Written By: Chloe Wilson, BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board
Theraband exercises for legs are a great way to build up strength and stability in your own home.
Theraband is a specially designed elasticated resistance band.
Theraband has been widely used by rehab therapists for around 40 years and resistance bands have become increasingly popular over the last 20 years or so.
There are now a whole range of styles e.g. loop bands and tubes and different brands to choose from, Theraband being the most well-known.
Resistance bands are a really useful lightweight, cheap way to make exercises more challenging and effective and there are many benefits of using resistance bands as part of your workout program.
Here we will be looking at some of the best theraband exercises for legs. You can use any brand of resistance band, but remember, you do get what you pay for so opt for good quality manufacturers such as Theraband, Black Mountain or Fit Simplify. The last thing you want is for the band to snap!
We are going to share with you our favourite theraband exercises for leg. We have grouped them by the main target area or style:
But remember, one of the great things about leg exercises with resistance bands is that you tend to work more than one muscle group at a time so there is a lot of overlap.
All the leg exercises with resistance bands shown here can be done with a simple length of theraband, which is either held or tied in place, so that all you need is one piece. You can easily increase or decrease the resistance somewhat by shortening or lengthening the band simply by changing where you hold the band or tying it in a different place.
However, if you are really enjoying theraband exercises for legs, you might want to look into also getting some handles to go on the ends, loop bands or tube bands and a range of resistance strengths.
Squats are a great way to strengthen the leg muscles and there are loads of different options for how to get even more out of them by adding theraband resistance bands to your squats.
Squats get the glutes, quads and hamstrings all working. Let’s look at some of our favourite squat theraband exercises for legs.
These resistance band squats help pull you down into a deep squat and make your leg muscles work much harder as you have to really push up through your legs against the resistance of the band to come back up.
· Stand on a length of theraband, feet shoulder width apart with the theraband anchored securely under each foot
· Grasp an end of the theraband in each hand and stand up tall with your arms by your side
· Slowly bend your knees and squat down, take your buttocks down and back as if you were going to sit on a large box/chair
· Then straighten your knees, pushing up against the band.
TOP TIP: Don’t let your knees come forwards over your toes, or let them collapse inwards – they should be in line with your second toe the whole time
These loop resistance band squats are awesome for really working your glutes as you squat.
Starting with your feet together, loop a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knee.
· Step your feet apart bringing your knees apart so you push the resistance band out
· Squat down, taking your butt backwards, making sure your knees don’t come in front of your toes
· Keep pushing out against the resistance band throughout to really get the glutes working
· Hold or do small pulses for 3-5 seconds and then come back up
Loop another resistance band around your ankles as well as you do this exercise to work the legs and glutes harder.
Squat jumps with resistance bands focus on propulsive power, perfect for improving fitness, jump height and muscle tone and strength.
Place a resistance band loop around your legs, just above your knees
· Stand with feet shoulder width apart, pushing out against the band
· Squat down taking your weight through your heels and lowering your buttocks down and back as if you were going to sit in a chair
· Then spring up, jumping in the air and land on the balls of your feet, keeping your feet shoulder width apart
· Stand with feet together with resistance band just above your knees
· Bend your knees slightly and spring up into the air, jumping your feet apart and landing in a deep squat
· Then jump up as high as you can and bring your feet back together, landing with your knees slightly bent
· Repeat, aiming to increase speed, reps, width and depth of squats
Lunges are great theraband exercises for legs, because again the band really helps to push those legs to work even harder. Buns of steel here you come! As always, there are lots of different ways to do resistance band lunges so pick your favourites.
Stand with your feet hip width apart and a resistance band looped around your thighs.
· Step one leg forwards into a lunge position so you can feel tension in the resistance band
· From here, take your back knee down towards the floor, letting the front knee bend, but keeping it level with your toes – don’t let it come forwards
· Push up through the front knee and down through the heel on the front foot and step your feet back together.
Both knees should bend to 90o
When you come up from the lunge position, rather than stepping your feet back together, lift your back leg up off the floor and stretch it backwards against the resistance band.
· Stand with the resistance band under the ball of one foot so it is securely anchored and grasp each end of the band in your hands
· Depending on the length of your band either have your arms straight by your side, or bend your elbows and hold the band by your shoulders
· Step back with your free foot onto your toes so you are in a lunge position
· Let both knees bend to 90 degrees making sure your front knee stays behind your toes
· Push back up and repeat
These power pull lunges with resistance bands are great for improving upper body strength and posture as well as challenging those leg muscles.
Fix the theraband to something solid in front of you at chest height e.g. door handle, stair rail or tree.
· Hold each end of the band, or handles if you have them, palms facing in, hands by your waist, shoulder blades drawn back
· Step one leg back bending both knees into a lunge position pulling back against the resistance band and keeping the band by your sides
· Slowly push up through your legs and return to the starting position
· Alternate legs
If you want to work the upper body even more alongside leg exercises with resistance bands, hold the lunge position and bring the resistance band forwards and backwards in a rowing motion ten times with each lunge.
The glutes play a huge role in stability so having strong glutes helps reduce back, hip, knee and foot problems making them a must for anyone!
Most of the theraband exercises for legs that we cover here will get the glutes working to some degrees but this next set of exercises really targets the glutes specifically. Believe me, you’ll really feel these in your buttocks!
Lie on your back holding your theraband down across your waist, knees and hips bent 90 degrees
· Squeeze your buttocks and lift up as high as you can without arching your lower back
· Aim to make a diagonal line through your knees, hips and shoulders
· Hold or pulse for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower down, then relax your glutes
Lie on your back, feet together with theraband looped around your thighs just above your knees
· Move your feet and knees out slightly so they are hip distance apart with some tension in the theraband
· Clench your glutes and lift your buttocks up forming the diagonal line from knees to shoulders without arching your back
· Hold for 3-5 seconds, then lower down slowly and relax your glutes
These resistance band glute kickbacks are often known as "Donkey Kicks".
Start on all 4’s with theraband looped around your foot and grasped in each hand.
· Your hands should be directly under your shoulders, knees directly under your hips
· Push your leg backwards, pushing against the band and straightening your knee
· Don’t let your back dip
· Hold or pulse for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower
The clam is an awesome exercise, targeting the glute med muscle which is so important for core stability. Anyone doing theraband exercises for legs should be doing this!
Lie on your side with a theraband loop around your thighs, just above your knees, hips and knees bent.
· Keeping your feet together lift the top knee up to the ceiling pushing up against the band
· You are aiming to get as high as you can without your hips rolling back - it can help to put your hands on your hips to check for that
· Hold or pulse for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower down
There are lots of other ways to strengthen the glutes without using resistance bands - check out the glute strengthening section for loads more exercises
Good strength, control and stability around the hips and thighs is really important for backs, hips and knees. These theraband exercises for legs target this area really well, and help give you buns of steel!
Loop the resistance band around your ankles or tie one end securely to a table leg.
· Move your target leg out to the side, pulling against the band
· Aim to hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower your leg
TOP TIPS: Keep upright, don’t let yourself bend at the waist
: Clench your glutes as you do this to get the muscles working hard
: Pulse your leg in and out slightly instead of holding
This theraband inner thigh exercise is great for toning this often ignored area.
Tie or loop one end of the resistance band around a low object e.g. table leg, and loop the other end around your ankle.
· Move the target leg inwards across your body in front of your other leg, pulling against the band
· Aim to hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly uncross your leg
When people think of doing a leg press they envisage going to the gym and pushing against weights. But here’s how you can do a leg press exercises with resistance bands
Sit with theraband looped around the ball of your foot and held tightly in your hands, knee and hips are bent.
· Push your foot away, straightening your knee and hip pushing against the resistance band
· Hold or do small pulses bending the knee slightly for 3-5 seconds
· Slowly return to starting position
With each of these theraband exercises for legs, you are doing the leg press movement of pushing the hip and knee from a bent position out straight against the theraband. Hold the ends of the resistance band firmly and loop it around your target foot.
When doing a leg press with resistance bands it is usually best to work one leg at a time. It works the muscles harder and is kinder on your lower back!
The resistance band monster walk is a great exercise for the hips, outer thighs and glutes. You can tweak these monster walk theraband exercises for legs slightly to work the muscles in different ways, but these are going to help you get you really toned as well as building up strength and stability around your knees!
Stand with your legs slightly apart and loop a resistance band around your thighs.
· Bend your knees slightly so you in a slight squat position and step one leg out to the side
· Bring the other leg in but keep tension on the band throughout
· Take a few more steps like this and then reverse the direction back to the start
You can make this monster walk exercise harder by moving the band gradually further down your legs e.g. knee, mid-calf and ankle level. Having the theraband around your ankles will be hardest as the feet are the widest point when you step out, so there will be more stretch through the resistance band.
Loop a resistance band around your ankle, step both feet out slightly so there is tension in the band and squat down slightly
· Step one foot forwards, keeping it slightly out to the side to keep maximum tension through the resistance band
· Then do the same with the other leg
· Take a few steps forwards like this, keeping the tension through the resistance band throughout
· Reverse the direction taking backward steps to your starting position
These hamstring resistance band exercises target the hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh that bend the knee and help to extend the hip. The hamstrings play a vital role in activities such as running so are good to include with theraband exercises for legs.
· Sit in a chair with the band looped around your foot and fixed to something in front of you e.g. table leg
· Slide your heel backwards letting your knee and pull through the resistance band
· Hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly bring your foot forwards to the starting position
· Sitting in a chair with your fixed leg propped up on a chair in front of you
· Loop the band around your fixed ankle and under the ball of your target foot
· Bring the target leg down and back so the knee bends, pulling on the resistance band
· Hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly return to the starting position
· Lie face down with the resistance band looped around the foot of your target leg and the opposite ankle
· Slowly bend your knee bringing your foot towards your buttock
· Hold for 3-5 seconds and slowly lower the leg
· Keep the other foot down throughout to anchor the band
You can challenge yourself further with each of these hamstring resistance band exercises by adding some pulses at the end of each movement.
There are lots of other ways to work the hamstrings alongside these theraband exercises for legs - you can find loads more great exercises in the hamstring strengthening section.
With each of these theraband exercises for legs you want to:
And remember, you're not trying to do all of these theraband exercises for legs, pick the ones you enjoy and find challenge the areas you are focusing on. You could always have a couple of sets that you do and alternate them each day. One of the reasons that we love doing leg exercises with resistance bands is how versatile theraband is - certainly great for reducing boredom!
Related Article: Benefits of Resistance Bands >
Before you start theraband exercises for legs, it’s important to choose the right level or resistance for you.
You might find that you want to use different strength resistance bands for different theraband exercises for legs - don't feel that you need to use the same one for all.
Related Article: Resistance Bands vs Weights >
There are loads more leg exercises with resistance bands that we could have included, but these are the ones we have found people come back to time and again. The great thing about resistance bands is that they are so versatile and you really can use them with pretty much any exercise.
Try combining these theraband exercises for legs with our other knee strengthening exercises if you want more variation.
And if you are not sure where to start, check out our resistance band guide which tells you all about the benefits of resistance bands and the different options so you can find the right one for you.
It can also help to do stretches alongside these theraband exercises for legs - check out the leg stretches section to find out more.
Page Last Updated: 18/01/23
Next Review Due: 18/01/25
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