Resistance bands are one of the most effective pieces of training equipment when it comes to training at home with a minimal set up or while traveling. Training the lower body with resistance bands has multiple positive and negatives that I will discuss in this article along with providing 8 exercise variations you can use.
No spam – just thoughtful training advice
Complete 3 rounds
Resistance bands are an excellent way to target the hamstring muscles. As you can see from our exercise list, we have multiple exercises which are extremely effective at both adding strength and muscle mass to the hamstrings. If you use the correct band tension, these exercises are some of the most effective for targeting the hamstrings, especially in a home training environment.
Another hug benefit of training the lower body with the resistance band is its ability to build stability and strength in the muscles around the hip joint. When we use exercises like lateral banded walks, quadrupled extensions and adductor pulls, we are able to build strong and stable hips. These sort of exercises are perfect for both general population clients and athletes, as hip stability is crucial to both.
The resistance band is potentially the most versatile pieces of equipment in the sense that it can come with you wherever you go. This is such a huge advantage compared to free weights and being reliant on a gym. When building a minimal home set up, having resistance bands of varying band tensions is a great way to have equipment that can help you build strength without taking up too much space.
As you can see, there is something missing from this list which is pretty important when it comes to training the lower body. That’s squats. The squat is one of the fundamental movement patterns when it comes to resistance training. The resistance band does not offer any viable exercises that overload the squat, without them being extremely impractical to perform. This means that having some other pieces of equipments (kettlebells and dumbbells) can be extremely useful for building squatting strength.
Overload is when we apply stress to our body to create an adaptation, we overload the body in such a way that it adapts (gains strength or muscle mass). Applying enough stress to create an adaption is crucial if we are looking to progress in our training. The reality is applying enough stress with resistance bands can be very difficult if you do not have a variety of band tensions. If you just have low band tension resistance bands then you will be unable to make progress as you will not be able to apply enough stress.
Another problem when training with resistance bands will be the application of progressive overload. Progressive overload is where we increase the stress placed upon the body overtime, therefore allowing us to continuously adapt and preventing stagnation. If you have a very limited number of resistance bands you will find it very difficult to apply this principle.
For the reason above, the lack of ability to provide enough overload, bands are not the best tool for strength training. For beginners, it can be a good way to build an initial strength, but as soon as you become an intermediate it can be difficult to gain strength just using resistance bands. However they can be effective for strength maintenance whilst on holiday or when you do not have access to a gym.
Band resisted deadlifts are one of the most effective band exercises for training the lower body. When done with the correct band tension they are a great way to both develop and maintain strength.
Banded adductions are a brilliant way to work the adductors, which can be a tough muscle to target. These need to be done with very low band tension initially as the adductor can be a delicate muscle to target specifically. These are a great exercise for runners who are susceptible to injuries in the adductors.
Banded clamshells might look like an easy exercise, but they are very difficult to perform with technical precision. This is especially true because when our form drops they become substantially easier, making it tempting to reduce the quality of repetitions. So make sure you are staying focused, moving well and not wasting your time from flailing about on the floor. It is important to keep the hips in line with the knees and not allow them to drop back.
Banded extensions are a very effective way to improve hamstring strength and work on hinge technique. They allow you to practice you’re hinge with low band tension, which can be a very valuable exercise for individuals who are just learning the hinge movement patten. For more experienced individuals however they allow you to improve your hamstring strength or grow your hamstring muscle mass when performed with the correct tension.
The banded good morning is predominantly a warm up exercise. It is a great middle ground between a loaded hinge and a bodyweight hinge. The band acts as an external cue helping you maintain your lower back positioning. Using a high band tension on this exercise will be slightly uncomfortable and in-practical as it will pull aggressively on your upper back, however you can try this for yourself and see if it is effective.
The banded hamstring curl is another great banded exercise that can be used to target the hamstrings. Make sure you are moving through the full range of motion here and not shortening your flexion or extension.
The lateral band walk is similar to the clamshell exercise in the sense that they both target the muscles of the glutes and when performed incorrectly they both have zero effect. This means that it is another exercise where you will need to be technically precise.
When performed slowly with control, quadrupled extensions are a very effective way to work both the muscles of the glutes and the core (lumbar spine). These can be done for high repetitions when trying to grow muscle mass but are very ineffective when trying to gain strength.
If you enjoyed this resource you can find more below or try Programme, a fitness app that plans every workout for you – based on your progress, equipment and lifestyle.
This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.