Leg Resistance Band Exercises-Hamstring & Calf

Resistance bands are among the best exercise tools especially on a limited budget and timeframe. Given that your muscles need to fight the tension in the band, repeated use of resistance bands can yield results as good as gym sessions.

If you have your band ready, the resistance exercises you can do for your legs include one and one-quarter squats, standing glute kickbacks, runner’s extensions, squat jacks, hip bridges, lateral band steps, single-leg stands, clamshells, side-lying leg lifts, and monster walks. These are explained in detail in the sections below.

While you can use a resistance band for many more exercises (and on other body parts as well), 10 of the best exercises for your legs with this band include the following:

1. Standing Glute Kickbacks

The kickbacks in these exercise work on your hamstrings and glutes and strengthen them in the process.

It’s performed in the following steps:

  • Stand straight up with your hands akimbo while placing the band at your ankles. Your feet should be hip width apart.
  • Keeping your legs straight and supporting your weight on one leg, stretch your other leg backwards as far as you can while keeping your position. Only the leg should move backwards as the body remains straight.
  • Repeat this for 10 to 15 reps on each leg before switching.

For this exercise, maximum benefits will be obtained only when the body is held straight up without arching the back or toppling over.

2. Runner’s Extensions

With the runner’s extensions, you get the most benefits in your hip flexors, quads and abdominals.

The exercise is as follows:

  • Lie on your back with the band around the center of your feet. Your hands should be at your side right next to your body while the feet up with a 90-degree angle between your thighs and the ground, and at your knees. Your feet should be slightly apart to keep the tension in the resistance band.
  • While holding one leg in the original position, extend the other one straight out until it’s fully stretched out.
  • For the other leg, you’ll need to reverse the motion such that the stretched leg comes back up to the 90-degree position as the other one stretches out simultaneously.
  • Repeat the alternating motions with one rep being a stretch of both legs. Perform between 10 to 15 reps.

The hard part in this workout is keeping the anchor foot (the one keeping the 90-degree position) when stretching the other one.

3. One and One-quarter Squats

This simple exercise targets your hamstrings, quads, hip-abductor muscles, and the glutes. You also gain the proper stability and knee position when working out in general.

It’s done in the following steps:

  • While standing straight up with your feet shoulder width apart, place the band right above your knees.
  • With moderate speed, squat until your knees make a 90-degree bend. As you squat, ensure you press your knees outward and against the band for maximum benefits. You can go lower if you have the ability to hold a good squat.
  • Stand up straight while maintaining the distance between your feet.

You should do at least 10 squats with an upper limit of 15 squats recommended.

4. Squat Jacks

For the best quads, glutes and calves, squat jacks with the resistance band are the best solution.

The routine is as follows:

  • Position the band either above your knees or ankles then assume a half-squat position to keep its tension.
  • Do a squat then jump up in quick succession. When you come back down, go straight to a squat position then jump up again.

These stages should be done in quick succession such that you’re doing squats while jumping up. Ensure your feet are apart to maintain the tension of the band.

5. Hip Bridges

Another workout targeting the hamstrings and glutes, hip bridges are simple to do yet reap major benefits.

The steps are as follows:

  • Lie on your back with your hands by your side on the floor. Position the band just above your knees with your feet and knees about hip width apart. Your feet should be placed such that your lower leg is straight up.
  • Lift your pelvic region up until you form a straight line from your knees through the hips all the way to your chest.
  • Return to the original position then move your pelvis up again.

This routine should be fine for 10 to 15 reps.

6. Lateral Band Steps

Lateral band steps strengthen your quads and hip-abductor muscles.

It’s done as follows:

  • Standing up straight, place the band above your knees and assume a half-squat position.
  • Step as far right as you can then return the leg to the original position.
  • Step as far left as you can before returning the leg back to the original position.
  • Repeat these motions alternatively while maintaining the half-squat position.

You should perform between 10 and 15 reps with a rep being a step for both feet.

7. Single-leg Stands

For this exercise, you’ll need a chair which enables you make a 90-degree angle at your knees when seated. It’s another one of the exercises on this list that targets your glutes and quads.

You then follow these steps:

  • Sit on the chair in an upright position (preferably with your hands held together in front of you). Place the band slightly above your knees and with the feet slightly apart.
  • Extend one foot forward and off the ground.
  • While keeping the rest of the body in position, slowly stand up on one foot until both feet are fully straight. Ensure that you maintain the extension level of the leg before sitting down.

You should do 10 to 15 reps on each leg before switching.

8. Clamshells

Clamshell exercises build your obliques and glutes and are done as follows:

  • Lie on your side with your hand either supporting your body at the elbow, or flat on the ground and your hand supporting your head in a resting position. Place the band above your knees then bend the knees to a 90-degree angle within your body (not forwards or backwards).
  • Pull your top knee as much upwards and outwards as possible then return it without changing your body position. Keep the feet together while doing this.
  • Repeat for 10 to 15 reps then switch sides.

It may look simple but if done right, you should feel uncomfortable in a few reps.

9. Side-lying Leg Lifts

Side-lying leg lifts have a lot of similarities with clamshells. However, the leg lifts target the hip-abductor muscles unlike the clamshells.

The side-lying leg lifts are done as follows:

  • Lie on your side like in the clamshell above. This time, however, stretch your legs like in a standing position with the band at your ankles or knees.
  • Stretch your top leg directly towards the ceiling while keeping its straightness.
  • Return it towards the leg on the ground only up to when the band’s tension ends (don’t let the band get loose).

Repeat this motion slowly for 10 to 15 reps then switch legs.

10. Monster Walk

The name for this particular exercise comes from the posture you assume and the movements you make. It targets your glutes.

You follow these steps:

  • Standing up straight with hands akimbo and feet about shoulder width apart, place the band on your ankles and keep its tension.
  • Keep your upper body perpendicular to the ground then bend your knees slightly.
  • In that position, start taking steps backwards as far as you can without losing the posture of the upper body.

The motions you make mimic that of a monster hence the name.

These exercises are easy to do and offer an easy way of working out your legs and lower body without the need to visit the gym or spend lots of time exercising. The resistance offered by the band is what makes the difference here.


Hamstring workout

Further Reading