed workout routine designed by a personal trainer, try the Build Bullet-Proof Health program. For less than a pizza, you get detailed workout, recovery, and nutrition plans for a whole month, to help build a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.
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