Whether you’re a newcomer to fitness or if you’ve spent decades in the gym, resistance band arm workouts can put on size and strength or help you come back from an injury. Resistance band exercises for arms can build strength and improve mobility and flexibility all the while, you can do them just about anywhere and anytime. This article has 17 resistance band arm exercises and 3 sample resistance band arm workouts including resistance band arm workout for mass, fast resistance band arm workout and resistance band arm workouts for beginners. Let’s get into it!
Seeing how you’re here to workout your arms with resistance bands it’s important to understand what muscles are being worked and how they function.
Here’s a high level look at the anatomy of the arms:
The biceps or biceps brachii comes from the Latin words musculus biceps brachii or two-headed muscle of the arm. Perhaps one of the most prominent muscles when people think about strong muscles, the biceps are located at the front of your upper arm between the elbow and the shoulder. There are two heads of the bicep, the long head and short head. Both starting from the scapula then join together forming a muscle belly which is affixed to the upper forearm.
The biceps works on both the shoulder and the forearms but the primary function is flexion at the elbow, bringing your hand upward as in a curling motion and as a supinator of the forearm, turning your palm outwards. The bicep also helps to more the upper arm upward and forward which is shoulder flexion.
Fun fact: Leonardo Da Vinci was the first one to theorize that the biceps acted as a supinator in the early 1500’s.
The triceps or triceps brachii comes from the Latin words musculus triceps brachii or three headed muscle of the arm. It's located at the posterior side of your upper arm. The three heads of the triceps are the medial, lateral and long head. The medial head starts at the humerus and is overlapped by the other two heads. The lateral head, considered the strongest of the three heads starts at the humerus as well but is higher up and on the other side of the medial head. The long head starts at the scapula and is the largest of the three heads. All three heads come together in a common tendon on the ulna.
The main function of the triceps is the extension at the elbow which straightens out the arm. Unfortunately, many people focus too much on trying to grow their biceps when the focus should be spent on the triceps as it makes up roughly 60-70% of the upper arm musculature.
The forearm is the area of the arm between the wrist and elbow. The forearm consists of two bones the ulna and the radius and a whopping 20 muscles. The muscles are responsible for flexion and extension of the fingers and lexion of the elbow. Other muscles are as pronators and supinators that turn the wrist so that the palm is upwards or downwards. The muscles are separated into fascial compartments with the posterior part that holds the extensor muscles of the hands and the anterior part which holds the flexor muscles.
Related: 10 Best Exercises to Build Forearms
There are multiple types of resistance bands on the market but the champ of the resistance bands for strength training is the loop resistance band. Loop resistance bands are made of natural layered latex and shaped in a flat continuous loop with a length of 41 inches. These bands can provide resistance levels from 5-200 pounds.
Although all resistance bands work in a similar fashion by providing an elastic resistance, loop resistance bands are superior in the following ways.
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To build big arms fast using resistance bands follow the tips and tricks below:
To build strong, muscular arms with resistance bands the key points are to focus on the contraction of the muscles at the peak of the movements and aim for a rep range of 8-20 with a difficult resistance where the last rep of each set is almost unattainable. The following arm exercises with loop resistance bands will hit all the muscles in the arm with the goal of hypertrophy.
The workout protocol is as follows:
Note: Take one minute rests between sets
The concentration curl is a great exercise to truly isolate the biceps. There’s no room to cheat when doing concentration curls properly. There are a number of ways to perform concentration curls but the key point is to get into a position where your arm is locked in place, usually with your elbow resting against your body or a piece of equipment.
Tip: Rotate wrist inward towards the top of the movement and hold for 1-2 seconds. You can also do this exercise without an anchor by standing on the band and placing your elbow against your folded arm.
This variation of the curl allows people to lift more weight and is more comfortable for many people because the wrists are in a neutral position, palms facing each other. Hammer curls target both the biceps brachialis (outer bicep) and the brachioradialis (forearm muscle) resulting in more arm mass being built.
Tip: Keep the upper arm stationary throughout the movement.
With your hands in a wide grip, this exercise can help you to target the inner “short” head of the bicep. This movement also enables you to lift heavier weights compared with a narrower grip. Since this is a resistance band arm workout for mass it only makes sense to include this one.
Tip: Hold for 1-2 seconds at the top of the movement.
The overhead extension with target the long head of the triceps, although all three heads of the muscle will be engaged. Because the long head of the triceps crosses the shoulder joint there is extra stress put on the long head. The overhead extension allows muscles to be in a stretched position thus producing maximum force.
Tip: Place your inactive hand on your hip for added stability. You can do this same exercise without an anchor by standing on the band.
This exercise targets the lateral head of the triceps although all heads of the triceps will be engaged. The overhand grip enables you to push heavier loads, leading to more potential muscle growth.
Tip: Rotate wrists outward/inward towards bottom of movement to get maximum contraction.
Kneeling triceps extensions are a great single joint exercise for the triceps. This movement emphasizes stretching the triceps under a specific load which helps with muscle growth. The resistance bands provide constant tension throughout the movement including at the peak contraction point.
Tip: Keep elbows stationary and turn wrists inward at the end of the movement to fully contract the triceps.
Wrist extensions will hit one aspect of your arms that most people overlook. We often flex our wrists in many arm exercises like bicep curls but not many exercises require you to extend your wrists. This exercise will help to balance out your forearm muscle strength and can even help to prevent tennis elbow.
Tip: Focus on only moving your wrists while keeping arms stationary.
Sometimes we are pressed for time but we still want to get a workout in. Here's a solution to get an awesome arm workout in without spending an hour in the gym, in fact this workout will take less than 30 minutes. In a recent study published in 2019 a new training protocol, the 3/7 Method showed that it’s possible to build muscle in a short workout. Use a resistance that's 70% of your 1 rep max.
The 3/7 Method protocol is as follows:
These are the exercises to complete using the 3/7Method. You can switch up the order of the exercises if you'd like but the time and rep protocol should remain the same as stated above.
Note: You will complete each exercise then move to the next exercise going through one round of each arm exercise. This workout will take under 25 minutes to complete!
Reverse curls are a fantastic exercise to build arm mass. Unfortunately, many people skip this exercise when doing arms because the weight used will be much lower than the weight used for a normal bicep curl. Holding the band with a pronated (overhand) grip engages the brachialis muscle and the forearms to help lift the band upwards. This exercise will help to build both your biceps and forearms at the same time.
Tip: Keep chest out and back straight throughout the movement.
Close-grip bicep curls allow you to target the long head of the biceps which is vitally important in building up the peak of the bicep. When you're holding the resistance band with a narrow grip, less than shoulder-width apart your arms are turned in creating internal rotation. This leads to the long head of the bicep being activated more.
Tips: Rotate your wrists outward at the top of the movement to get a better contraction at the peak of the bicep.
This curl variation engages both your biceps and your delts. By bringing the band up and close to your sides the tension placed on your biceps is different from most traditional bicep exercises. The armpit curl can help to make the bicep look fuller.
Tip: Start with a light resistance and squeeze your shoulders at the top.
Overhand grip triceps pressdowns are the perfect exercise to target the lateral head of the triceps. Exercises that require your arms to be stuck at your sides help to target the lateral head. When using an underhand grip more stress and tension is placed on the medial head of the triceps. To build bigger stronger triceps you should focus on the lateral head as the medial head's main purpose is to stabilize the elbow.
Tip: Turn wrists outward at the bottom of the movement to get full triceps extension.
This variation of the triceps pressdown targets the medial head of the triceps. People frequently forget to target the medial head because it is less visible than the other two heads of the triceps, so mix this one in to get that more 3D looking upper arm.
Tip: Keep shoulders back and don’t lean too far forward.
This is a great isolation movement that will help to improve your grip strength. Grip strength is important in improving your almost all your lifts where you have to hold a weight. You should use enough tension where the last few reps have your forearms feeling like they're on fire.
Tip: Keep arms stationary throughout the movement only use your wrists.
Arm workouts with resistance bands can be great for beginners just getting into the fitness groove. Resistance bands are more forgiving than dumbbells and barbells while they provide results as good if not better. Using the bands for arm workouts for beginner is ideal because the band provide constant tension but with less stress on the joints. They also assist beginners to perform some exercises that require people to lift their bodyweight like pushups, pull ups, chin ups and dips.
To do the best beginner arm workout with resistance bands complete the following training protocol.
Note: 1 minute rest between sets
The chin up is one of the quintessential exercises that can but on some serious muscle in both your biceps and back. Using resistance bands for assistance when doing chin ups will allow you perform the movement properly if you're not strong enough to lift your bodyweight just yet. Chin ups are great for building biceps because you need to lift your own weight which is usually more than what you could lift with dumbbells or a barbell when targeting the biceps.
Tip: Retract your scapula by squeezing your shoulder blades back and down together.
Even through dips are one of the harder exercises you can do they are tremendously effective in building triceps and chest strength depending on the angle of your body. Assisted dips are the perfect way for beginners to get used to doing this exercise before having the strength to lift their bodyweight unassisted.
Tip: Lean forward to target your chest more. Try not to lock out elbows to keep constant tension on triceps.
Single arm bicep curls can be a great exercise for beginners because you can focus on one arm at a time. This exercise works the brachialis and biceps as well as your forearms. By doing unilateral bicep curls your core also helps to stabilize your body giving beginners an added benefit to work on core strength when doing arms.
Tip: Turn your wrist inward towards the top of the movement for added contraction of the bicep.
Beginners can really hit the triceps with this resistance band exercise because while lying on the floor it makes it nearly impossible to cheat if you keep your elbow to your side and on the ground. Being in the supine position also makes it easier to only focus on the exercise at hand without having to worry about stabilizing yourself while staying in the correct body position.
Tip: Try to keep your elbow in contact with the floor throughout the movement.
A resounding YES! Resistance band arm workouts will build strong yet pliable arms. Going to the gym or buying expensive gym equipment isn't an option for everyone. Resistance bands are an affordable and super effective fitness tool that can be taken with you just about anywhere enabling you to get a good arm workout in.
We covered 17 arm exercises in 3 resistance band arm workouts that can be done but there are many more exercises, you're only limited by your effort and creativity. Give one of the resistance band arm workouts a try that's listed above, then you'll have an idea of what resistance bands can do in building strong arms. Chances are that you will be surprised in how such a seemingly insignificant fitness tool can give you the best workout you've had in a while.
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