When deciding how to exercise, we find a world of options out there as far as what equipment to use.

We can go the route of spending thousands of dollars on big, shiny machines, or perhaps opt for simple dumbbells. Some opt for a gym membership while also having something to use at home.

I always try to simply use common sense as to how much to spend, how effective something may be, how much space does it require, and so forth.

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If you want a really simple, inexpensive, really effective tool…consider exercise bands!

They come in a variety of resistance levels, they’re very smooth in operation, they take up virtually no space, and they’re very safe when used properly (see: “slingshot”!).

One area of the body that can be easily trained with bands is the Legs.

The reason here is that basic, normal, sensible leg movements can be done using only body weight.

Adding a resistance band to that is pretty simple.

band exercises for legs_2

Here are some movements to try:

Squats

Good ‘ole squats! Start by holding the band with one handle is each hand. Bend over and allow the band to drape onto the floor, then step each foot onto the band. Have the band directly under the arch of each foot.

Use a normally wide stance and be sure you have an equal length running from foot to hand on both sides.

Now bring the hands around and up to shoulder height, palms facing forward. Stand up, bringing tension to the band. Now just perform squats like you usually do, but now you’ll simply have a bit more resistance.

The band should run from each hand, downward against the outside of the arms (just above the elbow), and on down to the feet. Use as heavy a band as you need for reps.

Make sure you position everything while in a squatted down position so you’ll be able to get your hands into position prior to applying maximum tension in the fully standing “Start” position.

Lunges

This is of course the very best movement for the human leg! Again, you will perform these the same as with body weight only, and applying a bit of tension is easy.

Start by bending over and stepping one foot onto the band (under the arch of the foot).

This will be the front position foot. Bring the handles up to shoulder height, palms forward (as in the Squats above). Now stand upright and move the opposite foot back until there is a gap between the front foot heel and the back foot toe…Approx 20” or so (the taller you are, the wider the gap).

Now, perform the stationary lunge by dropping the hips downward to approx 60-90 degree angle on front knee. As always, make sure you keep the front foot flat on the floor, the rear foot up on its toe, and concentrate on pushing through the front foot heel…the rear toe is only for stability.

These two traditional exercises will really work your upper legs (working calves one leg at a time provides all the resistance you should need…no band needed here!).

You will also find that since the band is under tension up to the hands, this actually provides a little more stability against tipping to the side(s) and will help keep you in good form.

Safety tip

When stepping onto the band, by keeping it under the arch/instep of the foot, it should not slip out and cause the “slingshot” slap. Avoid rough floor surfaces as this will erode the rubber quickly. Standard sneakers are fine. Smooth floors or carpet are best.

Bands are available from many sources. Make sure they have good, sturdy handles. Cost should be no more than $10-$20 each. A great investment!

Reference – Image 1: http://cdn23.us3.fansshare.com/photos/sarahshahi/sarah-shahi-resistance-bands-cheer-1818836639.jpg

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