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How to Use Exercise Bands for Legs

Contrary to popular belief, strength training doesn’t require the use of heavy weights.  There are alternatives to big, chunky plates of iron and cement.  Resistance bands are one of these great alternatives.  Not only do they provide the means for a full strength training workout, they have additional benefits as well.  Resistance bands allow you to isolate muscle groups such as the legs, which will be the focus of this article. They also utilize the underworked, smaller muscles that are responsible for things such as balance, joint strength and flexibility.  If you’re looking to understand how to use exercise bands for legs, we’ve created a list of benefits and demonstrated a few key leg exercises.

Benefits of Resistance Bands

When compared with traditional weights, resistance bands have a lot of advantages.  Most obviously they’re super lightweight compared to a set of free weights – and because of this they have a much lower cost.  Resistance bands give you more leg exercise options compared with free weights since you can increase tension on lateral movements – something you can usually only do with a machine when working with weights.  Resistance bands also give you a different type of workout.  When lifting weights, the tension is greatest in the middle of the lift.  With resistance bands, the tension becomes greatest at the apex as the band pulls back.  This helps with control, balance, stability and proper form.  Ultimately resistance bands allow you to do all the exercises you can do with free weights, plus a whole bunch of others.

Resistance Band Selection

Resistance bands come in a variety of tension levels ranging from extra light to extra heavy.  They’re often colour coded to allow for easy distinction between tensions.  When you’re first starting out, getting a range of tensions can be helpful to allow you to try out different exercises and find out what works best for you.  Three different resistance levels – light, medium and heavy – should provide enough options for a full leg workout session.  From there you can expand as necessary.  For a specific exercise, choose a band that allows you to do 12 to 15 repetitions while maintaining your form.  If you’re unable to confidently do 12 reps, move down a tension level.  If performing 15 reps is too easy move up a tension level.

Leg Workout Basics

Once you’ve chosen a series of exercises you should complete them sequentially in a circuit with a one-minute rest between each.  Try to get through three or four rounds of the series.  When it comes to resistance bands, form is more important than large numbers of repetitions.  Part of this has to do with the band maintaining tension throughout the entire exercise.  Remember to maintain focus on your core while performing the movements to ensure your back stays supported.

Standing Kickbacks

Standing kickbacks allow you to work your glutes and hamstrings.  Simply position the band around your ankles with your feet shoulder length apart.  While keeping your core muscles engaged, lift one leg and slowly move it back about six to eight inches before bringing it back to position to complete a single rep.  Keep your hips level, your back straight and ensure your legs are doing all the work. 

Side Leg Lifts

These lifts focus on the hip abductors.  Keep the band around your ankles while lying on your side.  Lift the top leg upwards as far as possible before slowly bringing it back into the initial position to complete the rep.  Keep your legs in line with slow and steady movements.

Clamshells

This exercise works the glutes and obliques.  Wrap the band just above the knees and lie on your side with your knees bent.  Keeping your feet together, lift the top knee upwards as far as possible before slowly bringing it down again.  If you find it hard to stay on your side without leaning back, you might want to use a lower tensioned band.

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