Not only are resistance bands inexpensive, but they are wonderfully effective. They are also portable and lightweight, so they can be used anywhere! Being that we are big fans of resistance band workouts, we filmed 24 of the best resistance band exercises that we do when working out at home, outdoors, or while traveling. We also use these as supersets when working out with free weights!
The resistance band exercises below target muscle groups - legs, glutes, shoulders, chest, back, arms, and abs/core - and they are perfect for both men and women. We also added a few total body resistance band exercises for those who prefer full body workouts and want to burn a lot of calories.
If you are looking to build muscle, gain strength, burn fat, lose weight, and get ripped with resistance bands, these are the best resistance band exercises you can do. Use them to create full-body workout routines or 4-5 days splits that will help you build muscle and get into great shape.
We used a 41” inch loop resistance bands because these are our go-to type of bands. They are the most versatile in their uses. They can be used for rehab/prehab, warm-ups, flexibility, mobility, and working out. Moreover, we find them to be the most effective for building muscle, strength and endurance.
All in all, 41-inch loop resistance bands will give you the most value for your money. The biggest bang for your buck. So, we suggest buying these.
Resistance bands are an essential tool for any fitness enthusiast. They work for warming up, working out, and stretching. In terms of working out to build muscle and burn fat, they are effective if you know what you are doing. If you can’t get access to free weights or you want a less taxing workout that’s easy on the joints, bands will be a great replacement to free weights. You will be able to build muscle with them and surely you can burn fat and get lean.
Resistance band are perfect for those who want to workout at home in an affordable, minimal and effective way, as well as for people who travel and want something portable and lightweight that will allow them to stay fit and get in some killer workouts on the road.
Do resistance bands build muscle? Read to learn about how you can build muscle with resistance bands.
Thinking about saying goodbye to the gym and free weights? Well, bands might be the perfect option for you!
We’ve done an in-depth post on resistance bands vs free weights, but to give you a quick run-through, here are some benefits of using resistance bands over free weights.
While there are some limitations with bands, for those who are looking to get super strong, if you simply want to get fit and stay fit, with lean muscle, everlasting muscle endurance, and a body that is free of aches and pain, then resistance bands are one of the best implements to use.
One of the great things about resistance bands is how easy they are to use. If you have a solid weightlifting background, you will easily transition to resistance band training. This is because pretty much any weightlifting - barbell and dumbbell - exercise can be replicated with bands, as you are about to see. As can cable pulley exercises.
You will see that many of our exercises are resistance band versions of well-known barbell and dumbbell exercises.
You can do hundreds of exercises with resistance bands. Any dumbbell, barbell, cable pulley or even kettlebell exercise can be replicated with resistance bands. Overall, you are only limited by your creativity.
With resistance bands, you can do total-body exercises or you can target specific muscle groups like quads, hamstrings, glutes, shoulders, chest, lats, biceps, triceps, and abs. So, just like free weights, resistance bands can target any muscle group.
Here are 24 resistance band exercises that we love. There are a few exercises for full body movements and then a few for each muscle group. We have broken it down in the following categories:
These exercises are great for building muscle, weight loss, and muscular strength and endurance. If your goal is to build muscle, you need to maximize time under tension and eat a high protein diet. If your goal is weight loss, then you need to keep rest time short so you burn a lot of calories and you should limit your carb intake.
Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Core, Shoulders, Triceps
Hinge | Row | Squat
Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Core, Back, Biceps
Lateral Lunge Upright Row
Muscles Worked: Outer Hips, Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Core/Oblique Slings, Shoulders, Back/Rear Delts
Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes
Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings
Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes
Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, Glutes, Erector Spinae (low back)
Muscles Worked: Glutes, Hips (adductors), Thighs. It also helps improve knee and hip stability, which is great for injury prevention.
Muscles Worked: Glutes, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors/Psoas, Core/Lower Back,
Muscles Worked: Deltoids, Traps
Kneeling Overhead Press
Muscles Worked: Deltoids, Triceps, Core, and a little bit of upper chest.
Muscles Worked: Middle Deltoids, along with your front and rear delts, and your upper traps, serratus anterior and rotator cuff complex.
Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders
Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Abs
Muscles Worked: Posterior Deltoids, Rhomboids, Middle Traps.
Pulldown | Shrug
Muscles Worked: Latissimus Dorsi (lats), Biceps, Traps.
Single Arm Bent Over Row
Muscles Worked: Lats, Teres Major & Minor, Infraspinatus, Traps, Posterior Delts, Biceps, and Core (as you need to keep your body squared forward).
Muscles Worked: Biceps, Forearms
Kneeling Tricep Extensions
Muscles Worked: Triceps
Reverse Curl | Press
Muscles Worked: Forearms, Biceps, Triceps, Shoulders
Note: This is a difficult exercise to get right the first time so keep practicing. Watch the video to see how the movement should look.
Muscles Worked: Core/Oblique Slings, Glutes
Resisted Plank Lift Offs
Muscles Worked: Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Internal Obliques, External Obliques, Hips, Erector Spinae, Quadratus Lumborum, and Glutes.
This really depends on what kind of workout you are doing. Are you doing circuits? Traditional sets x reps? We will provide you workout examples below so you can see how many sets, reps, and rounds we recommend, to give you a general idea.
That being said, with resistance band exercises and workouts, each set or round in a circuit should be challenging. Try to maximize your time under tension if you want to build muscle and burn fat. Do what is challenging for you. For some it could be 4 sets of 20 reps, for others it could be 3 sets of 10 reps. Be in tune with your body and challenge yourself.
If you want to build muscle, aim to make your workouts a little harder each week. With resistance bands, you can progressively overload, you just have to get creative and think differently than you would with free weights (i.e. not just simply adding more weight/resistance).
If you want to build muscle and strength, you will need to increase the difficulty of your workouts each week or every two weeks. To do this, you can add reps (or increase time under tension by using a slower tempo), add sets, add another exercise, decrease rest time, or use the next band up (this is the last step).
Put simply, challenge yourself more with each workout. Keep track of what you did during a workout so you can push yourself a little harder on the next one.
Slowly, but surely. Consistency is key.
If you are just looking to keep in shape and maintain your fitness and have fun, then explore new workouts, try new things, and don’t worry so much about keeping such a strict progressive overload plan.
There are a few ways you can increase the difficulty of a banded exercises without the need for a bigger resistance band.
Bands are all about tension resistance. The more tension, the more resistance. This is why when you are pushing or pulling the band, the resistance is constantly increasing. Resistance bands are easiest at the beginning of the movement and hardest at the end, as the tension is actually creating more resistance (hence the reason a single resistance band will have a range of resistance). Conversely, free weights have a strength curve, so it is hardest at the middle range of the movement and easiest at the top, even though the actual resistance never changes.
So, when thinking about how to make the exercises more difficult (or easy), think in terms of how much tension there is from the start of the exercise.
Option 1: Exercises Without an Anchor
If the resistance band exercise requires that you step on it, then you can wrap it around your foot/feet twice or even three times to increase the tension from the start of the exercise.
Conversely, you could wrap the band around your hand twice or three times to the same effect.
Whether you should wrap it around your hand an extra time or your foot depends on the exercise. Some exercises will make more sense to do this on your feet and others your hand. Whatever feels better for any given exercise, do that.
Option 2: Exercises with Anchors
If you are using an anchor, like a pole, then you can wrap the band around the anchor twice to increase the resistance level.
You could also step further away from the anchor for your starting position or loop the band around your hand or foot an extra time.
To loop a band and extra time around your foot or ankle, simply cross it over and fold it down so it makes a circle then put your foot or hand through it.
When it comes to continuous layering resistance bands, it’s possible for them to break after many years (that is, if you use them a lot). However, the break is slow and typically not a “pop” like when single-layered bands break. If a multi-layering band is going to break, it starts with a small tear. So, be sure to keep an eye on your bands before using them if they are old. Moreover, avoid single-layered bands.
All in all, as long as you are using them correctly (not on abrasive surfaces), you shouldn't worry about them breaking for a long time. You will be well aware it's time for a new band before a break happens.
Note: Any resistance band can break if they are used on abrasive surfaces or if you stretch them way past their recommended use. Typically continuous multilayering bands can stretch up to 2.5-3 times their length safely and without concern. To avoid abrasive surfaces, place a towel on the ground or a yoga mat and for anchors like wooden beams, put a towel around it first then wrap the band around the towel.
Resistance bands are great for people at all levels of fitness. Moreover, they are extremely versatile in their uses. They can be used for warm ups, mobility, working out, and stretching.
For beginners, resistance bands are a great way to build muscle and strength, as well as increase flexibility and mobility.
For intermediate and advanced fitness levels, resistance bands can be used effectively to workout when you don’t have access to weights, you are traveling, or you want to do home workouts. They also make sense if you want to take a break from weights to give your joints a rest as they are much less taxing on the body.
Resistance bands will still provide an effective workout for people who are of a high fitness level. It will be different but still effective. The exercises will stimulate your muscles in a new way. Aim to increase time under tension and you will get a great pump like you would with free weights.
Furthermore, resistance bands are a great implement for explosive work and athletic training, which is why you see them being used all the time in pro athletes' training regimens.
If you have other training tools like kettlebells, steel maces, sandbags, barbell, dumbbells, etc., you could add resistance bands into your workouts as you would any other training tool. Resistance bands are also great for supersets. For example, if you do a set of dumbbell or kettlebell overhead presses, superset it with resistance band kneeling overhead presses. This is going to burn like crazy, but your shoulders will get so wide you’ll have trouble walking through doors ;)
Just because you are working out with bands doesn’t mean you shouldn’t warm up and cool down. Try this dynamic warm up before your workouts and this cool down afterward. Do these every workout to prime your body for a tough workout and to increase injury resilience.
For beginners, resistance band workouts can be done three to four times a week.
If you choose a 4-day split:
Day 1: Chest/Abs
Day 2: Legs/Glutes
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Shoulders/Arms
Day 5: Back/Abs
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest
…or an upper/lower split:
Day 1: Upper Body
Day 2: Lower Body
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Upper Body
Day 5: Lower Body
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest
If you choose a full body workout routine, working out with resistance bands every other day is perfect.
For intermediate and advanced trainees, you can workout with resistance bands as much as six times a week. If you are an advanced fitness level, we are sure you don’t need us to tell you how to create a workout routine. The resistance bands exercises above should be enough inspiration and all you need to get started.
Remember, for all levels, listen to your body. You want to avoid overtraining while trying to keep the frequency of your workouts at a maximum. If you feel like you have a lot of energy on a rest day, do a short HIIT or cardio workout.
Here are some workouts that you can do with bands using the "best resistance band exercises" above. We have split the workouts based on muscle groups (typical split training days) along with an example of a good full-body fat-burning workout. If you are trying to build muscle, the workouts based on muscle groups make sense, and if you are trying to burn fat, get pumped and simply get into good shape, full body workouts will be the best choice as it will burn the most calories.
Resistance Band Chest Press: 4 sets x 10-15 reps
Banded Push Ups: 4 sets x 10-20 reps
Resistance Band Chest Fly: 4 sets x 10-15 reps
Banded Plank Lift Offs: 3 sets x 10 reps (one rep is after you lift all limbs in the sequence)
Crossbody Chop: 3 sets x 10 reps (each side)
Hollow Hold: 3 sets x 30-60 seconds
Banded Power Squats: 4 sets x 10-12 reps
Resistance Band Sumo Squats: 4 sets x 10-12 reps
Banded Good Mornings: 4 sets x 10 reps
Resistance Band Split Squats: 3 sets x 10 reps each side
Banded Hip Bridge: 3 sets x 10-12 reps
Resistance Band Lateral Walks: 3 sets x 10 reps each way
Jumping Jacks: 3 sets x 50-100 reps
Resistance Band Reverse Curl | Press: 4 sets x 10-12 reps
Resistance Band Kneeling Overhead Press: 4 sets x 10-15 reps
Resistance Band Lateral Raise: 3 sets x 10 reps
Resistance Band Upright Rows: 3 sets x 10 reps
Resistance Band Bicep Curls: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
Resistance Band Tricep Extensions: 3 sets x 10-15 reps
Banded Pull Aparts: 4 sets x 15 reps
Single Arm Bent Over Rows: 4 sets x 10-15 reps each side
Pull Down | Shrug: 4 sets x 10-15 reps each side
Hinge | Row | Squat: 3 sets x 10 reps
Abs Circuit (example to switch things up on back day) - 30 seconds on 10 seconds off, one exercise after the other for 4 rounds:
- Crossbody Chop (do one side first round and the other side on the next round)
- Banded Plank Lift Offs
- Hollow Hold
Note: Feel free to use bodyweight ab exercises or come up with your own banded ab/core exercises!
Full Body Resistance Band Workout
Thrusters (do as many thrusters as you can in 5 mins, only rest when really needed)
Hinge | Row | Squat (do as many reps as you can in 5 mins, only rest when really needed)
Circuit (do one exercise after the other, rest only after all three exercises are completed for the allotted time, rest for 30 seconds and repeat for 3 rounds total)
- Reverse Curl | Press x 30 seconds
- Power Squats x 30 seconds
- Banded Push Ups x 30 seconds (drop to knees if needed)
Ascending/Descending Ladder (only rest when needed, you want to finish as quickly as you can)
- Burpees x 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
- Pull Down Shrugs x 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
For the ascending/descending ladder, you do one set burpees, one set pull down shrugs and you go back in forth until you climb up and down the ladder for both exercises. Once you do 1 burpee and 10 pull down shrugs, you are finished. This is a burnout finisher, so push yourself and only rest if you absolutely must!
Other Workouts (with different resistance band exercises):
- 7 Exercise Full Body Resistance Band Workout
- 21-Min Resistance Band & Bodyweight Total Body Circuit Workout
- Resistance Band Shoulder Workout
- Resistance Band Chest Workout
- Resistance Band Leg Workout
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