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Resistance Band Deadlift and Squat: The Ultimate Exercises for Legs in Travel and Home Gyms

Any balanced and healthy fitness regimen should include upper body and lower body resistance training. However, sometimes a suitable gym and heavyweights aren’t accessible. In those situations, stay at peak fitness by adding these resistance band deadlifts and resistance band squats to your travel workout routine.


For frequent travelers and “onebaggers”, the hassle and cost of finding a gym in every locale can be a pain and costly, and most exercise equipment is too bulky for travel or too inadequate for strength training on the road. Fitness-conscious travelers should tote a compact set of fitness equipment that allows a great upper body and lower body workout anywhere.

Combining a pair of heavy resistance bands with handles  with a minimalist suspension trainer, such as the Monkii Bars 2 or our own homemade DIY TRX makes resistance band exercises for legs, like the resistance band squats and resistance band deadlift, possible anywhere and still fits easily into your carryon luggage.

CONTENTS

  • What You’ll Need: Short Resistance Bands and Carabiner
  • Why are resistance band exercises for legs so important for fitness conscious travelers?
  • How to do Resistance Band Squats
  • How to do Resistance Band Deadlifts
  • Portable Resistance Band Platforms

What you’ll need: Two short & heavy resistance bands, and a carabiner

To create our portable, resistance band dead lift setup, we’ll need resistance bands with heavy enough resistance to train our deadlift and an extra piece for the handle (I use a large carabiner)

Though there are many options, I highly recommend and use the 12″ Rogue Shorty Monster Bands.

The short length of these monster bands is perfect for reaching peak resistance quickly, and is perfect for simply anchoring under the foot to setup. The quality of Rogue Fitness bands is also impeccable – I’ve had my bands for 5+ years with no issues.

For the improvised handle, I’ve found a large carabiner to be the best handle, as long as it is wide enough to fit your hand through comfortably. These Omega Pacific Carabiners have been perfect for my needs

(Click here to read my full review on the Shorty Monster Bands and exactly how to setup for resistance band deadlifts)

Why are resistance band exercises for legs so important for fitness conscious travelers?

Resistance band deadlifts and squats, with the right equipment and high enough resistance, fill the essential need of a lower-body resistance workout by recreating a weighted squat and deadlift with gear that fits unnoticeably into carryon luggage? Research has studied that training the lower body (legs and hips) at heavy resistance increases muscle growth across the entire body, and improves testosterone and HGH levels – so neglecting lower body during your travels does your body a huge disservice.

Lower body resistance training also boosts metabolism, improves bone health and density, and boosts the immune system in ways that calisthenics and cardio can’t. Resistance training is an essential part of a balanced fitness program including cardio, stretching and mobility drills, and proper nutrition – so don’t skip leg day, just find the right gear.


How are resistance band deadlifts and resistance band squats different from normal barbell deadlifts and squats?

The primary difference between resistance band dead lifts and barbell deadlifts is how steady the resistance stays throughout the movement – resistance bands apply increasing resistance throughout the range of motion, while the barbell’s resistance stays steady (or gets lighter due to momentum) throughout the movement.

Because resistance bands apply more resistance the more they’re stretched, you will feel a heavier load at the end of your range of motion than at the beginning. This is actually good and works naturally with how your muscles generate power. Every muscle in your body is naturally (and will always be) weaker at the beginning of its range of motion and will generate significantly more power at the end. Resistance bands, and their natural increase in resistance, allow you to match this pattern as the resistance bands pull increases as you get to the strongest points in your range of motion.

Additionally, resistance bands maintain (and still increase) their resistance, regardless of how fast you pull. On the other hand, with barbells we can cheat through a weak point in our range of motion by pulling faster, harder.

The bottom line – barbell deadlifts and squats are fantastic, but resistance band deadlifts and squats will provide just as much resistance and muscle growth, if not more. But, both resistance band deadlifts and squats and barbell squats will lead to amazing leg and back health and hypertrophy, so its ok to train with whatever is available to you.

Resistance Bands with handles, made attaching a carbiner, are the perfect travel gym for leg workouts

Short, heavy resistance bands, like Rogue Fitness’ Shorty Monster Bands or Fringe Fitness’ Mini Bands, offer heavy resistance (up to 140lbs and 200lbs respectively) in a tiny package that fits perfectly into a carryon. For travelers, this means that resistance band exercises for legs can replace their normal weighted squats and deadlifts, all in tiny package that fits unnoticeably into a carryon. Also, by adding a carabiner as a handle, and adding a minimalist suspension trainer, we create resistance with handles that are extendable have a travel gym for the lower body.

So, enough of the resistance band exercise sales pitch…lets get into the details of how to do the essential resistance band exercises for legs (squats and deadlifts) for a great leg workout while traveling

How to do the Resistance Band Deadlift

  • Get a pair of heavy tension resistance bands with handles. I recommend the DIY ones I make (DIY TUTORIAL HERE) from the 12″ Rogue Shorty Monster Bands (you can read my review on them here) as they’re durable and offer up to 140lbs resistance and setting them up with carabiners as handles as I explain in the tutorial
Shorty Rogue Monster Bands Review: Making mini band exercises for legs the best leg workout option from home gyms to hotel room workots
  • Take one of your resistance bands with handles and place one of the platforms on the inner portion of the band
Short Resistance Bans with Handles and a cardboard platform are perfect for resistance band squats and the resistance band deadlift
  • Step on the platform so that your foot anchors the resistance band and grab the carabiner handles.
Short Rogue bands make the perfect travel gym because the high tension makes them the perfect resistance bands for legs
  • Setup the body for a resistance band deadlift as you would for a deadlift with free weights and commence your deadlifts
Resistance band deadlift with Rogue Fitness Powerlifting Resistance Bands

What muscles does the resistance band deadlift work?

The resistance band dead lift works the exact same muscles that a normal barbell deadlift or weighted deadlift work. The movement works the entire posterior muscle chain to varying degrees. The Targeted muscles are:

Primary muscles worked by the resistance band deadlift:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

Secondary muscles worked by the resistance Band Deadlift

  • Rear deltoids (shoulders)
  • Lats
  • Calves

Resistance Band Squats

Rogue Fitness Bands with the Monkii Bar 2 combine to make resistance band squats and the perfect travel gym possible

Resistance band squats are a simple way to get in a great leg resistance exercise that carries immense strength benefits. By combining a minimalist suspension trainer, such as the Monkii Bars 2 (read our review of the Monkii Bars 2 here) or the “Minimus” our DIY compact TRX, with strong resistance bands for legs designed for heavy resistance workouts, like the Rogue Shorty Monster Bands (read our review on those Monster Bands to learn more), we create extendable handles that simulate a heavy back squat while only using gear that fits reasonably into carryon luggage.

How to do Resistance Band Squats – Setting Up

  • Just in case you didn’t read the “How to do a Resistance Band Deadlift” get a pair of heavy tension resistance bands with handles. I recommend the DIY ones I make that I pt together in this “Resistance Bands with Handles Tutorial” from the 12″ Rogue Shorty Monster Bands . I chose the Rogue Bands because they’re extremely durable and offer up to 140lbs resistance in a single band. It’s also extremely easy to set them up with carabiners as makeshift handles as I explain in the tutorial
Rogue Fitness Bands with a carabiner handle
Rogue Fitness Bands with a carabiner handle
  • Get a minimalist, gymnastics rings style suspension trainer, such as the DIY TRX I call “the Minimus” (read here for a tutorial on how to make it yourself) or the Monkii Bars 2. I recommend both options highly as they are both very good, durable, highly functional minimalist suspension trainers. We will use the straps and handles to create extended handles allowing us to fully recreate a back squat with the or cores loaded with tension
The Monkii Bars 2
The DIY TRK and Homemade Monkii Bars 2
  • Take one of the straps and handles from a minimalist suspension trainer, either the Monkii Bars 2 or our homemade Minimus Suspension Trainer, and wrap the strap of the suspension trainer around the carabiner handle using a “pipe hitch” knot
  • Now take one of your resistance bands with handles attached and place one of the cardboard platforms on the inner portion of the band

What muscles does the resistance band squat work?

The resistance band deadlift works the exact same muscles that a normal front squat or barbell squat works. The Targeted muscles are:

Primary muscles worked by the resistance band squat:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

Secondary muscles worked by the resistance band squat

  • Front of the shoulders
  • Lats
  • Calves
  • Front of the core (abs)

Adding Resistance Band Platforms

  • Step on the platform so that your foot anchors the resistance band and grab the handle of the suspension trainer.
Shorty Rogue Fitness Resistance Bands with Handles are a travel gym for legs making resistance band squats and the resistance band deadlift possible anywhere
The Rogue Fitness Shorty Monster Bands are perfect for a lower body travel gym because we can anchor the band with one foot
  • Adjust the length of the suspension trainer strap so that the resistance band will be under tension when you hold the handle up at the bottom of a squat.
  • Repeat the setup process with the other suspension trainer handle and resistance band.

How to do Resistance Band Squats – The Movement

  • Setup the body for a proper squat, starting at the bottom of the squat with hands holding the suspension trainer handles in the racked position with the straps running over the backs of the arm. Ensure that tension & resistance begin before the crease of the hip goes above the knee
  • Commence the squat as you would with a back squat done with free weights and a barbell
Resistance Bands Squats are the best resistance band exercises for legs
Resistance Bands Squats are the best resistance band exercises for legs

What are the best resistance bands for legs?

Deadlifts and squats, both of which can be done with the right resistance band setup


I have tried and highly recommend the Rogue Fitness Shorty Monster Bands and just finished up a review of these Rogue bands that I recommend.  At the tail end of the review I recommend several good alternatives for high resistance exercise bands if Rogue Fitness isn’t your cup of tea.  But any  durable, short, high resistance bands will facilitate these great mini band exercises.

Shorty Rogue Bands pack smaller than most resistance bands for legs

Resistance Band Deadlift and Squat FAQ

Can you do deadlifts with resistance bands?

  • Yes, you can do deadlifts with resistance bands by anchoring the resistance band under your feet, and adding an improvised handle to pull the band comfortably

Can I do squats and deadlifts with resistance bands?

  • You can absolutely do squats with resistance bands, however you will need to purchase longer resistance bands, such as the 41″ Rogue Monster Bands. To squat using these bands, setup anchoring the bands under feet and held in a front rack position, such as doing a front squat with a barbell, or in a back squat rack position, with the bands running over your back. Additionally, consider improvising by using a PVC pipe as your bar, anchoring the bands under foot, and looping them over the PVC pipe to use the PVC pipe to provide resistance. This will effectively help you execute band resisted squats.

How to make resistance bands shorter

  • To make resistance bands shorter, simply double the loop, effectively cutting the overall length in half, but beware this approach also doubles the resistance you encounter with the band.

What are banded deadlifts good for?

  • Banded deadlifts are good for training the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and all muscles in the posterior chain at high resistance, without the need for weights.

How do you do a banded deadlift?

  • 1) Anchor a resistance band underneath your foot then 2) Grab the band approximately 12 inches away from your foot and then 3) get into the bottom of a proper deadlift setup and perform a deadlift as normal

How do you do RDL with resistance bands?

  • Yes, you can do a Romanian Deadlift with resistance bands by setting up only a single band, anchored under the foot and gripped by your hand and then performing a single leg Romanian Deadlift as normal.

Are squats and deadlifts enough for legs?

  • No, squats and deadlifts are not enough for legs. Squats and deadlifts are enough for legs if you only want to train strength. However, true fitness not only involves strength, but also stamina, which includes cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance, and mobility, which involves flexibility and healthy strength and pain free movement through your entire range of motion. So, be sure to add cardiovascular training and mobility training to develop an optimal level of fitness.

Gear featured in the overview of making resistance bands with handles

Rogue Fitness Shorty Monster Bands

(Read the Monster Bands Review Here )


Carabiners

The “Minimus” DIY TRX Suspension Trainer

Another Great Exercise: RDLs with Resistance Band

The Romanian Deadlift is a variation of the deadlift in which the movement begins with the resistance (normally the barbell) in front of the hips, and the hips fully extended while you stand upright. In comparison, the normal deadlift movement starts each rep by lifting the weight from the floor, standing upright, and stopping at the floor again.

The benefit of RDLs with resistance bands (starting and ending the movement standing upright, with hips extended) is RDLs with resistance bands start with a properly engaged core and spine, reducing the risk of starting with a rounded back, and forcing more core engagement from the start.

As a result, Romanian Deadlifts with resistance bands act as a dynamic plank, forcing a core workout through the movement, training proper core positioning and spinal alignment, and reducing the risk of injury compared to normal deadlifts.

So, if you are just starting out with deadlifts, consider making the Romanian deadlift your main hip hinge movement.

OTHER GREAT TRAVEL FITNESS LINKS

  1. A Review of the Monkii Bars 2 Compact Suspension Trainer
  2. How to setup a suspension trainer indoors or outdoors with the DIY minimalist suspension trainer anchor
  3. How to do the essential exercises with a suspension trainer, in an outdoors or hotel room workout (pull ups, dips, rows, overhead presses, curls, and extensions)
  4. The DIY TRX: How to make your own compact suspension trainer
  5. Heavy Resistance Bands for Legs with Handles: How to Make the Travel Gym for Lower Body Strength and Muscle
  6. How to do the essential resistance band exercises for legs: Resistance Band Squats and the Resistance Band Deadlift

5 Essential Resistance Band Stretches for Shoulders
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