Have you been working out your upper body and forgotten all about your legs?
The fact is, you don’t need either a squat rack or leg press machine to build strong legs. Your hamstrings, glutes, and quads can all get a solid beating just by using simple exercise equipment like resistance bands.
This article will focus on the front of your thigh. Here are six resistance bands quad exercises bound to make your quadriceps beg for mercy!
What Makes For Effective Quadricep Training?
Before diving into the exercises, let’s quickly discuss the muscle group in question.
Your quadriceps are large four-headed muscles situated on the front side of your upper thighs (1). Their primary job is knee extension (straightening your leg) but one of the heads – the rectus femoris – also influences the hip to some degree (2).
Despite what prevailing wisdom suggests, we can do exercises other than back squats and leg press to develop this significant muscle group. So with that in mind, let’s go over six resistance band exercises you can do at home.
6 Effective Resistance Bands Quad Exercises
1. Banded Front Squats
Front squats are a fantastic movement for emphasizing your quadriceps, building your glutes, and involving your core and upper back muscles (3). Typically, you would do this movement in a gym with a barbell, but you can also use a long looped band for the job.
Simply step over a resistance band and place it over your shoulders, similar to how you would position a barbell during a front squat.
From this position, begin to squat and make sure to keep your torso upright. Doing so will allow you to engage your back better and maintain balance.
2. Resistance Band Leg Extension
The leg extension machine at the gym is a favorite of many. The trouble is, we might not always have access to one. For example, if you’ve made yourself a home gym, getting all sorts of machines could get to be quite expensive.
Enter resistance band leg extensions.
To do this movement, attach the resistance band on something, and wrap it over your ankle, similar to how you would place the leg extension machine’s pad. From there, begin to extend your knee against the band’s resistance, which will put tension on your quadricep and strengthen it.
3. Banded Squat
Though seemingly similar to the first exercise from our list, the banded squat is slightly different. Instead of looping the band over your shoulders and beneath your feet, you’re wrapping it over your thighs, just over the knees. Doing so is excellent for maintaining leg position and preventing your knees from caving in.
Additionally, wrapping a band over your thighs might be beneficial for glute activation. One possible explanation is that you become more conscious of your knee position and actively keep them out. The muscles responsible for thigh abduction (moving the thigh away from the center of your body) are the glute medius, glute minimus, and tensor fascia lata.
Aside from being an excellent quad exercise, the banded squat can also improve knee stability while squatting and involve your glutes more.
4. Lying Band Leg Press
This is a more unusual move, but it works incredibly well.
To do the lying band leg press:
- Lie on the floor, and grab a thick resistance band by its two ends.
- Place the resistance band over the middle of one foot and bend your knee.
- Engage your abs, take a breath, and press the band as you extend your knee, similar to how you would on a horizontal leg press machine.
- Keep the band in position, and don’t let your hands travel forward as the band lengthens because this will make the movement easier.
The exercise is excellent because it works as a good addition to squatting and doesn’t stress your knees.
5. Lateral Step With Squat
Traditionally, lateral steps don’t train your quadriceps much because there is little knee extension involved. Instead, the activity primarily works your adductors, abductors, glutes, and hamstrings.
But nothing is to say that we can’t combine the lateral step with another movement and reap fantastic benefits. This is why we recommend doing lateral steps with a squat.
- Lateral steps train the muscles we mentioned above.
- The squat works your quadriceps.
- The two unique movement patterns complement one another and come together naturally. The exercise doesn’t feel awkward but completely normal, and most people find it easy to learn.
You can do this exercise in two ways:
1. Take a lateral step, squat, and take another lateral step to the original position. Keep doing so until you exhaust your lower body.
2. Take lateral steps to one side, squatting between each. Then, take the same number of lateral steps in the opposite direction to get to the starting position.
6. Banded Jump Squats
Jump squats are similar to the standard exercise but with one difference:
Instead of going up and down slowly, you descend in preparation to explode up as quickly as possible. Stand tall, drop, and press through your heels to jump as high as you can. The simple difference allows you to recruit more motor units in your lower body (particularly fast-twitch muscle fibers), build power, and become more explosive (4).
Banded jump squats are also fun and great for aerobic conditioning and weight loss. For example, you can include these as part of a circuit workout.
Final Words: Resistance Bands Quad Exercises Build Strong Legs!
Prevailing wisdom suggests that we need a gym and access to all sorts of machines and weights to train effectively. Having access to a squat rack, leg press, and leg extension machine is undoubtedly a plus. These pieces of equipment allow us to do various great quadriceps exercises.
But as you saw above, effective quadriceps training isn’t that difficult to pull off. So long as you have a list of exercises and you’re mindful of technique, you can train the muscle group well and develop it significantly.
Want to learn more about resistance band training? Check out my collection of home strength training articles – LOADED with actionable tips, fitness hacks, and workout routines that bring RESULTS!
See you there!
Other Helpful Resources
- The Ultimate Resistance Band Workouts For Muscle Gain
- Best Resistance Band for Pull Ups: Reviews and Top Picks
- The Beginners ABC to Getting Ripped With Resistance Bands
- 11 Resistance Band Exercises for Back and Shoulders (That Actually Work)
- Benefits of Resistance Bands vs Free Weights: What Should you Choose?
- Suspension Training vs Resistance Bands: Is One Better Than the Other?
- Are Resistance Bands Good for Building Muscle? Science And Facts
- Bordoni B, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Thigh Quadriceps Muscle. [Updated 2022 Jul 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls
- Murdock CJ, Mudreac A, Agyeman K. Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Rectus Femoris Muscle. [Updated 2022 Aug 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls
- Gullett JC, Tillman MD, Gutierrez GM, Chow JW. A biomechanical comparison of back and front squats in healthy trained individuals. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Jan;23(1):284-92. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31818546bb. PMID: 19002072.
- Cormie P, McCaulley GO, McBride JM. Power versus strength-power jump squat training: influence on the load-power relationship. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Jun;39(6):996-1003. doi: 10.1097/mss.0b013e3180408e0c. PMID: 17545891.