Tone Your Lower Body at Home with Resistance Bands
Last week we discussed different types of resistance bands and how you can use them to strength train at home. This week we are going to focus on how to tone, lift and strengthen the glutes and lower body using hip circle bands -- wide bands made out of rubber or fabric that can be placed just above your knees or around your ankles. These bands can help you get extra activation, resistance and muscle hypertrophy during your workout. Muscle hypertrophy can be defined as an increase in muscular size achieved through exercise. The following exercises will not only build stronger glutes and legs but will help them be toned and look better than ever.
A good rule is to choose an amount of resistance (band resistance is coded by color and usually offers between five to 50 pounds of resistance) that allows you to complete three or four sets of 10-12 reps each (per leg). Your muscles should feel tired and a slight burn by the last few reps but not overly fatigued or in pain. Give yourself about 30 to 90 seconds of rest between sets, enough to let your muscles recover but not too much that you start to cool down.
Here are some lower body exercises to try at home. Place the resistance band around the ankles to target the legs or just above the knees to get extra glute activation.
Side Shuffle: From a standing position, step laterally into a squat making sure to line up your knees with your toes (you shouldn’t be too far forward), engage your glutes and hold the squat for a moment, then rise up and repeat the squat in the same direction 10-12 times. Do the same going in the other directions to activate both sides.
Monster Walk: Crouch into a squat and walk forward with wide, steady steps while keeping your lower back straight and your core and glutes engaged.
Squat and Hold: Squat with the band for extra resistance. Engage glutes and hold for a moment before coming back up. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
Standing Glute Kickbacks: Hold on to something sturdy or place your hands against the wall as you stand on one leg, knee slightly bent, and kick straight back with your other leg while engaging your glutes. Repeat 10-12 times per leg.
Standing Lateral Raise: Hold on to something sturdy or place your hands against the wall as you stand on one leg, knee slightly bent, and kick out to the side with your other leg while engaging your glutes. Repeat 10-12 times per leg.
Side Lying Clams: Place band just above the knees. Lay to one side on the mat or carpet, using one hand to support your head and placing your other hand flat on the mat to stabilize your body. Stack both legs one on top of the other, against the mat, with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Keep your feet together as you draw your top knee away from the bottom knee, keeping the bottom knee against the mat and your upper body still. Let your top knee close to meet your bottom knee again. Repeat 10-12 times on each leg.
Glute Bridge Pulses: Lay on your back with knees bent, feet flat, lift hips off the ground while pushing legs out towards the band, engage glutes and pulse for a moment before coming back down. The pulse gives extra activation and targets the hard to reach smaller glute muscles. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
Fire Hydrants: Place band just above the knees. Plant your hands and knees flat on the ground to get into a tabletop position on the mat. Keep your right leg bent and raise it to hip height to the side of your body, then lower it back down to the mat. Repeat 10-12 times on each leg.
Written by Abby Vallejo, CPT and Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern