You’ve probably seen people in your gym doing banded squats? Or stepping side to side with a loop resistance band, while in a funny looking squat position… pulling strange facial expressions?
You’re probably thinking “what do these banded exercises do?” – after all, they look kind of easy and pointless most of the time don’t they?
Well, in answer to both questions…
These resistance bands help to activate your glutes (butt muscles). And banded exercises aren’t pointless… they can make a great addition to your workout. If done correctly, these exercises will create a deep muscle burn and help strengthen your leg muscles.
In this article, I’m going to talk all about banded squats:
What are banded squats?
First of all, what are resistance band squats?
Well, there are two resistance band squat variations.
Variation One – is with small resistance loop bands – where you place the bands lower/mid-thigh level…
The bands pull your legs inwards, which means your glutes have to work harder. If you combine the small resistance band loops while doing a squat, it means you work your butt muscles harder and therefore make them firmer/stronger.
Variation Two – is with a large resistance band loop – where you create tension in the band like this…
Both variations are useful, but they serve slightly different purposes…
The small resistance bands are suitable for ‘activation work’ and therefore work better at the beginning of your workouts.
In contrast, the big loop resistance bands work better towards the end of your workouts (they are a great finishing leg exercise).
What are the benefits of banded squats?
#1 Strengthen Weak Muscle Groups
Most people will have weak glute muscles, from being sat down at a desk all day. Strong glutes not only look good, but they support your posture when standing. By regularly doing banded squats, you’ll boost your glute strength, and they will help you improve your standing posture.
#2 Changes The Strength Curve
When you squat, you’ll notice that certain parts of the rep are harder than others? For example, at the bottom of the squat…that’s where you are at your weakest (and therefore it’s the hardest part of the rep). At the top of the squat, you’re at your strongest (this is the easiest part of the rep).
With a banded squat (the big band version), you’ll notice that the top position is now much harder because as you stand up, the band generates more resistance…
This makes it better for glute activation, and also works your legs much harder than standard squats with no bands.
Using resistance bands at the beginning of your workout is a great way to fire up your glutes and thighs. Lots of strong/fit people will use bands for warm-up drills to wake up dormant muscles and prepare their bodies for an effective workout.
#4 Prevents Lower Back Pain
Strong glutes will prevent injury and pain, especially with the lower back. When standing, if your glutes don’t fire very well, your lower back will be vulnerable. Most people with lower back pain have weak glutes and hamstrings. When you fix both of these issues, 90% of lower back issues disappear.
If you’re bored doing the same exercises each session i.e., leg press, leg extensions, and ab/adductor machine, why not mix up your training? Variety is an excellent way to keep your body stimulated, but also keep you mentally focused.
#6 Cheap & Portable
Bands are cheap, and you can take them anywhere. Whenever I go on holiday, I will pack resistance bands in my suitcase. It means I can train my glutes anywhere in the world. They fit neatly into my case like a pair of socks, and barely weigh anything – so no hefty luggage charges!
Where can I buy cheap resistance bands?
To do resistance band leg exercises, you need to buy resistance loop bands. If you want to buy some cheap resistance bands that are of high quality, here are the ones that I use.
Small Loop Bands
Large Loop Bands – go for the red colour
How to do the perfect banded squat…
I prefer the big resistance band loop for squats, so that’s what I’m going to talk you through here…
- Lift the band over your head and rest on top of your shoulders
- Squat down clamp the band with both feet. Place them shoulder-width apart.
- Stand up straight, keep your head and chest up, and tense your core muscles.
- Start to slowly squat down (take 4s) then pause for 1s at the bottom, before finally squatting back up to the top.
repeat this sequence for 8-15 reps
Are there any limitations to banded squats?
Like all exercises, there are limitations…
The most significant limitation of banded squats is that you can’t go as heavy as a traditional squat (front or back squat). Banded squats can fit neatly into your leg workouts, but I would still make sure to do exercises such as:
- Front squats
- Bulgarian split squats
- Lunge variations (walking, stationary, forward, backward)
- Romanian deadlifts
Another one of my favourite leg exercises is the ramp split squat (like in the video below)…
How to add banded squats into your leg workout?
Ok, here’s how I feature banded leg exercises into my weekly leg workouts:
#1 Warm-Up – 2 minutes of cardio (60% effort)
#2 Mobility work – I will do 20 reps of Jefferson curls and 20 reps of spidermans
#3 Glute activation drills – I do these 6 variations for 10-20 reps on each leg
#4 Main Leg Workout
- Front squats x 8-12 reps x 3 sets
- Bulgarian squats x 8-12 reps each leg x 3 sets
- Banded squats x 8-12 reps x 3 squats
- DB Romanian deadlifts x 8-12 reps x 3 sets
- Pronated lying DB curl x 15-20 reps x 3 sets
*resting 45-60s between each set
#5 Stretches – I will do 2-3 stretches and hold each one for 60s.
Thanks for reading,
Nick Screeton – Founder of LEP Fitness