Looking for some good resistance? Well, you’ve come to the right place! A variation of the OG air squat, a banded squat uses a resistance band of varying tension to amp up the difficulty of the movement.
In a standard air squat, your body weight acts as the resistance. By using a band, you can activate your glutes, quads, and hip abductors by adding intensity to the movement.
Plus, bands are cheap and easy to travel with, so they’re perfect for working out at home or on the go! They’re also a great stepping stone to adding more weight to your squat.
Here’s how you can get the most out of the workout.
You can use a variety of bands, but the most basic banded squat calls for a mini loop band.
Steps for doing a proper banded squat:
- Set up like you’re about to do an air squat. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. The band can be placed anywhere from the middle of your thighs to just below your knees, but to really engage your glutes, aim for just above your knees.
- Start to lower yourself into a squat, pushing your hips back as if you’re about to sit in a chair. Make sure to keep your back upright and continue to descend until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 1–3 seconds.
- In a controlled manner, rise from the bottom of your squat. Again, think about getting up from a chair. You want to make sure your knees aren’t caving in and you’re pressing into the floor with your whole foot (not just your toes). To finish the movement, squeeze your glutes at the top.
With the addition of the band, you should definitely feel these squats in both your quads and your glutes. If you have difficulty with standard squat form, drop the bands and practice your air squat.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge than a standard banded squat presents, try some of these variations.
Banded squat jack
This variation adds a plyometric element to your squats, meaning it’s good for both cardio and strength. Your band should be around your ankles for this movement.
- Descend to the bottom of your squat.
- Drive your feet into the floor to launch your body upward in a jump, bringing your feet shoulder-width apart at the top of the movement.
Anchored hinge squat
For this movement, you’ll need a larger loop band, like one of these from TRX. This variation will help you perfect your form and can be used as both a warmup and an exercise.
- Secure your band around a stationary object behind you, like a pole.
- Step into the band and place it on your hips, moving forward to build tension.
- Bend your knees and push your hips back (again, like you’re sitting in a chair), stopping before your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Return to a standing position, squeezing your butt to finish the movement.
Resistance band squat with lateral lift
This lateral leg variation adds even more glute activation to your squat movement. Use the mini loop bands here.
- Perform a banded squat.
- When you reach the bottom of your squat, kick one leg out to the side as you start to rise. (Ground the non-kicking leg firmly into the floor to make sure you can maintain your balance.)
Banded split squat
You’ll need a large loop band for this movement. Split squats are great for isolating each leg, making sure both legs are feeling the movement.
- Stand on the loop on one side of the band. Hold onto the other looped side with an overhand grip (palms facing down), bringing it up so it’s level with your shoulders. Be sure to keep your elbows elevated.
- Step one foot back in a lunging motion, making sure the stationary foot is firmly planted on the floor (neither heel nor toes should be coming off the floor).
- Repeat with the other leg. That’s 1 rep.
Resistance squat with overheard raise
This movement is a great introduction to an overhead squat. It will engage not just your glutes and quads but also your entire upper body and core. Use a large loop band for this.
- Stand on the loop on one side of the band. Hold the other side of the loop with your palms facing each other.
- Perform a squat.
- When you reach the bottom of your squat, hold the loops with an overhand grip (with your palms facing away from you) and press it up from your shoulders.
- Lower the band back to your shoulders and finish the squat movement.
Banded butterfly squats
This is another great glute variation that plays with the positioning of the squat at the bottom. You’ll need a mini loop band for this one.
- Place the band above your knees.
- Descend into a banded squat.
- At the bottom of the squat, press your knees outward. Your knees should be resisting against the band. You should feel this in the side of your butt.
- Return your knees to hip width and finish the top part of your squat.
Banded squat walk
This movement is great if you want to focus on glute activation and strength but are having difficulty with your squat form. For this, you want to use the mini loop band.
- Place the band above your knees.
- Lower your body into an athletic stance — not quite a squat. Slightly bend your knees and make sure your hips are back, but you don’t want to be anywhere near parallel to the floor for this variation.
- Step right leg to the side, keeping left leg still. You want to maintain resistance on the band the entire time.
- Make sure to keep your athletic stance to really engage your glutes.
You can either alternate legs or do 1 set on the right before switching to the left.
Banded barbell squat
This is a more advanced movement for those who are already comfortable with barbell squats. If you find that the hardest part of the movement is coming out of your squat from the bottom, this is a perfect variation for you. You’ll need two large bands for this.
- Set up a stationary object directly below the plates on each side of the barbell. You can use a heavy dumbbell on each side.
- Loop one side of the band onto the barbell and the other side around the dumbbell. Repeat on the other side.
- Set up for your barbell back squat. When you’re stepping away from the rack, make sure the band is completely vertical.
- Descend into your squat as usual.
- At the bottom of your squat, channel as much explosive power as you can to come out of the squat. Drive your feet into the floor, make sure your core is braced and your chest is up, and focus on keeping your legs from caving in.
Resistance bands are a great way to amp up your at-home workouts or add some variation to your gym routine. Most bands come in a variety of intensities, so you can continue to challenge yourself by moving up from extra light to extra heavy.
If you’re looking to take your squat to the next level, both to build strength and to challenge yourself, banded squats are a really versatile and effective option.