The Best Ways to Do Resistance Band Squats

Ready to feel the burn? Take your bodyweight leg workout to the next level by adding these resistance band squats to your routine. 

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Resistance bands have gotten a major image upgrade as of late. Previously, when you thought of resistance bands, images of elderly folks exercising and '80s workout videos were probably the first things to pop into your mind. But the idea that this accessible, budget-friendly piece of workout equipment can't seriously strengthen your muscles or grow your booty is as much of a myth as the concept that rest days are for the weak.

In fact, resistance bands are the key to amping up the intensity of your bodyweight exercises, and most particularly, squats, says Dannah Bollig, a certified personal trainer and the creator of The DE Method. "Resistance bands will target and activate your glutes throughout the entire movement way more than a squat would alone, due to adding resistance and adding time under tension to those muscles that are being targeted," she says. (

When you're performing a bodyweight squat, your muscles mostly get challenged when you push out of your squat and return to standing, aka the concentric portion of the movement when your muscles shorten or contract. By looping a large resistance band under your feet and over your shoulders, your muscles will need to push through even more resistance to get back to standing (almost as if the squat was weighted), and those muscles will also have to fight the pull of the resistance band when you're sinking down into your squat, aka the eccentric portion of the movement when the muscles lengthen, says Bollig. The result: Your muscles are working under tension throughout the entire movement, which increases muscle breakdown, and, with proper recovery, can help them grow back stronger, Alena Luciani, M.S., C.S.C.S., founder of Training2XL, previously told Shape.

Having a physical band wrapped around your body will also help establish a strong muscle-mind connection, which can make your squats much more effective, says Bollig. For example, let's say you loop a small-loop resistance band (aka a miniband) around your thighs and then drop it low in a squat; your knees should be directly above your toes, but if they start to cave inward, you'll feel the tension in the resistance band loosening up. This sensation will remind you to get your knees back into place and engage your glutes and hip abductors, ultimately improving your performance and ensuring you execute the squat safely. "That's why they can be much more beneficial than bodyweight squats because you actually have something that's holding you accountable throughout the entire movement," says Bollig.

To get the most burn out of your workout, use small-loop bands (Buy It, $11, amazon.com) and long-loop bands (Buy It, $34, amazon.com), both of which can be used for virtually every squat imaginable. "If you're trying to replicate a barbell squat in a gym, then those longer loop bands are going to be your go-to," she says. "You actually can replicate it by holding the band across your shoulders, as you would a barbell, and securing it under both of your feet, and then sinking down into that squat. That way you'll be adding resistance on the way down and on the way up." (For other workouts, try these best-selling resistance bands.)

Fit Simplify Small Loop Resistance Bands

Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands
Amazon

LEEKEY Long Loop Resistance Band Set

LEEKEY Resistance Band Set
Amazon

Ready to add resistance band squats to your leg day routine? Try Bollig's go-to moves below. "This is amazing because you're getting a little cardio aspect into the workout, you're fatiguing your muscles in a safe way, and you're getting a great overall workout," she explains.

12-Minute Resistance Band Squat Workout

How it works: Do each move for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds before moving onto the next move. Repeat the circuit a total of 3 times.

You'll need: a large-loop resistance band and a small-loop resistance band.

Resistance Band Sumo Squat

This banded squat is ideal for growing your booty, and as it gets stronger, you can make the exercise more intense by holding both straps of the band, rather than just one, says Bollig.

A. Stand with feet comfortably wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Secure one side of a long-loop resistance band under both feet. Grip one or two pieces of the free band in the middle with both hands, palms facing toward thighs, arms still fully extended toward the floor.Draw shoulders down and away from ears.

B. Keeping chest lifted, back flat, and core engaged, bend knees and shift hips back to lower into a squat.

C. Press through the center of the feet and engage the glutes to return to standing.

Repeat for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.

Resistance Band Goblet Squat

While a traditional goblet squat uses kettlebells or dumbbells to work your lower body, you can grab a long-loop resistance band and still get the job done.

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes angled slightly outward. Secure one side of the resistance band under both feet and grip the free end of the resistance band both hands at chest height, palms facing each other, to create a triangle shape with the band. Draw shoulders down and away from ears.

B. Keeping chest lifted, back flat, and core engaged, bend knees and shift hips back to lower into a squat. Pause when thighs are parallel to the ground or when hips are as low as is comfortable, keeping the resistance band close to the chest.

C. Press through the center of the feet and engage the glutes to return to standing.

Repeat for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.

Resistance Band Squat with Alternating Lateral Leg Raise

Not only will this resistance band squat target ~all~ the muscles in your booty, but it will also strengthen your core and back, as they'll need to work extra hard to keep you stable while extending your legs out to the side, says Bollig.

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, with a small-loop band wrapped around thighs a few inches above knees. Draw shoulders down and away from ears.

B. Keeping chest lifted, back flat, and core engaged, bend knees and shift hips back to lower into a squat.

C. Press through the center of the feet and engage the glutes to return to standing.

D. Raise right leg out to the side as high as you can without shifting hips; keep left leg straight and knee soft. Return to starting position. Switch sides and repeat.

Repeat for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.

Resistance Band Split Squat

With a long-loop resistance band wrapped around your shoulders, you'll get its benefits when you sink down into the squat and press up to standing, which challenges your stabilizer muscles and maximizes results, says Bollig.

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart and take one step forward with the right foot. Secure one side of a long-loop resistance band under the right foot and loop the other side over both shoulders (think of how you'd hold a barbell in a back squat).

B. Keeping chest lifted, back flat, and core engaged, lower body until both knees are at 90-degree angles, ensuring that the right knee doesn't extend past the front toes.

C. Press through the center of the feet and engage the glutes to return to start.

Repeat for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.

Double-Loaded Resistance Band Squat

If you're looking to put your muscles to the test, try this double-whammy of a move. You'll have a small-loop band pushing the limits of your outer thighs and butt, and a long-loop band providing added resistance from the top, just like a barbell squat, says Bollig. "This allows for a multi-planar resistance challenge for your entire body," she explains. (BTW, did you know you can add resistance bands to weighted moves to fake heavier weights at home?)

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart on one side of a long-loop band, the other side of the band resting across the top of shoulders, and a small-loop band wrapped around thighs a few inches above knees. Draw shoulders down and away from ears.

B. Keeping chest lifted, back flat, and core engaged, bend knees and shift hips back to lower into a squat.

C. Press through the center of the feet and engage the glutes to return to standing.

Repeat for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.

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