Resistance bands are a great tool to build strength, size and definition in your legs. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need heavy weights and a gym to get some leg gains. Squats are the most popular and widely used leg exercise out there so grab your bands, it’s time to cover Resistance Band Squats.
It’s common knowledge that you should never skip leg day, right? So grab your bands and let’s get ready to squat!
This post is going to explain how to do a resistance band squat, the proper techique, recommended rep ranges, cadence, how to choose the right band and we’ll finish with a list of additional squat variations.
HOW TO DO A RESISTANCE BAND SQUAT
There are a few different ways to do a resistance band squat but for the sake of this post, let’s focus on the front squat which is my go-to banded squat.
STEP 1: Start by stepping on to the band, squatting down and then bringing the band up on to the front parts of your shoulders just in front of the lowest part of your neck.
Make sure there are no bends or twists in the band. It should be flat all the way around.
You’ll notice that you’ve created a rectangular frame with the resistance band.
Your hands are going to be holding the band just in front of your neck (palms down) which will force your elbows to pass through this frame you’re creating with the resistance band.
You can either cross your arms or not.
STEP 2: Bring your elbows up while maintaining a hold on the bands.
The benefits to having your elbows up are two fold.
The first is that it will prevent the band from slipping down off your shoulders and potentially snapping down towards your feet.
The second benefit is that with your elbows up, it promotes a straight back and good posture when performing your squat.
At this point, you can slowly stand up.
You should feel that the band has quite a bit of resistance.
That’s exactly what you want to be feeling since the band is now stretched. This is the maximum resistance for the squat movement.
Double check that your feet are at about shoulder-width distance and they are slightly rotated outwards (10° or so). Whatever feels comfortable for you since every body is a little different as far as flexibility goes.
This is your starting position.
Before you drop down, remember to keep your head level. Don’t let your chin come too far down and don’t let it come up.
Keep your eyes out in front throughout the entire range of the squat.
STEP 3: Bend your knees and sit down into the squat.
You should come as close to 90° as possible while keeping your head level and your back straight (no slouching or bending over).
Focus on having most of your weight over the heels of your feet. When you do this, your hips and glutes will shift backwards.
On your first rep, you may need to adjust the positioning of your hands and feet on the band so it’s comfortable for you and there aren’t any pressure points.
STEP 4: When you’re ready to come back up, focus on driving the power through your heels, squeezing your glutes and driving your hips forward.
The action of squeezing your glutes also helps drive your hips forward and return them back to a neutral position stacked underneath your core.
There you have it. One rep complete. That’s how to do a banded squat.
But how many reps should you be doing?
REP RANGES & CADENCE
Let’s get one thing out of the way. If you’re used to squatting with 2, 3 or 4 plates and beyond, no band is going to be able to replace that kind of weight.
So we need to adjust our approach.
Instead of doing a standard set of 6-10 reps with heavy weight, focus on solid technique, controlling the movement, pausing at the bottom and aiming for a higher rep range.
Your ideal rep range should replicate how your legs typically feel after a heavy set of 6-10 reps with a barbell.
That could be 20 reps…30 reps…40 reps. This depends on your level of strength, band selection and cadence.
What I mean by cadence is the speed of the squat and any pauses during the movement.
Slow down your cadence on the way down into your squat (3 seconds). This makes your muscles work harder for a longer period of time. This is the eccentric part of the squat movement.
There’s also the fact that eccentric movements and training (in this case going down into the squat) promotes greater muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Slower squats mean more time under tension so take your time.
Control it on the way down, pause at the bottom and then come back up more explosively.
If this is STILL too easy and you’re getting to 30 reps with a 3 count on the way down with a 1 second pause at the bottom, your band is too light.
So let’s talk about band selection.
WHICH RESISTANCE BAND SHOULD I USE TO SQUAT?
Legs are a big muscle so you’ll need to step up to a larger band.
The smaller 0.5″ red resistance band isn’t going to cut it for most people.
If you’re a regular at the gym and have a good level of fitness, a 1.25″ (25-80 lbs) or 1.75″ (50-125 lbs) resistance band is a good starting point.
Bands can go up to 2.5″ and even 3.25″ which provides a massive amount of resistance: 60-150 lbs and 70-175 lbs respectively.
30 reps using the 60-150 lbs band will definitely get your legs burning.
But I’m just talking about using one band at a time…
You can actually double up on bands.
Grab 2 bands and you’ve just created another resistance level.
You could even go to 3 if you’re feeling extra adventurous but I’d personally limit it to 2.
Having 2 bands also makes it super easy to perform a drop set once you start to hit exhaustion. Just drop one of the bands and keep going.
Different squat variations.
RESISTANCE BAND SQUAT VARIATIONS
There are a few different squat variations that you can also mix into your workouts. Here’s a short list of squat-based exercises you can do with resistance bands.
- Resistance Band Back Squats
- Resistance Band Bulgarian Split Squats
- Resistance Band Pistol Squats
- Resistance Band Reverse Split Squats
- Resistance Band Overhead Squat
- Lateral Squat with Resistance Band
- Squat Pulse with Resistance Band
So that covers Squats with Resistance Bands.
Now you’re equipped with the knowledge of how to perform a quality banded front squat with great form, what rep ranges you should be aiming for, cadence tips on how to change the difficulty as well as selecting the right band.
Once again, the high level takeaways are:
- Aiming for a higher rep range (20-30)
- Experiment with your squat cadence (pause at the bottom, slow on the way down for an eccentric burn)
- If it’s too easy, grab a thicker band
- Gain additional ranges of resistance by doubling up on bands
If you enjoyed this post or have any questions, be sure to leave a comment below!
Looking for some more resistance band exercises? Check out these posts: