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Fact checked by Kirsten Yovino, CPT Brookbush InstituteFACT CHECKED
Updated On: March 03, 2023
Resistance bands are surprisingly effective at building upper body muscle, strength and endurance. With bodyweight exercises, you are limited in the number of exercises and movements you can do to effectively target your muscles, such as your pecs. With bands, you open yourself up to a much larger selection of exercises, which is great for altering the stimulus placed on your muscles, and thus, building strength through various ranges of motion AND overall muscle development...On that note, we have 11 of the best resistance band chest exercises (no anchor needed), along with a sample chest workout so you can see how to incorporate these exercises into your routine.
Resistance bands allow you to simulate well-known free weight, cable, and machine chest exercises, such as the chest press and chest fly.
The only difference is, resistance bands are easier on the joints and the resistance is caused by tension, not gravity.
Even though heavyweight bench press with a barbell or dumbbells is king for building muscle mass and strength, the risk to reward ratio is simply not worth it for most people. You've probably heard a lot of people who lift complain about shoulder pain.
Anyway, the vast majority of us are happy with lean muscle. Being lean, feeling good, and moving great is the goal, and you can definitely achieve that with resistance bands. Not to mention, you can do band exercises anywhere you please…park workout? Let’s get it!
Nevertheless, if you still love to train with weights (we don’t blame you, it’s fun lifting heavy!), chest exercises with resistance bands are also great for supersets in the gym. Moreover, bands can be paired with barbell and dumbbell exercises to enhance the lifts, as seen here with these banded gym chest exercises...
Before moving on, there is one downside to using bands that should be noted, and that is it's harder to progressive overload than it is with free weights, but it can be done using certain methods.
You can use either loop resistance bands or the tube resistance bands with handles for these exercises…
We will be demonstrating these resistance band chest exercises with heavy duty loop resistance bands, as we believe they are more versatile.
Loop resistance bands can be used for:
Whereas tube bands are really only good for pushing and pulling exercises, typically with an anchor involved.
The point is, there’s no reason to buy many different kinds of bands when the loop bands can do it all.
Any exercise that you can do using tube bands with handles can be done with loop resistance bands, as long as you know what you are doing, and we are about to show you exactly how.
Instead of just explaining how to do chest exercises with resistance bands, we made a video to show you. Below are 11 of the best resistance band chest exercises to hit all angles and areas of your chest muscles.
Pictures of each band chest exercise with instructions and tips to follow...
Purpose of these exercises: These loop resistance band chest exercises will build muscle, strength and endurance.
Primary Muscles Targeted:
Secondary Muscles Targeted:
The resistance bands used for these chest exercises are loop resistance bands, not tube bands. No handles needed.
What's more, these chest exercises with resistance bands don't require an anchor, so they can be done literally anywhere.
Chest Exercises with Resistance Band List in order:
Let’s break down each of the 11 exercises individually so we can give you some tips for each movement.
The resistance band chest press can be done in a split stance or with your feet hip to shoulder width apart.
When doing this exercise, use the same cues that you would if you were doing a bench press with weights - shoulder blades pinched, shoulders down and back, elbows tucked in at 45 degrees, chest out.
Really squeeze your chest muscles and feel the tension. Press out explosively and return back slowly (concentric = explosive; eccentric = slow)
As with the regular chest press, the resistance band decline chest press can be done in a split stance or with your feet hip to shoulder width apart.
The same form applies.
To get the right angle, wrap the resistance band around your back just along your traps. Press the band down so that your hands are at hip to navel level and your arms are fully extended.
Squeeze and feel the burn.
Same form, but for this one you are going to want to lean back slightly so that your chest is facing up more.
Wrap the resistance band around your mid back. The band should be running just along the outside of your triceps to your hands.
Press up at an angle so that when your arms are fully extended, your hands are around the same level as the top of your head or higher.
If you are doing it right, you should feel the tension in your upper pecs and chest.
For this resistance band incline press variation, you will need to be in a split stance. The form remains the same as the previous incline chest press.
Step your right foot onto the band and then step forward with your left foot. Bring the band over your back and head so that it reaches the front of your body at chest level.
Retract your shoulder blades and keep your chest up as you bring your hands/arms to the correct position and angle to press the band.
Press the band up at an angle towards the sky. Slowly return the band to your chest and repeat.
The same rules apply here as exercise 1 (chest press). The only difference is you will be pressing one arm at a time, alternating with each repetition.
Bonus: Get more explosive by throwing punches!
If you know how to do push ups, you know how to do Banded Push Ups.
Wrap the band around your mid back and allow the band to run around the outside of your arm (allows for more tension). Get down into a push up position and do a push up as you regularly would.
Tip: You can do explosive short-range burst push ups and you can do full range of motion push ups. Challenge yourself in different ways. Also, switch up your hand position, spread them further away or closer together to hit your chest and arms differently.
Related: Variations of Banded Push Ups
This exercise uses the same form as you would a flat bench chest fly with dumbbells, except you will be standing up. You can do split stance or feet at hip to shoulder width apart.
Wrap the band around your mid back and across the outside of your arms to your hands.
Allow your hands to go back as far as you can to get a good stretch, then contract using your chest so that your hands meet at the center in front of you. Your arms should be slightly bent at the elbow. Try to keep your shoulders down and back at all times.
Really squeeze during the concentric part of the movement and allow for a good stretch during the eccentric phase.
For this exercise, imagine that you are using cable pulleys, as the form is exactly the same.
Wrap the band around your traps/shoulder blades. The band should be running just along the outside of your triceps to your hands.
Squeeze and contract your chest so that your hands meet at about navel level. Arms slightly bent at the elbows. As your return, allow your arms to extend back so that you get a deep stretch in your chest muscles and front delts.
This is the same form as cable pulleys as well.
Get into a half-kneeling position. Keep your back straight, neutral spine, and your front and back leg at 90 degrees.
The band should be wrapped around the back of your foot as it goes up over the heel and to the side of your body into your hand.
Keeping your arm almost straight, with a slight bend at your elbow and your palms in and slightly up, pull the band up and to your centerline so that your hand reaches about head level.
Feel your chest squeezing and contracting with each repetition. You can use your non-working hand to feel your working side to make sure it’s all tight and contracting as it should be. In any case, you should definitely feel it if you are doing it right.
Again, this exercise is just like a low cable cross over.
Step on the band at shoulder width (the further apart your feet are the more tension and difficult the exercise will be).
Grab the band with your palms facing up. Your hand and arm should be just along the side of your body (not touching, though).
Keeping your arm straight with a slight bend at your elbow and your palms in and slightly up, pull the band up and to your centerline so that your hand reaches about head level.
Feel your chest squeezing and contracting with each repetition.
Tip: Try to keep your body straight. Don’t lean to the side the band is working. You want your spine aligned. This exercise will also work your core due to this.
This is a more advanced resistance band chest exercise.
The same form as the regular push up applies, and this exercise is exactly like a clapping push up just with the added resistance of the band.
You need to be very explosive for this exercise. Make sure you press up as explosively as you can so that you can quickly clap your hands together and return them to catch you or else you will land on your chest and face and that’s not too fun.
Tip: On the way down, allow your arms and body to move with the movement fluidly. This will put less pressure on your wrist, elbows and shoulders. Essentially, don’t try to land stiff on your hands, go down with the force until the bottom of the push up position then press up again explosively. This will come naturally but it’s just a point we want to make to reduce any chance of injury.
Here is a good example of a Resistance Band Chest Workout…
Dynamic Warm up - 5 mins:
During the dynamic warm up, focus most of your dynamic stretches on the joints that will be activated in this workout:
...and do one or two exercises for your hips too…
You should also get your body temperature up so you are ready for some serious work.
Circuit x 4 rounds (30 seconds on / 15 seconds rest in between exercises - 1 min rest between rounds):
2 sets of Banded Clapping Push Ups x Max Reps
Total Workout Time - approx. 25 mins
Here are some commonly asked questions we’d like to address.
Are chest exercises with resistance bands effective?
Chest resistance band exercises are definitely effective. They provide muscle-building tension, plus they can be used anywhere so there are no excuses.
What’s more, bands aren’t just effective, they are safer too. There will be no unduly pressure on your spine and joints. This is why resistance bands are often recommended by physical therapists, especially for rehabilitation purposes. There are many benefits of using bands.
Will resistance band chest exercises build muscle?
With the right amount of resistance and time under tension, you can surely build lean muscle mass with resistance bands.
However, they typically don’t cause the same amount of muscle activation and growth as heavy weight training.
That said, you need to consider the risk to reward ratio.
If you are looking to get massive, bands alone won’t get you there. For that, you need to constantly eat and progress with heavier weights.
In fact, getting massive is very difficult even with heavy barbell and dumbbell lifts. It’s a science and it requires tremendous dedication.
All in all, if you are looking to keep fit, tight, and build reasonable muscle and strength, bands are great.
What are the best resistance band chest exercises?
The ones in this post. Do these and you will create an effective chest workout with resistance bands.
Can you use resistance bands every day?
Just like weight training, you can’t train the same muscles every day with bands.
If you do, you will be overtraining and not allowing your muscles to recover. Resistance bands ARE resistance training. So your muscles will need time to recover, even if you don’t feel so sore.
If you want to train every day, you can do splits so that you are targeting different muscle groups each day…which is the same way you would with weight training.
For anyone who trains with bands, our SFS Band Workouts and Resistance Band Training e-Guide are must haves...
Our resistance band training e-guide. It has over 250 exercises categorized by building muscle & strength, mobility, flexibility, rehab, and more:
You can buy single or sets of resistance bands from us, SET FOR SET.
We have 5 different sizes to allow you to use the bands for all of their various applications.
We appreciate the support and we promise to continue pumping out useful resistance band exercises, workouts and training tips.
Not sure what size resistance bands to buy? Read our guide to buying the right resistance bands.
More resistance band targeted exercises:
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February 20, 2024
February 20, 2024
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