The father of all exercises! The Squat. We already covered the deadlift in this article right here. Deadlift and squats are the main 2 exercises for the lower body which will hit every muscle in your legs and your butt. Great to build muscles and strength at the same time. Usually squats are performed with weights and most people will tell you that you need to go to a gym to do them effectively. This couldn’t be further from the truth. And this is where bands come into the picture. Bands are a great tool to even do heavy exercises like the squat.
In this article we will cover how to perform a perfect squat with bands, as well as what other variations you can incorporate in your training. We will also cover how you can progress by adding more resistance and multiple tips we came up with by training with resistance bands for years.
We start by showing you the right way of doing squats. In the second part of the article we then cover variations and great tips to help you maximize your performance and get a great workout.
Squats With Resistance Band
Then here we go, let’s get your squat game to the next level!
Band VS Weights & Machine
Doing your squats with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with a free weights.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With free weights, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
Especially in the starting position (bottom position) we are weaker than in the finishing position (top position). Band are perfect, since they provide less resistance at the start of the movement and maximize the resistance at the end where we are the strongest.
- Fewer Injuries & Home Workout! You probably don’t have a home gym with a lot of weight at your disposal and doing squats with weights take quite a lot of time to develop the right technique to be able to handle more weight without risking injury – with resistance bands you can do squats at home with minimal equipment and very safe, since band force you to perform the exercise in a good form simply by using them. Automatic injury prevention. Nice!
- Versatility! With one band you can simulate a variety of resistances depending on the stretch and also use it to train your whole body.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights or machines, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing a squat, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and muscle building, check it out here.
How To Squat The Right Way
The squat is one of those lift which we do several times a day. It basically simulates crouching down, picking something up and getting back up. But boy oh boy especially in our day-to-day life we perform this movement often with bad form. This is one more reason to practice the squat and work on the perfect form to have a healthy back in your everyday life.
The best and most comfortable way to perform a squat with bands is actually to do it as a front squat. There other variations you can do, and we will cover them further below. But this is the version most people prefer, so we will take it as our base.
There are 6 simple steps to perform a squat with perfect form:
- Step with both feet on the band – Stance width around shoulder wide
- Grab the band with both hands and bring your hands to your shoulders (you can cross your hands if it is more comfortable for you)
- Take a big breath and hold it
- Initiate the movement by bending your knees and driving your hip backwards
- Go down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (if you can go further down, even better)
- Explode back up into a full stand
That’s basically the squat folks. Not too complicated in theory, but it takes quite some time to perfect the form. There are actually many tweaks to this exercise that I have listed below so make sure to check them out
Important Do’s & Don’ts!!!
⓵ Straight Lower Back And Neutral Neck – these are the most common mistakes with this exercise and even might hurt your lower back if you do it with high resistance. Make sure to keep your lower back straight. Just keep thinking about it while performing the squat and it will already better your form. The second tip is keeping your neck in a neutral position by looking at a point on the ground around 6 feet in front of you. This will also help to keep your lower back straight. Rounding your lower back creates an uneven force on your spine and this is the reason injury can occur.
⓶ No Slack – when you’re in the bottom position of your squat, there shouldn’t be any slack in the band. The band should be stretched a little bit so you feel a force pulling you down a little bit. If you have a slack here you will lose a lot of time under tension!
If it is not possible for you to stand up completely without having a slack at the bottom position you need to use a lighter resistance band (below you find tips how to increase the force with a lighter resistance band)
⓷ No Internal Rotation Of The Knees – rounding of knees internally is another common problem while performing squats. This usually happens to a lot of beginners or if the load is way too heavy. So make sure to choose a resistance you can handle and to actively push your knees outside.
⓸ Keep Your Heels On The Ground – especially if your new to the squat this might happen in the beginning. This might have two reasons. Bad ankle mobility or not driving your hips back enough. Simply focusing on keeping your heels at the ground will help already a lot. In case you have problems with this in the beginning, you can take 2 thin books and place them underneath your heels.
If you have problems doing squats as shown above, please check below some alternative ways that will help you find the perfect squat variation with resistance bands for you.
Alternative Ways To Squat With Resistance Bands
With every version of an exercise, you will find people that really like it and others that don’t like it that much. If you have problems with the recommended version of doing the squat as shown above (while executing it the right way), you might want to try one of the following squat variations.
Overhead Squat – This variation is tough! This is basically the next progression from a front squat, as shown above.
Push your hands over head and keep them there throughout the scquat. This will force you to keep your form in check and also adds resistance since you stretch the band more. In the overhead squat not only your lower body is working but also your core and your shoulders. This is truly a full body exercise and can be incorparated in HIIT or carido wokrout. If you feel extra energized you can turn it into a push press. Simply do a front squat and at the end of the squat push the band over your head. Now you have even a shoulder workout in there.
Band Behind Your Head – If the front squat position is not for you, you can put the band behind your neck and simulate a standard squat. You can either rest the band on your neck or take your hand to hold it in this position.
Squat With Crossed Bands – This is a great set up. You will have your hands free and you can focus fully on the form, without worrying what the band is doing. The downside is that you will need two band of the same resistance. From here you will stand on the each band wit one of your feet and then move the band over your head to the oppisite shoulder and let it rest there.
Mini Band Squat – this is gerat for everybody who is new to the squat or wants to imporove his or her form. The minibands are perfect for that. But you can also double up a very ligh standard loop band and put it slightly above your knees.From here you simply performe a body weight squat. The band will force you to keep rotationg your knees externally, this will put more tension on your outer thighs and strengthen these muscles. You can also combine this technique with all the other squat variations.
Squats With A Belt – this set up is great to completely free your upper body from resistance. Especially if you have lower back problems, try this variation. The set up is quite simply and genius at the same time. Take a simple belt or one of the thicker resistance bands and put it around your waist. With the band you will have to put one end of the loop through the other to create a smaller loop there you can fix the other band. Now you will take a smaller band an double it up. Step inside the loop with one foot, thread it through the belt or the band around your waist and push the other end of the band underneath your other foot.
Now squat! I told you it’s simple and genius.
This variation is also great to work on your jumping strength for basketball or other sports.
Get Your Pump
If that doesn’t get you that pump, here are some tips that will help you work that butt and thighs to the ground.
Shorten The Band – many people make the mistake to use a band with a resistance level that’s simply too high for the exercise. The full effect of bands results from getting the right resistance and if you use a band that’s too heavy you can’t get a clean range-of-motion and clean reps and get lower progress.
Instead of taking a stronger band simply shorten the band, you use and you can do that perfectly by wrapping it around your hand or foot once or twice and get the extra resistance without losing the ability to do clean reps.
That’s also one reason why I don’t like the resistance bands with handles attached to it and prefer the loop-style bands.
Double Time – If you feel that there is only a little bit of resistance missing and a jump to the next thicker band would be too much, simply add a second one of the lighter ones. It will give just that extra resistance you’re looking for without taking it over the top.
Time Under Tension – compared to weights where you have the same force applied to any position of the movement, bands will add more resistance the further you stretch them – this will lower the time under tension your muscle has during a set in the starting position. Focus on doing the exercise controlled and try to hold it for a second or two in the fully contracted position and don’t let the band snap back but slowly go back to the starting position.
Full Lower Body Workout
Simply doing Squats is not a full lower body workout as there are multiple muscles working in your legs and glutes – we have here a full lower body workout with different exercises that will give you the strongest pump you can ever think of and keep you healthy for years to come – check it out here.