The Ultimate Resistance Band Workouts: 8 Best Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance band workouts can target specific muscle groups or regions of the body, such as upper-body resistance band workouts versus lower-body resistance band workouts, or something more specific such as a resistance band chest workout or a resistance band back workout.

Alternatively, you can also put together complete, full-body resistance band workouts with a variety of exercises with resistance bands that, together, work all of the major muscles of your body.

The “best resistance band workouts” for your needs will depend on your current fitness level, your preferred training style, and how often you want to do resistance band workouts. 

There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong approach in terms of the way that you structure your workouts with resistance bands.

However, if you are only training with resistance bands, make sure that you are working all of the major muscles over the course of the week. Check out the following resistance band exercises to put together your workout:

Single leg squat.

The Ultimate Resistance Band Workout

Here are some of the best resistance band exercises to add to your total-body resistance band workouts:

#1: Chaos Push-Up

Many people who are doing workouts with resistance bands are primarily training at home, as resistance bands are light, portable, storable, and much less expensive than dumbbells, barbells, or other strength training equipment.

However, you can also make use of resistance band exercises at the gym, using resistance bands to either progress or regress other strength training exercises based on your fitness level and training goals.

The chaos push-up resistance band exercise is an instance where a resistance band can be used on the squat rack to make the push-up more difficult.

The reason this resistance band exercise is called a “chaos“ push-up is that the resistance band creates instability that, in turn, challenges your core muscles and rotator cuff muscles more significantly.

Here are the steps for performing this exercise with a resistance band:

  1. Grab a thick, heavy-duty resistance band and loop it around each of the spotter arms on a squat rack. The band should be at least 2 inches wide and relatively thick.
  2. Beginners should start with the band positioned at a high level; the lower the band is located, the more difficult this exercise will be.
  3. Grip the band with your hands facing the floor, shoulder-width apart.
  4. Step your feet backward so that you can lower your body into a push-up position with your hands on the band rather than the floor.
  5. Bend your elbows to lower your chest down as if performing a push-up. Depending on how much give is afforded in the band, you can probably do a depth push-up, meaning that you can go even lower than you could if you were on the ground. This will increase the difficulty of the exercise and offset the fact that you are doing a push-up in an inclined position which reduces the force of gravity on your body.
  6. Try to stabilize your body against the shaking that will occur from weight-bearing on an unstable surface as you press back up.

#2: Bent-Over Rear Delt Fly

The bent-over rear dealt fly is one of the best upper back resistance band exercises.

Even more so than a standing reverse fly or band pull apart; this resistance band back exercise activates more of your entire back since the hip hinge position requires activation of your lower back spinal stabilizers.

Here are the steps for performing this resistance band back exercise:

  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, stepping in the middle of a resistance band, holding one handle in each hand. 
  2. Your hands should be in a neutral grip position, with your palms facing one another.
  3. Hinge from your hips, keeping your back straight as you lower your torso until it is nearly parallel to the floor. Keep your core engaged.
  4. Extend your arms so that your elbows are straight and your arms are reaching down toward the ground.
  5. As you inhale, pull the handles of the band outward and upwards until your arms are in line with your shoulders. You can maintain a soft bend in your elbows, and you should be thinking about squeezing your shoulder blades together in the back.
  6. Pause at the top position for three seconds, then slowly lower your arms back to your starting position.

#3: Split Squat Resistance Band Row

One way to make resistance band workouts more challenging and engaging is to add elements of instability to your exercises.

While it is perfectly acceptable for beginners to perform resistance band rows standing upright with a staggered stance for added stability, advanced athletes can progress this resistance band back exercise by standing on just one leg or performing the resistance band row with a static lunge.

Here are the steps for performing this exercise with resistance bands:

  1. Secure a strong resistance band at chest height, holding both handles in one hand to increase the resistance and difficulty of this unilateral resistance band exercise. 
  2. Step far enough away from the anchor so that there is a fair amount of tension on the band in the starting position.
  3. Step your left leg forward and drop into a split squat, bending both knees to 90 degrees while simultaneously pulling back on the resistance band by bending your elbow, retracting your scapula, and pulling backward. Keep your core tight, chest up, and back straight.
  4. When your hand is behind your torso, pause and hold.
  5. Keep your feet staggered in the split squat position, but press through your feet to stand upright again while extending your arm forward to the starting position.
  6. Continue dropping into your split squat with every row.
  7. Complete all of your reps, and then switch sides.

#4: Resistance Band Thruster

Most resistance band workouts focus on upper body exercises. The majority of lower-body resistance band exercises tend to target the smaller stabilizing muscles of the hips and glutes rather than the large leg muscles such as the quads.

This is a great resistance band leg exercise. It will also get your heart pumping for a good cardio boost.

Although thrusters are typically performed with a barbell, as is the case in CrossFit leg workouts, you can also perform this exercise with resistance bands.

Here are the steps for this resistance band exercise:

  1. Stand upright in the middle of a fairly stiff resistance band, gripping a handle in each hand with your palms facing away from your body.
  2. Pull the handles up to each shoulder. This is your starting position.
  3. Sit your hips back as you bend your knees to drop down into a squat. 
  4. As you stand up, simultaneously drive your arms straight up into the air to perform an overhead press, ending the movement in a fully upright position with your arms locked out overhead.
  5. Bring the handles of the band back down to your shoulders as you drop down to the next rep.
  6. Perform as many reps as possible, focusing on moving explosively and powering through your legs to work your glutes, quads, and hamstrings while also engaging your core, upper back, and shoulders during the pressing motion.

#5: Banded Hamstring Curl

If you do not have a stability ball for hamstring curls or access to equipment at a gym, such as curls on a machine or glute-ham raises, it can be difficult to strengthen your hamstrings at home.

However, this resistance band hamstring exercise is an excellent way to increase hamstring strength.

Here are the steps to perform this exercise with resistance bands:

  1. Lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you towards the resistance band anchor point. 
  2. The resistance band should be looped around a stationary object near the level of the ground. You will want to use a resistance band that is a loop or tightly knot the ends together so that the band forms a circle. Place one or both heels inside the resistance band loop, depending on if you want to do bilateral resistance band hamstring curls or unilateral curls.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and make sure that your lower back stays flat as you bend your knees to draw your heel in to tap your butt, pulling against the resistance band.
  4. Make sure that your hips and quads stay firmly planted on the ground at all times.
  5. Once your heel taps your bottom or you cannot pull any further, pause and hold the squeeze for two seconds.
  6. Slowly lower your leg, straightening your knee so that your heel reaches back to the starting position.

#6: Band-Resisted Push-Up

Although the chaos push-up resistance band exercise is an excellent resistance band chest exercise, if you do not have access to a squat rack, you can still progress the standard push-up with a resistance band to work your chest.

Adding this exercise to your resistance band chest workouts will increase the workload on your pecs and triceps because you are pressing up against the resistance of the band.

Here are the steps to perform this resistance band chest exercise:

  1. Get in the lowered position of a push-up with a resistance band crossing over your upper back and then down the side of your arms.
  2. Tuck the ends of the resistance band and the extra slack under each hand. The reason you want to start down in the lower position is so that the band will be quite taut when you straighten your elbows as you press up.
  3. Once the band is tucked under your palms, plant them firmly on the band as you press up out of the push-up to straighten your elbows.
  4. Slowly lower your chest back down towards the ground by bending your arms. 
  5. Begin the next rep by again pressing up against the resistance of the band.

#7: Resistance Band Biceps Curl

You can do isolation exercises with resistance bands, like biceps curls.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand upright with good posture, with your feet standing on the resistance band. Make sure there is some tension on the band in the starting position, so separate your feet far enough and use a sturdy band.
  2. Hold a handle in each hand with your palms facing forwards.
  3. Keeping your elbows tucked into your sides, curl the band up to your shoulders.
  4. Hold the top position for 2-3 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower the band back down.

#8: Pallof Press

This is an anti-rotation core exercise with a resistance band. It will also specifically strengthen your lower abs and deep abdominal muscles.

Here are the steps for this resistance band core exercise:

  1. Attach a resistance band with a handle to a stationary object or use a cable pulley machine with the handle set at chest height. Use a thicker band as you get stronger.
  2. Position yourself so that your body is angled 90 degrees from the anchor point of the band, so it should be to the right or left side of your body. 
  3. Hold the handle in at your sternum. 
  4. Place your feet as close together as possible; the closer they are, the harder the exercise will be. You should be far enough away from the anchor point of the band so that there is significant tension on the band in the starting position.
  5. Press the band straight out in front of your sternum, not allowing your arms to be pulled inward toward the anchor point.
  6. Complete 15 slow reps and then switch sides.
Paloff press.

Start with 2 sets of each of these resistance band exercises. Work up to performing 3 sets of each exercise. 

As you get stronger, start using harder (thicker) bands, as these correlate to higher resistance, as if lifting heavier weights.

For home resistance band workouts, consider getting something like the LIT AXIS™ smart resistance bands, which allows you to dial in specific resistance loads you want to use up to 200 pounds, much in the way of using traditional weights, yet you still have the convenience, portability, and functionality of traditional resistance bands. 

You can learn more about the benefits of resistance bands vs dumbbells here.

Delt fly.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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