10 Resistance Band Exercises for Total-Body Strength

10 Resistance Band Exercises to Build Total-Body Strength
Photo: Twenty20

We know how much space kettlebells and dumbbells can take up in your home. But the truth is you don’t need a whole lot of fancy equipment to get the most out of your at-home workout. Resistance bands are space-efficient, highly portable, and they’re great for every level of fitness. Since they rely on your bodyweight for resistance, they’re extremely flexible and can make even the simplest workout extra tough.

There are a variety of resistance bands out there, but the three most popular types are looped resistance bands, elastic tubes with handles, and mini bands. Looped resistance bands are commonly used in advanced powerlifting and sports performance workouts to do lifts like the barbell squat and bench press. Elastic tubes are thin, cylinder-shaped tools with handles at each end and are used for strength exercises, from bicep curls to shoulder raises. Mini bands are small, flat, looped elastic bands, typically placed above the knees or ankles for mobility and stability work, or as part of a dynamic warm-up.

How much resistance you’ll get is determined by the stiffness of the band and how far it’s stretched. Exercise equipment manufacturers will likely include the amount of resistance each band has, but in general, the wider or longer a band is, the more resistance it has.

If you have one, two or all three types of bands, you’re in luck. We’ve got 10 resistance band exercises to help you build strength and stability — right where you are.

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10 Total-Body Resistance Band Exercises

Looped Resistance Band

10 Resistance Band Exercises: Band Pull Apart Exercise

1. Band Pull Apart

Targets: Chest, triceps, rhomboids (upper back)
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and head facing forward (a). Hold a resistance band in front of you with your arms extended straight out. There should be 4-6 inches of band left at the ends where your grip stops (b). Pull the band apart by bringing your shoulder blades together so that it touches your chest (c). Slowly return to the starting position by bringing your arms back down in front you at eye level. This move should be done slowly and under control. Repeat for 8-10 reps (d). You can use a therapy band for this exercise if strength bands are too difficult.

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Resistance Band Exercises: Upright Row Exercise

2. Upright Row

Targets: Shoulders
How to: Stand with the band under your feet, shoulder-width apart. Shoulders should be back, spine straight and head facing forward (a). Hold the top of the band with a pronated (overhand) grip, hands close together and arms straight down in front of your body. This is the starting position (b). Lift your hands toward the ceiling, raising them to about chin height, while keeping the hands close to the body. Your elbows should point to your sides and your forearms parallel to the floor (c). Return the bands back to the starting position (d). Repeat for 8-10 reps.

10 Resistance Band Exercises: Bicep Curl Exercise

3. Bicep Curl

Targets: Biceps
How to: Stand up tall with feet shoulder-width apart, band looped under your feet (a). Grab the top of the band using a supinated (underhand) grip with hands outside of hips and arms extended straight down. This is the starting position (b). Lift the band to about chin height with your arms bent into a curl and elbows pointing to the floor (c). Then, bring the band back down to the starting position with control. That’s one rep (d). Repeat for 8-10 reps.

For an intensified pump: Set a timer for 30 seconds and do as many reps as possible. You can sacrifice full range of motion towards the end if you get tired, in favor of flushing more blood to the biceps.

10 Resistance Band Exercises: Push-Up Exercise

4. Push-Up with Band

Targets: Chest, triceps, shoulders
How to: Lay flat on your stomach with your legs straight behind you and toes tucked. Place the resistance band behind you so it’s lying across your mid-back. Then, hold the band with your hands so that each thumb is inside each end of the loop. Your hands shoulder-width apart, and arms are at your sides with your elbows bent (a). Do a push-up against the band to full extension, keeping your butt back in a straight line. (b). Then, slowly bring your body back down to the ground (c). Repeat for 8-10 reps.

Mini Band

10 Resistance Band Exercises: Lateral Walk Exercise

5. Lateral Band Walk

Targets: Hips, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings
How to: Place the resistance band around your ankles and get into a squat position with your thighs parallel to the ground and feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart (a). Step out to the left (laterally) against the band, remaining in the squat position with your hands in front you in an athletic stance (b). Alternate sides and step to your right against the band (c). Step out five times on each side (d). To increase the difficulty of this exercise and get a nice shoulder stretch, too, do the same exercise with your hands and arms extended overhead (e). Repeat for 8-10 reps.

10 Resistance Band Exercises: Plank Jack Exercise

6. Plank Jack

Targets: Abs, glutes
How to: Place the resistance band around your ankles and get into push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart, and hips lifted and aligned with your back (a). Jack both legs out to your sides until you feel a stretch in your core and glutes (b). Bring your legs back to the starting position. This move should be done quickly to keep tension in the core at all times. Keep core tight throughout the motion (c). Do 8-10 reps.

10 Resistance Band Exercises: Glute Bridge Exercise

7. Lying Glute Bridge With Adduction

Targets: Abs, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings
How to: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, a few inches away from your butt. Place the resistance band just below knees (a). Press into a bridge by raising your hips and butt off the floor pushing them as high as possible towards ceiling. Keep your shoulders anchored to the floor, so they create a diagonal line to your knees (b). Now, push against the band to separate your legs until you feel a stretch in your glutes (c). Return legs back to center then bring back down to ground (d). Repeat for 8-10 reps.

RELATED: Strength Training for Beginners: Your Guide to Reps, Sets, Weight

Resistance Tube With Handle

10 Resistance Band Exercises: Front Raise Exercise

8. Resistance Band Front Raise

Targets: Front delts
How to: Stand on top of the resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding one handle in each hand with an overhand grip (a). Keeping your shoulders back and spine straight, bring both handles up to eye level by extending shoulders straight out to the sides (b). (c). Slowly bring the handles back down with control (d). Repeat for 8-10 reps.

10 Resistance Band Exercises: Bent-Over Lateral Raise Exercise

9. Resistance Band Bent-Over Lateral Raise

Targets: Deltoids
How to: Stand with your feet hip-distance apart on top of the resistance band, hinging slightly forward. Keep your gaze on the ground. Hold bands with a neutral (palms facing each other) grip and arms straight at your sides (a). Raise both arms towards the ceiling until your arms reach shoulder height (b). Bring the bands back down to the starting position. Elbows can be slightly bent throughout this motion (c). Repeat for 8-10 reps.

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Resistance Bands Exercises: Squat to Press Exercise

10. Squat to Press

Targets: Full Body
How to: Stand on top of the resistance band with feet hip-distance apart. Hold the handles with an overhand grip and your arms at shoulder-level, like you’re about to press them up overhead (a). Drop into a squat so your knees are almost directly over your toes and thighs are parallel to the floor. Be sure to keep your hands by your shoulders (b). Slowly come up to standing, pressing the handles up overhead until your arms are fully extended (c). Bring your arms back to shoulder-height (d). Repeat the exercise in one fluid motion: Squat, and then press up (e). Do 8-10 reps.

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